Steve Jobs said once about his company: “Apple is a disciplined company.” Maybe this is surprising, as you would relate the company more to creativity than to discipline. Nevertheless it is a very important company value. Top management has the task to decide on how much risk the company should take one. It must be clear that business always means risk. The decision is not about taking on risk or not, but what should be the risk level.

After this strategical decision, it must be ensured that the agreed risk-level does not get overstepped. This is done by implementing and fostering adequate departments, job-positions, tools, policies and processes.

Regular audits control that the company infrastructure is sufficient for the risk-level. But this is not enough! A regular process must be in place to see if the company environment is still the same. A new reality may cause that the real risk level is higher than management is aware of.  Further, a changed business reality may offer opportunities to lower the company risk level. Only if management identifies this, it can react and adapt the company structure.

Employees are often unaware why specific controls had been implemented, as they not have a complete view on the big picture. Based on this limitation, employees may be tempted to violate internal processes, as they are perceived as too complex & bureaucratic and on the other hand, the benefit is not clear. This is why internal workshops cannot limit them-selves to the explanation of tools and processes, but have to explain their benefits and their relation to the general business environment.

The company infrastructure ensures compliance with the agreed risk level. Missing company discipline leads to an overstepping and taking on risks, where management decided against them. The sustainability of the company is on risk!

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Internal processes are not only created to limit employees; on the opposite, especially the “code of conduct”, but also all other policies are to define and protect the employee’s space and liberty, as so the individual understands what the company expects from him or her and what not. When the borders are known, the employees have the peace to develop inside them and maximize their creativity. Also new economy’s famous lounges, game-rooms and ice-cream-machines are defined and protected by internal rules and processes.

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