Every now and again a thought piece really sets me thinking—like this one, which arrived in a mail feed over the weekend:
Most people like the comfort of having rules to follow. Rules give us a clear understanding of what is expected. Obey the rules and we feel safe, confident in our actions, and assured of positive outcomes. However, excessive focus on rules can make us arrogant and judgmental.
Hard law (that is, statutes and compliance codes) seems to be the de rigueur response to major corporate indiscretion. Sarbanes–Oxley, Dodd–Frank and the UK Corporate Governance Code are but three recent examples. These measures set fairly well defined expectations in terms of how boards are supposed to operate. However, they don't ensure performance. They add cost as (most) companies seek to conform, or they lead to evasive practice).
Might the strong focus on regulation, statutes and compliance codes actually be bad for business performance and economic growth, especially as most directors and boards operate ethically and well within accepted social and societal norms? How might the risk–cost balance change if there were fewer rules to divert directors' attention away from value creation?
Thoughts on corporate governance, strategy and the craft of board work; our place in the world; and, other things that catch my attention.