Shifting the culture and creating new ‘norms’ around organisational and individual behaviour is hampered by our obsession with making more ‘rules’.

Organisational culture is centred around what our ‘norms’ determine.

Human behaviour tends towards the culture of norms rather than complying with ‘rules’.

So, why is it then that as organisations, we are so obsessed with creating yet more and more rules for our employees to conform to? Are we not hampering our own intentions?

Rules are often made by organisations when they see that individuals are breaking the norms or are pushing the spirit of their policies and therefore are at risk of non-compliance with regulations, an indicator of poor governance.

The trouble is that this constant increase is neither effective at minimising regulatory risk, nor is it conducive to changing the cultural norm. Repeated and increasing regulatory action supports this view. It is of course easier to implement more rules than changing norms.

Changing behaviours and shifting the norms, by investing in cultural change, requires hard work and the problem organisations face is that too many rules actually makes shifting the culture more difficult.

True governance cannot be based on rules because it needs to be dynamic, supple and resilient. If we are seeking to change the norm, improve the culture, to work towards better governance, we need to do the hard work of change.

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