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Rule of Law

Too often I encounter learners who struggle with the concept of governance. This idea does not need to be difficult to understand nor to implement. The idea of governance is based on an older idea known as "rule of law". This idea arose in the Enlightenment and has driven modern civilized society ever since. The understanding of the rule of law is that everyone (people and businesses) is subject to rules and regulations that keep mankind from descending into chaos and anarchy. Governance is simply the modern terminology for this concept. Other terms we use in this same sense are "management" and "control".

Governance at its heart has two basic forms. The first is Governance ("Big G"). This is the type of governance whereby established ruling entities (governments and/or lawmakers and/or courts) create rules, regulations and policies (statements of intention or expectation) to keep us all from going crazy and destroying each other. We experience "Big G" governance in the form of laws such as Sarbanes-Oxley, privacy laws and even traffic laws.

The second form is governance ("Little g"). This form is the more general idea whereby we (individuals and organizations) agree to abide by a set of boundaries and behaviors to ensure sanity and success of both organizations and individuals.

"Little g" governance has four basic aspects:

·     Accountability: the aspect of governance where levels of authority duty are tied to roles and processes and we hold individuals and organizations to established standards and expectations.

·     Transparency: the aspect of governance where expectations and intent (policies) are made clear to all and openness and honesty drive ethical behavior.

·     Predictability: the aspect of governance where standardization, consistency, repeatability, process and procedure drive work.

·     Participation: the aspect of governance where those being governed play a part or a role in their own governance.

A key aspect of both forms of governance is the willingness of individuals and organizations to abide by the terms and conditions established as part of control, management or governance. If individuals or organizations are unwilling to stay with the boundaries the system quickly begins to break down. However, the system of governance cannot be punitive or oppressive or exist for the sake of existing. Rather it must serve the greater good of keeping all working as part of successful organizations or societies. Governance must be flexible and adaptable to changes in the environment and adapt to the place and times. Governance must be subject to continual improvement just like services, technology and processes.

By taking a broader view of governance as serving bigger interests your organization and you can both benefit.

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