We very interesting discussion at my last Regatta about the value of paperwork and how having things written down can make it much easier to persuade other organisations that you are acting responsibly and can be trusted. It can also promote discussion and help clarify what you are going to do.
My problem with it is that, all too often it could hang you. If something happens the lawyers will look at it and may be able to identify failings in the way you have conducted yourselves. You said you would do this and you have not. You failed to respond to this document - you were negligent!
Often the problem comes down to a failure to communicate what is written to the troops on the ground - the briefing is inadequate or does not explain to them the reasons for a decision.
The regatta had some excellent facilities to recover casualties both afloat and from the beach - but this had not been adequately explained to the Safety Crews who had to made their own assessment of what they would do. They would not have waited for the specialist on water recovery team - because all they had been told was that a First Aid team was afloat. They had not been told that they had a specialist in water spinal board with which to recover the casualty. They had not been told that the beach recovery team were trained and that it had been agreed that they would transport the casualty to hospital. At all other events the ambulance service has attended and they don't go in the water - so safety crew thinking is what is the best spot to transfer a casualty to the ambulance - and that is certainly not the beach. In the event of a real incident they would probably follow instructions on the radio but had the situation been explained to them they would have been much happier and much more likely to follow instructions.
Communication is the most difficult thing to achieve. At the end of the day people have to talk to one another.