The Regulation of Exceptions
The term ‘Regulation of Exceptions’ already incorporates the paradox: is it possible to regulate exceptions? How, then, are exceptions from the regulation of exceptions regulated – through regulation of exceptions to the exceptions? An endless regression threatens. And how does one deal with the fact that the exception, by regulation of exceptions, threatens to become the general rule? Are the regulations of exceptions, therefore, an attempt to eliminate the particular from the general? What happens when the exception becomes the rule, which can be observed, again and again, where there are regulations of exceptions? Is it only possible to regulate predictable exceptions with the regulation of exceptions (“Open on working days, except Wednesday afternoons.”) Are predictable exceptions still exceptions or can only the extraordinary (“Closed due to Illness.”) be described as an exception? What happens if suddenly everyone practices (best practice) the desired exceptions (“extraordinary performance”, “unique selling propositions”)? If everybody is standing on tiptoes, then nobody will see more anymore!
In the face of these, initially confusing questions, we can see that exceptions and how to deal with them can be seen as challenges and demands for the management within organisations. Thus, it is really not so easy with regulations and their application in non-trivial contexts. The functional, orderly organisation is peppered with anarchy, because it requires both – whether it wants to or not.