Humanizing Rules by Christian Hunt Reviewed

An insightful read into using behavioral science in enterprise compliance

Humanizing Rules, Bringing Behavioral Science to Ethics and Compliance by Christian Hunt was recently published by Wiley. It was an interesting read about an area I regularly interacted with as a manager in my prior career. The extensive compliance background of the author came through in the depth of wisdom shared from the very start. The author is a natural storyteller with a well-structured series of points, background and presentation narratives, which were backed up by fiercely relevant examples.

Humanizing Rules by Christian Hunt Reviewed

He starts off in the preface by informing the reader of what to expect. It’s not a step-by-step guide to behavioural science or risk management, it’s a deep dive into operational risk and how to approach compliance in a more connective manner with humans, who are in your company’s employ. It’s pitched with the goal of inspiring you to do it differently, with a series of approaches and techniques to aid you in the revamp of your compliance practices.

The book is split into 4 parts. It begins with a background introduction and provides examples of how a minor error can have a major impact. The idea of operational risk oversights can be remedied by humanizing compliance rules and management frameworks using behavioural science. Part II introduces humans and a support framework to diagnose what works with your humans (i.e. employees) as a collective, and what does not. It leads into the human aspect element of the RADAR framework allowing for human interaction to provide the ‘why’ in both cases.

Part III outlines 6 concepts addressing misconceptions of compliance and how they can reduce human effectiveness in your organization. Remedial points and suggestions in this part include the need to continuously ‘challenge the norm’. Part IV introduces the RADAR framework, which is a tool to aid the humanized compliance programme. Its constituent parts identify compliance rule issues (not individual human ones) and can be broken out as follows:

Rebellious – indicators of widespread non-compliance with a rule

Adaptive – indicators are noted as widespread compliance with the letter of the rule, not its spirit. This can signal non-compliance should the rule become distressed in a changed environment.

Dissenting – indicators of widespread compliance but also widespread dislike of the rule. Like Adaptive, it can turn into non-compliance should the environment change and the rule become distressed.

Analytical – indicators of outlier interest in a rule, with over or under the average level of questions and discussions held about it. This can be positive or negative, so further investigation into the reasons behind the collective behaviour is warranted given it has moved outside its normal range.

Remarkable – indicators of a behavioural change to the rule where expectations of the outcome and the actual outcome are different. The cause can lead to positive or negative conclusions but need to be investigated either way.

The book rounds up with compliance examples backing up the ways humanizing behaviour can benefit the organization and those working in it. The author stressed the point that despite ‘rules’ being detailed in the book, this is not a rulebook. It’s a cookbook of elements that you can use in your own compliance solution to seek employee engagement in the management of risk that they create in the execution of their roles.

He also stressed how the approach to compliance is key given there is no ‘one size fits all’ to compliance solutions. In this context, an employer can expect contractual obligations from employees, but to solely base compliance programmes on this would be too narrow an approach. The book seeks to challenge this paradigm and augment the reader’s vision of what scope compliance has in their company using predictions based on the RADAR framework. Its objective is to enable you to take a predictive view of where the collective is going and when to make an intervention. Getting ahead of issues before they create real impact sounds like a win to me, especially in this day and age.

John Mulhall @johnmlhll | john@maolte.ie is a writer with Irish Tech News for over 6 years and also Founder, Writer, and Engineer with Maolte Technical Solutions Limited. You can learn more about John and his new company at https://maolte.ie

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