A really scary example of what happens when process builds on process, well summarised here by the BBC. 40 procedures and 30 forms are required to be followed/completed if the police catch a thief in the act of snatching a handbag. If you read through it, you can see how each new procedure was added as a result of some reported failure. With regret this is all too common. Something goes wrong, we make a change to prevent it happening again. Something else goes wrong; another change is made. Before long we have this sort of nonsense. It’s not only Government, you can see it all over industry.

The issue underpinning it is trust. If we trust the police (and once upon a time we did, and probably in the main still do) then we don’t need all these controls. However as trust starts to break down, then we start to formalise things and then over control them: all at considerable cost. The other problem you get with rigid systems is that people can avoid responsibility if they follow the rules regardless of whether they do the right thing or not. We are building deep seated institutionalised perversion into our governance procedures, when we should be looking a trust building, and also at creating responsibility and concern for consequence.

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