The Organisational Chastity Belt: Governance and Positive Deviance

According to popular history, when European knights left for the holy land during the crusades they fitted their wives with a chastity belt to ensure their fidelity. The belts were a crude device to enforce fidelity as the Knights did not trust their wives while on their holy tour of duty.

Organisational Chastity Belt

Is governance an organisational chastity belt?The chastity belt is making a comeback—and not only with contemporary connoisseurs of erotic bondage. The Global Financial Crisis has driven an increased focus on the governance of organisations. More risk management, more red tape, more creativity stifling procedures—more paper chastity belts.

In an earlier post, we provided seven reasons not to implement a process. Reason number eight is a lack of trust in the ability of people to make the right decisions on your behalf.

There is currently some interesting anecdotal evidence in the area of safety management to support this thesis. Documenting every step of the production process does not necessarily eliminating accidents. The organisational chastity belt is common to OH&S management but it doesn’t eliminate unsafe behaviour—procedures do not necessarily reduce the number of incidents.

The key to unlocking the regulatory chastity belt is to look at your procedures and start to unravel them. Processes and procedures should enable people to achieve objectives. Procedures should not be the final word on how work should be done—procedure writers are not all-knowing gods of management.

Lucid managers allow for positive deviance, they allow for employees to make their own judgement on how to best achieve goals, instead of using the bondage of red-tape.

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