Post Office Scandal in UK – Need for Governance?

LONDON - Jan. 19, 2024 - PRLog -- Let's focus on the 'big stuff' here, and put-to-one-side the shocks from the media, such as: 'treat your colleagues with dignity', question prosecution evidence, challenge assumptions of guilt, overturn unjust legal decisions, compensation for victims, find and take action against the culpable, etc. It is critical to address the valid emotions, for injustices to be reversed for postmasters, and compensation to be made. But let's look at this through a governance lens and from a wider perspective than the one organisation.

Good governance

'Governance' is the way that businesses are managed and operated – through the business leaders and owners who must:

1. Have clear accountability, objectives and policies.
2. Define the required culture and conduct that the business will adopt including for all partners – especially all engaged third-parties.
3. Ensure that the business and leadership have the skills for this and to consistently apply the governance and ethics desired.
4. Use technology and tools, services and data to do this and to monitor and measure performance, governance and culture.
5. Do things properly, manage the business appropriately and make the right decisions.
6. Identify when things go wrong, monitor and control change that is required, and continue to make appropriate decisions.
7. Recognise when the business has moral or people obligations that conflict with other objectives; and address them.

When we appoint people without strong governance experience onto our boards, or rely upon 'colleagues, friends and family' without the skills of independence, control and oversight: we ask for trouble.  When we fail to listen to our customers, our staff, our compliance and audit functions, we fail to understand the weaknesses within our proposition, our leaders and our controls.

Worse still, failure to comprehend and operate within the law or regulations, will draw attention to us; that will lead to challenge, scrutiny, enforcement and ultimate costs and fatal reputational damage and/or business restrictions or license removal. Possibly imprisonment for those in positions of authority.

To get things so wrong (often, but here in the Post Office), can only be about the leadership (the CEO, the Board, or major shareholders). Their leadership and decisions 'set the culture', appoint the team, set direction, strategy and business ethos.

From emerging detail in the Post Office Scandal, show us increasingly:

1. A 'self-preservation mentality' with an absence of accountability: this leads people to make inappropriate decisions, avoid decisions, selectively shared facts and data, and ignored consequences.
2. Failure to challenge and manage people around us and third-party service providers: which leads to poor governance and bad outcomes.

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