Musings from the CU Suite

Crocker's Rules

Written by Anthony Demangone, Powered by NAFCU

This weekend, I was listening to The Tim Ferriss Show Podcast.  (I really love the podcast, but I'll save my comments about it for a future day.)

This episode featured Tobi Lutke, founder, and CEO of Shopify.  Lutke hit on a few neat ideas, but the one that caught my eye was his discussion of Crocker's Rules

If you play by Crocker's Rules, you signal to other people that they should give you feedback without worrying whether it will hurt your feelings.  You accept full responsibility for how you feel under Crocker's Rules - and you simply want direct feedback as quickly as you can get it, without all the normal social etiquette that can dilute the message. 

Crocker's Rules is something you signal to your team. Once they know you are playing by those Rules, they get the green light to cut to the chase without sugar coating. But it only works one way. You can't force someone else to play by the Rules. 

Here's how Tim and Tobi discussed it during the podcast

Tobi Lutke: There’s a specific editor from the early days of Wikipedia who, I think, was called [Lee Daniel Crocker]. And he declared something like Crocker’s Rules, which said that he wanted everyone to edit his pages just to make them better. And he didn’t want people to apologize for it or try to politically give him credit or something. He said, “I’m going to take 100 percent responsibility for my own mental state. You cannot make me unhappy by just giving me feedback in some way. So just give me raw feedback without all of the **social etiquette** around it.”

And I love that. I would like to run my team on Crocker’s Rules because I think there’s so much time spent. First, you have to talk about the weather.

Tim Ferriss: And then you have to say, “Nice sweater. That’s a really nice sweater.”

Tobi Lütke: Exactly. So you have to find something and then ideally, address some very productive character traits, then talk about the thing you want to talk about. And then figure out some way, afterwards, talking about something highly positive again. That’s the sort of standard formula. And I can do it, but I don’t think that the highest performing teams in the world should spend time doing this to each other. I think there’s a level of progression that comes if you’re part of one of the teams. Again, we are one of the bigger technology companies in the world. Certainly, we’re the fastest growing SaaS company on the market. And so I don’t want to compare it too much to sports because sports is sports. But this is like a big game. We need to be very good at what we’re doing, otherwise, we cannot build Shopify.

Pretty interesting, don't you think? If you want to get better, you need feedback. And how often are people holding back the complete truth because they are worried whether it will offend you?

You won't know, but declaring Crocker's Rules might be an interesting way to find out. 

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If you like listening to podcasts and things like "Crocker's Rules," you might dig our Management and Leadership Institute.  We'll hold it in San Antonio this October.  I hope to see you there.

About the Author

Anthony Demangone, Executive Vice President and COO, NAFCU

Anthony DemangoneAnthony Demangone, NCCO is Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at NAFCU, where he oversees day-to-day operations and manages the association's education, marketing, membership, human resources, building facilities, finance and information technology functions.

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