Intelligent Disobedience in a Regulated Industry? Quite possibly!

Posted on August 3, 2021

When delivering intelligent disobedience workshops, I am often told “I can’t act in an intelligently disobedient way because I work in a regulated industry.” Here are steps you can take to expand the ways you can deliver better outcomes – using intelligent disobedience – even when you must conform with regulations.

Step 1: Understand if the process AND the output are regulated. I have worked in highly regulated financial institutions. In many cases, what must be reported to government agencies, and customers is strictly regulated. However, the process by which those reports are created isn’t regulated. Yes, intelligent disobedience can be applied to generate outcomes if it supports the integrity of the data, the output is accurate, and the reports meet the regulatory mandate.

Step 2: Focus on the concerns others will have with “messing with regulatory stuff.”  People want to protect the processes used to produce regulated outputs because accuracy is so vital. This should be supported with passion, but not to the point of abandoning a potential improvement. Be mindful and persistent but support the needs of others. You may have to demonstrate that the process isn’t regulated to create a regulated output before acting. Be sure to have compassion for those who will be legitimately concerned.

Step 3: Validate, validate, validate! While you may have determined the processes you want to address aren’t regulated, that shouldn’t detract from your diligence. Validate that any changes, rule stretching, rule-breaking, or other ideas you seek to implement will create accurate, complete, and timely output in compliance with regulations.

Step 4: Communicate in detail. The rationale for executing intelligent disobedience in a regulated environment should be clearly articulated, along with the alternations you intend to make. The results of your validation activities should also be shared, and the scenario(s) in which you believe your improvement should be applied. Providing comprehensive information is the best way to settle the nerves of your management team. Also, because you are touching a very sensitive area of your business, be ready to address rumors and inaccurate comments as fears of your activity may spread.

Step 5: Don’t get carried away! You should celebrate every instance when you create a better outcome by using intelligent disobedience. Success could encourage you to go for more, and this is appropriate. When it comes to meeting regulations, however, the process of making changes should be methodical. While you may think of multiple ways you can improve processes that feed regulated outputs, remember that many team members need to execute these processes. Keep in mind that changes can create confusion. Should you continue to make improvements to processes, intelligently disobedience or not, proceed with caution and ensure all parties understand the changes and what they need to do to execute your processes accurately.

Who knows, you just may start a trend and other people in your business will also scrutinize processes to maximize business results!