Worker trying to be productive by drinking - drinking coffee out of a jug while working

There is a battle that is raging within every organisation.  It is the challenge between encouraging innovation balanced with the need to ensure that we have the necessary systems, processes and practices in place to govern our activities.

My personal view on this is that there needs to be a balance.  We need the appropriate controls, checks, systems and processes to ensure we do things the right way.  This is important to not only ensure we follow the right processes but it also allows us to be very efficient in our approach to our work.  However, this needs to be balanced with how we drive innovation, challenge our current processes and seek game changing ideas, concepts and approaches that keep us ahead of the game and in front of our competitors.

I believe that the problem in the last five years is that this balance is out of kilter.  The global financial crisis, government intervention in areas that are unnecessary combined with additional taxes and compliance regimes that require paperwork have added to this.  One organisation does the wrong thing in an area which means the entire classroom is penalised through excessive paperwork, systems and reporting that we all need to comply with.

Along with this compliance comes growth in non-customer facing areas of the organisation.  More people allocated to safety, quality, compliance, human resources and other roles that then create ripples within the organisation in the form of new forms, policies and systems that others need to comply with.  This additional burden of compliance takes not only them but others away from creating opportunities, generating value and delivering outcomes to clients and customers.

There will be some critics of this blog that highlight that compliance is a necessary evil and that it does not stop innovation.  I am not saying we should eliminate compliance as I understand its role and it’s importance.  What I am advocating is that we really need to question the level.  Do we need all these compliance roles?  Do we need to create another form because one person did not comply with the process?  Do we need forty page proposals for a service provider to run a training course?  Do we need to treat everyone the same when the level of risk differs for different service providers?

This additional compliance is coming at an enormous cost to our economy. It is stifling innovation, taking away valuable time and energy, that is desperately needed for our economy to remain competitive.  Let’s take a good look at this within our organisations and really challenge what we can do to empty our cups of excessive bureaucracy so that the balance between innovation and compliance is restored to its optimum level.