At the moment, people often say that bureaucracy needs to be reduced. That’s a good idea in general. However, in one interview I heard an entrepreneur throw away the baby with the bathwater. He demanded that many of the rules that he believed had been invented by politicians and the EU should be abolished in order to finally be able to work properly. These included important rules that, in my opinion, do not create bureaucracy, one after the other.
I actually think it’s important to have rules in the form of laws or internal policies. I don’t want hotels to store my data for as long as they like or for companies that are particularly careless with IT security to get off the hook if they lose my data in a ransomware attack. It is also damaging for the economy if we have no basis for security in these areas.
However, it is crucial that wherever regulations cause effort, this is minimised as much as possible. If in doubt, data collection should be avoided. Processes must be analysed for waste and what remains must be automated. Rules also need to be reviewed for their value every few years. Perhaps other rules have changed the situation. The same applies here: if in doubt, throw the rule away.
In companies, but also in public administration, I would like to see pragmatism; there must be an authority that can interpret and change a rule. I remember an occasion years ago when I was responsible for part of the IT operations. There was a major incident and we really needed all hands on deck.
Finally, an external technician came to the data centre for a repair and a member of the support team asked me who we should now detach and send to the data centre with the technician. According to the regulations, the trainee I suggested, who had been employed for 3 months, was not allowed to go with him. In my opinion, this was simply not foreseen and the wording in the regulations was unfortunate.
We briefed the trainee and let her take on this task. I informed the IT management in writing and a few weeks later we amended the policy. That’s what I mean by pragmatic. Understanding what was meant by the rule and courageously taking a diversion. Rules have a purpose, they have to be simple, practical and adapted.