The harsh lesson: Preparation and systems take you only so far. Sometimes, you have to break rules to avert greater disaster.
Example: After the storm hit, New Orleans’ Carrollton Water Purification Plant stopped working for the first time in a century. Employees rushed to re-start it.
dictated that they secure permission from the control room before making important fixes. But when standard procedures failed, the guy in charge said: “Look, if you in the boiler room need to roll a pump, roll it. You don’t have to call and ask permission. Just do it.”
Imagine if other leaders had tossed out the rule book and abandoned standard operating procedure. We might be reflecting now on fewer deaths, less looting and lawlessness … and less tragedy.
— Adapted from “Over-Ruled: When There’s No One to Ask, Just Do It,” David Brown, The Washington Post.