Laws and applications

Or, why most laws and regulations may be conceptually relevant but turn out to be terrible in application.

Great from afar, but far from great

I challenge you to pick up any regulation or any law. If you were to examine them closely, you would find out that their quality usually is subpar. The reason for this is quite simple. While conceptually sound, and therefore great from afar, closer examination yields a law or a regulation that does not take in account the reality that those who are governed by the regulation have to face. They often turn out to be far from great. But why is that so? How do we arrive at a law or a regulation that may look good, but is not practically applicable?

Proximity enhances relevance

Looking back at my career as an internal control and risk management practitioner, I’m often struck by the realization that quality of recommendations for better control systems is usually entirely dependent on the depth of knowledge of the one making the recommendation. This by the way is the reason why you should never ever engaged a young and inexperienced consultant to do this type of development work. They simply do not have the background to do such work in a meaningful manner. Practical experience is essential. Relevance comes with experience. But relevance also comes with proximity.

Proximity is a function of how directly involved you are as a user, as a person impacted by a law or regulation. The more directly impacted you are by a law or regulation, the better your recommendations will be to make it function. At least if you are not trying to sabotage the system.

Direct relevance enhances quality of regulation

Let’s take that one step further. If you truly believe in the relevance of the law or regulation, and you’re willing to invest time in making it the most appropriate or the most applicable to your specific situation, you couldnreally contribute to the relevance of a law or regulation.

The problem is, there is currently no system in place that will allow you to do that. On the contrary, most laws and regulations are developed within administrations where the people writing the laws or regulations do not necessarily have practical experience with the problem these laws or regulations try to address. And that of course is a problem. But how could we go from laws and regulations that are written in ivory towers to laws and regulations that are written by those that they apply to?

If we revisit the point made earlier, this question boils down to how to enhance proximity.

How to enhance proximity?

I believe currently available technology can really help us in finding a practical answer to this question. The following project is one of the more creative solutions where technology is used to solve a traditional problem. By actively engaging those impacted by a law or a regulation in the development of said law or regulation, we can quite probably enhance the quality.

I invite you to review this entire website. The videos are most certainly worth it.