Proceed until apprehended.

Today, I used a phrase that I hadn’t heard myself use for years. It reminded me how great a phrase it is.

“Proceed until apprehended”

At ZOLL Data Systems, we had the general policy of proceeding until apprehended. It was in our policy manual early on, which consisted of one page documenting a couple of smart-ass-isms such as “dress code: underwear on the inside”, “do what you think is right”, and “Don’t hire idiots.”

Sometimes as we grew it became harder to get stuff done. So we’d tell people to decide what they thought was right, and to proceed until apprehended. This rule works remarkably well, assuming that you trust everyone in your company to do the right thing most of the time, and to be well intentioned all of the time.

It work even better when you’re a startup founder. The good ones don’t wait for permission to try interesting or even crazy stuff. They just proceed until apprehended. And since there’s often nobody to apprehend them, you’ll notice, they usually get the most interesting stuff done.

Funny how that works.

file under: Blog, Startups