The movie was set to be released. It had been shown to a screening audience to get reactions. The only thing that needed done was to remove the song at the beginning of the movie. The studio’s chief executive felt that the song didn’t fit the audience for the movie. His belief about the song was backed up by the reaction of the screening audience. But those who produced and directed the movie thought otherwise. Their judgment was that the song should remain. In this case, judgment prevailed over authority and data. Over the Rainbow was kept in the movie, and both the song and the movie, Wizard of Oz, have become classics.

Judgment is often disdained by organizational leaders. They invest huge amounts of time and money in the development of policies. Every conceivable situation needs to be covered by policies in the modern organization. All those in charge need to do is to refer to a policy when making a decision. This assures consistency across the organization, and it reduces the need for managers to consider all possibilities before they make a decision.

When policies replace judgments, they also eliminate a sense of responsibility. Managers can always use the excuse of following policy should a decision not turn out to have the desired result. Those who prefer to use judgment rather than strictly following policy are thought of as mavericks.

What might a society look like if informed judgment replaced “going by the book”? Might we become more creative? How would this impact the acceptance of individual responsibility for our decisions?  Will we ever know the answer to these questions? Probably not, it goes against policy.

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“Organization can never be a substitute for initiative and for judgment.”
– Louis Brandeis (Associate Justice of the Supreme Court from 1916-1939)

How To Use

Useful guides for incorporating messages into discussion.