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 a behaviour that the knights did not trust their wives to display during their years long tour of duty.
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. Increased emphasis on documenting every step of the production process is not necessarily eliminating accidents. The organisational chastity belts common in safety management are not eliminating naughty behaviour—they do not necessarily reduce the number of incidents.
The key to unlocking the organisational chastity belt is to look at your procedures and start to unravel them. Processes ad procedures should help people reach their goals. Procedures should not be the final word on how work should be done—procedure writers are not all-knowing gods of management. We need to allow for positive deviance, allow for employees making their own judgement on how to best achieve goals and not lock them up in iron clad red tape.