Art of Setting, Resetting– Business Boundaries, Limits, Rules… Drawing Lines That Distinguish– Purpose, Clarity, Chaos…

Business boundaries… Imagine countries without borders… imagine companies without management… imagine games without rules… It’s chaos, confusion, conflict… However, this is not to say that business should always have boundaries– they are not always desirable or necessary, for example; imagine limiting people’s imagination and their thoughts about– creativity, innovation, inventiveness… the world would be rather dull place…

Business boundaries are intended to assert business structure, control, and influence the behavior of the organization– they describe operations, definitions, constraints that apply to the organization, and are put in place to help business achieve goals…

Generically boundaries can be very simple, clear-cut… or downright baffling, for example, land surveyors can clearly draw a boundary that separates the property between neighbors… However, that simplicity and clarity does not exist in business… In business, a boundary is a limiting factor that separates– people, responsibilities, influence… they protect the rights, integrity of each person in the organization… A boundary can be as tangible as the surveyor’s line or as intangible as a human attitude, behavior…

But business boundaries are mostly intangible and setting clear boundaries requires defining– what is within the scope of work and what is not; what is appropriate behavior is and what is not; and what is productive work is and what is not… When people have boundaries within which to operate, they are more empowered to act, innovate, take initiative… Setting realistic boundaries is an empowering tool to promote positive behavioral change… and it can make or break the success of a business…

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According to Wikipedia; boundaries are defined as: guidelines, rules, limits… that create an identify for reasonable, safe and permissible ways to behave… Boundaries are what make business healthy, functional, smooth running– many successful businesses have an explicit and often a document that outlines the ‘boundaries plan’... According to Dr. Henry Cloud; leaders must set conditions that make people’s brains perform at their highest levels… One way to do it is through creation of ‘boundaries’– structures that determine what will exist and what will not… A boundary is property line that marks responsibilities… In other words, boundaries define — who we are and who we are not…

Boundaries impact all areas of business, e.g.; physical boundaries help us determine who may touch us and under what circumstances… mental boundaries give freedom to have our own thoughts and opinions… emotional boundaries help to deal with our own emotions… According to Fiona Miller; boundaries enable employees to know difference between right and wrong in the workplace and to know their ‘rights’ in the workplace… these boundaries also foster respect among employees and provides a system of dealing with workplace conflicts

According to Sam Williams; business boundaries determine– business brand, employee behavior, executives control… Boundaries are ubiquitous; there are industry-specific boundaries, personal boundaries, company-specific boundaries; and for business, boundaries are the basis behind– personal hiring, employee behavior, decision-making… and these rules are often based on business vision and goals… According to Robert Kaplan; sometimes simple rules delineate boundary conditions that help managers sort through many opportunities, quickly, e.g.; boundaries might center on customers, demographics, technologies…

According to Len Silverston; rules are not created in a vacuum… they are created based on the business’ visions, goals, culture… and they are major factors that affect outcome… boundaries are visions, values, culture… that define corporate governance, risk management… According to  Rita Sommers-Flanagan; the way a person dresses at work, speaks to co-workers, and the effort put into work are all determined by personal boundaries…

In the article Drawing the Lines, Setting Team’s Boundaries by Ann Greene writes: The concept of boundaries conjures an image of lines; lines that are drawn around you, the team, the department… lines that should not be crossed under any circumstances… We all have our personal boundaries; think of them as filters by which we allow other people into our lives, or not. These filters contribute to the defining, shaping… of our personal brand, which is precisely the way business boundaries help to define, shape… the business brand…

According to Julie Parkinson; the definition of a business boundary can be described as the ability to understand where one person ends and another person begins. This includes understanding a colleague’s need for space, setting limits, determining acceptable workplace behavior, creating sense of autonomy… It’s up to each person to learn and adhere to physical space and the various other boundaries that exist in the workplace. It’s also worth bearing in mind that understanding and adhering to workplace boundaries is  everyone’s responsibility…

Boundaries are elusive yet they are discernible lines that distinguish personal and activity-specific space– an area you occupy which you appropriately feel is under your control– most likely, you have had the experience of someone at work standing too close to you… now, what that person has done, knowingly or not, is invaded your space and crossed your physical boundary…

Boundaries must protect areas of people interaction– boundaries provide a sense of safety, and each person faces innumerable boundary decisions each day… and to make things even more confusing, boundaries may fluctuate, because they change with the situation or context, for example; a behavior that is deemed appropriate at one time may be offensive in another setting, and even involving the same person or situation… hence, boundaries can be fluid or rigid dependent on the situation…

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In the article Create Boundaries Plan for Business by Emma McCreary writes: In business, the biggest struggles is around setting, navigating boundaries… In personal relationship, boundaries are what make it healthy, functional… In business it’s the same, e. g.; you must know who you are and who you are not; what you will do and what you will not… You must know how to set, reset, and negotiate… boundaries that  serve to keep the business functioning smoothly…

Boundaries make the business more appealing, because it come across as being ‘together’, and having a professional structure for people to interact with… Think about interpersonal relationships– we are all wary around someone who is not clear on their boundaries… The same is true in business– the more clear, communicative… you are about boundaries, the safer employees, customers, and stakeholder feel. They’ll know what to expect and they are able to make informed clear choices…

In the article How To Manage Boundaries In The Workplace by Dr. Henry Cloud writes: There are several important types of boundaries that leaders must set: Boundaries that focus attention on what is crucial, and inhibit distractions from everything non-crucial, while keeping the crucial ongoing and current… Boundaries that build a positive emotional climate that leads to high performance brain functioning.

Boundaries that keep people connected to each other and inhibit fragmentation, compartmentalization and isolation of people, teams, departments, business units… Boundaries rule the organization; keeping the dominate thinking optimistic and proactive as opposed to– pessimistic, powerless…

Boundaries that align people with behaviors that they can control, and empowering them to work on activities that actually ‘moves the needle’ of measurable results, as opposed to focusing on what they cannot control, which may not be related to the desired results… That is, aligning boundaries with true drivers of a measurable outcome… Boundaries that structure teams around a well-defined purpose with defined roles, activities, and mutual accountability… along with the ability to diagnose, correct… what is not working, quickly.

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Most people find it stressful to discuss boundary issues, because we are conditioned not to set boundaries as a way to avoid the negative reactions of others… So most managers, people… are ill-equipped to freely discuss boundaries when something is uncomfortable. Often issues of boundaries and concerns are about crossings the boundary, and it escalates because the reparative conversations are challenging to raise and so people avoid them…

According to Sue Miley; if you do not set sensible-realistic boundaries then it’s most likely that people will not respect what may seem obvious to you… The key though is to set a realistic boundary and hold to it–  if you don’t stay true to the boundaries you set, then, it won’t be respected… hence, without business boundaries, business life can be chaotic, unmanageable and that will consume you…

According to Alicia Arenas; change your mindset about boundaries… Boundaries serve to protect business relationships… when creating boundaries decide where you’re going to place the boundary line… and no matter where you put the line it will be continually tested… 

According to Alyssa Gregory; boundaries don’t have to be strict, rigid, or written down in a policy document… it’s often enough to know how you want business relationships to be structured and create habits that enforce that vision. Think through the areas where you feel you need to create more structure, and be clear on how you want to communicate it… Setting boundaries is all about creating habits and the best way to create a positive habit is by consistency…

Of course, there are always exceptions, even when you have very clear, defined boundaries… boundaries must be enforced– consistently and honestly… According to Carla Young; get tough with boundaries– they are the invisible line you draw in the sand between– what you will do, and what you won’t do…