Just today, I have learned yet another lesson from the dummies. Well, same as how a book used the word “dummy” as a title to refer to its target readership, I am using it since it is from the dummies that I have learned a valuable lesson today. Indeed, one has to remember that protocol merits primacy over urgency. Hmp!

Imagine yourself through this story. You are walking in a dark alley when suddenly you saw a stranger rushing towards you with a pointed object. You saw this door that seem open but it says… KNOCK THRICE AND SHOUT YOUR NAME… GO INSIDE IF YOU HEAR THE WORD CAT. OTHERWISE, DO NOT ENTER IF YOU HERE NONE. REMEMBER THAT YOU HAVE TO WAIT FOR 10 MINUTES FOR THE VOICE! Sounds complicated?

The stranger is already nearing you. You have no other option but to find a way to either change path and avoid him or take a refuge inside the door for your safety. Now, your instinct and human nature would say that you need a quick escape that you have to rather gate-crashed inside the door for your salvation but the problem is the required compliance to the protocol set. You have to follow the posting on the door!

With such a sense of urgency, what will you do? Will you spend some more minutes knocking, shouting and waiting for a voice when danger is already nearing or will you rather go inside the door and just settle what is being required later on? Will you go for protocol and compromise what matters most – life?

Let’s have again another scenario. You were tasked to watch the flood control gates of your village. The master has instructed you that when the water level reaches 10 feet and that the red light is flashing, you need to press the yellow button for the overflow valve to open. Thus, problem is solved.

Otherwise, when all else fails, you need to call the master at his home which is 10 kilometers away and ask for a decision on what to do. Nonetheless, the master gives you the mandate to decide on all other things you see it fit not worthy of escalation.

Here you are now, stationed at the flood control gate. It was raining in the other town and water has been rising. The level has now reached 9 feet and it is still rising. You were a little nervous but at any rate, you were confident that you can manage. Soon, the water level reached 10 feet and the red light is now flashing. At this point in time, you know that this is critical and you are thinking that this is worth escalating amidst the fact that you have already gotten the instruction.

You stayed. You did what has been instructed. You hit the yellow button to release the overflow valve. Unfortunately, the valve malfunctioned. Now, as per instruction, you need to escalate to your master who is 10 kilometers away. Water is already overflowing and in any time soon, the flood control gate may not be able to support its load that saves the town from flooding. You have seen what is wrong. The valve is malfunctioning because a wire is obstructing the opening.

Seeing that you can do something, what will you do? Will you stick to the protocol and take a 10 kilometer run back and forth so you can escalate and seek advice from the master or will you take the chance in the midst of urgency to remote the obstruction from the valve and try re-opening it once more? By doing so, either you will succeed in opening the valve or you will not which is equally the same with having to take the 10 kilometer run where every second counts.

Now, will you do what you think will fix the problem that is within your reach or will you go after your master and rather ask for his help?  The risk is for you to take. If you take your chance in fixing the valve, you will end up being scrutinized for failing to communicate and escalate the problem whether your attempt is successful or not. On the other hand, if you take the 10 kilometer run, you may end up being too late to save the flood control gate and the town from massive flooding. Thus, you will end up being scrutinized as well for not taking appropriate actions in times of urgency.

So what will you do then?