Be Sharpe, and Keep It Simple

I love the Napoleonic era. I know it was brutal and bloodthirsty but it also threw up some great heroes, Wellington, Nelson and of course Richard Sharpe. (Yes, I know he’s fictional.)

I love the history, the famous and infamous battles and sieges; the horses, the uniforms…you get the picture! 

Anyway, the reason I mention Sharpe is that he had three simple rules for his men:

     1. Fight well

     2. Don’t get drunk without permission

     3. Don’t steal, except from the enemy when starving.

At the time the army had big thick volumes of rules and regulations full of what to do and what not to do, but Sharpe decided on three rules which were easy for his men to remember, and would get the best out of them.

In the business world, there are a few great examples of companies who’ve looked to keep things simple for their people. 

Netflix for example have a simple rule, ‘Act in Netflix’ best interests’. Simple, clear and constructive – saying to employees that they should use Netflix’ money with the same care as they would their own.

While Virgin tell their managers ‘People first, then Customer’ – look after your people and they will look after your customers.

I read an article once that said, ‘Rules allow systemisation without bureaucratisation. When organisations systemise, people know what the rules are for; when they bureaucratise, the rules seem to have no function’.

In ‘my speak’, it’s the difference between McDonald’s simple, logical and repeatable systems (i.e. it’s just ‘the way we do things round here’) and the form-filling, tick-boxing paperwork for paperwork’s sake of the likes of ISO9001.

So your rules, like your systems, should say to your team ‘this is how we do things here’ because our way:

• is in the best interest of our Customers

• helps our business grow

• creates a team environment where people enjoy their work

Keep it simple and make it easy for your people to get it right.

Do one thing: review the rules in your business. Do they give your people the freedom to deliver?

If you’d like to know more about introducing simple ways of working and building high-performing trustworthy teams please join us on July 14th  for the next McFreedom Secrets Workshop. Click HERE to check out testimonials and sign up.

For more information on how MPL can help you visit or contact me on


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Marianne Page

Marianne is the author of three books, and is currently working on her fourth, whilst regularly writing her blog, we hope you enjoy it :-)


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