The regulatory thinking cycle

Becoming more inclusive and experimental

A broad framework for exploring new technologies and design principles should form the basis for a revisited regulatory thinking cycle, one that supports collective thinking on new technological paradigms led by regulators. The cycle we propose for collaborative regulation covers ten steps:

Step 1: Observe & gather evidence

The first phase of the cycle is fundamental for building up a sound regulatory response to new technologies, services and more complex phenomena. It is also one of the most important as it grounds the process and links it to market realities.

Step 2: Model & analyse

Based on the evidence and using various analytical and economic modelling techniques as well as regulatory impact assessment, this phase structures available elements/features and creates an evidence-based framework for decision-making.

Step 3: Consult

In order to open dialogue with all stakeholders affected by the new paradigm, it is essential to engage in consultations and constructive dialogue around the new technology paradigm, supported with the evidence produced during the previous phase.

Step 4: Define

Based on the dual input received – hard evidence and stakeholder views – regulators need to develop a definition or, at least, a delimitation of the paradigm, which is crisp and clear, as well as useful from a regulatory perspective. The definition should identify areas for regulatory codification, incentives or enforcement.

Step 5: Ideate

In order to go beyond established regulatory practices and pinpoint new tools, it is important to generate a wide range of ideas, among all stakeholder groups. These will feed into the top scenarios to be explored and prototyped.

Step 6: Prototype

Once all resources are available, the regulatory multi-stakeholder team can develop prototypes for the top ranked solutions based on the ideas identified and the buy-in of stakeholders.

Step 7: Test

Testing is a new, core pillar of the regulatory thinking cycle. It provides space for trial and error, along with the opportunity to fine-tune, revise or scrap ideas before they flow into formal policy and regulatory frameworks. Regulatory sandboxes, accelerators and unregulated pilot projects are central pieces of this phase.

Step 8: Calibrate & balance

Fine-tuning is an important step that allows for calibration of regulatory targets and the regulatory solutions towards them. The process leaves room for rebalancing regulatory intervention, evaluating tools at hand, while increasing chances for successful future regulatory frameworks.

Step 9: Adopt

The culmination of the process is the adoption of the (hopefully) true-and-tested solution and its implantation into the body of national regulation.

Step 10: Revise & enhance

Even when a regulatory decision is adopted, the process is not over – and probably will never be. Regulators need to monitor and continuously analyse implementation and enforcement patterns while studying the short-to-mid-to-long-term effects of regulations and ways to revise and enhance them.

Keep reading: Global ICT Regulatory Outlook 2018