us-capitol-building-826993_1280An article in the March/April 2016 edition of Chief Executive discusses the challenges dealing with federal regulations. The current Code of Federal Regulations is now more than 116 times the size of the collected works of William Shakespeare. Think of these regulations as standard work intended to balance the interests of the public and the various enterprises with which they interact.

The challenge with the current regulatory approach is that prescribed standard work is not tested to assure that the desired results are attained. Without tests there are no failures, and therefore no recourse to removing failed regulations. Similarly there is little to no interim testing of regulations to determine at what point they need to be improved, replaced or eliminated.

Over regulation is not limited to governments. Regulations accumulate in companies much the same way. Practices, intended to address valid concerns when introduced, become institutionalized and continued well past the time they cease providing value. It may be a good idea to take a look at company policy and procedure manuals on occasion and run a few tests. What happens if you eliminate a policy or procedure? Or does it need to be replaced or improved?

The same thinking applies to individual practices. What practices have we institutionalized in our lives that don’t contribute to the well being of ourselves or others?