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Compliance! – Help, where do I start?!

1. Be Philosophical

It’s in our nature look for unifying theories – they are reassuring roadmaps that will equip us to navigate uncertainty. Unfortunately, we are simultaneously confronted with an array of challenges to whichever map we choose. Whether it’s through our own human failings or the infamous ‘Black Swans’ out there, the world has a way of slowly ravaging any given roadmap.

Ultimately, we all choose how much to try and control the world around us versus ‘going with the flow’. There are no equations to guide us and apparently, even our genes get in on the act by contributing to the innate differences between those of us who are born to be ‘control freaks’ and others who just ‘live in the now’. (In an organizational context, you might hear this referred to as ‘Risk Appetite’!)

Whatever your genes and whichever compliance map you are now holding, you can be sure that you won’t ever have all the answers – and that’s just fine, relax.

2. Be Plural

You'll never have all the answers – and neither will anyone else – it’s a team effort. Right now, there are thousands of competing map makers from the United Nations to the International Standards Organization to a myriad of not-for-profit thinktanks. Frustrating as it may be, this seething mass of competing minds is one ingredient of mankind’s success as the world turns and events give birth to, road-test and then exhaust, one great looking idea after another.

In all of this mayhem, psychologists inform us that most of the time, we just pick what we like the look of, or simply follow what other people (who we like the look of) are doing. That’s why ‘Social’ business tools are making their mark! – see previous post.

So don’t get trapped into worrying that you haven’t found ‘the one’ ! Mingle, collaborate and get comfortable with a range of ideas and approaches that seem right to you in your situation. (And remember, you and your situation will change anyway).

3. Be Passionate

OK, I can hear you saying that ‘passionate’ and ‘compliance’ just don’t belong in the same paragraph… But you asked me “Where do I start?”. Well, the maddening variety and mayhem of ideas that I described above means that you won’t get past the first major intersection on your map unless you really care about your journey.

What fires you up? Your organization’s processes are too slow? too costly? too complex? or produce a poor quality result? Is it poor performing people or an old-fashioned management culture? Do your customers love your products and services or is it hard work to get them interested? The list of things we can get frustrated about are endless and it’s why ‘compliance programs’ don’t fit on a page, sorry!

Whatever it is, compliance requires passion to keep you going and those around you.

4. Be Prepared

The pace of technological change is hard to comprehend and it’s only going to keep accelerating. Accept that any one of your most cherished projects, frameworks or roadmaps could be wrecked in an instant and you will need to rethink it, rebuild it, resell it. That means keeping all of your associated skills sharp as well.

5. Be Patient

I probably didn’t need to say that, but it’s useful to remember that not everyone has your passion for compliance. It can take a long time to get skeptics over the line about why compliance programs matter in the first place. Many people are genuinely concerned that compliance programs are an expensive use of limited resources and all that is needed is more ‘common sense’ and less bureaucracy.

Find out what their passion is and use those sharp skills to show them why compliance is about reaching goals faster and more effectively.


OK, so I didn’t give you one answer or one place to start or one killer resource. But I have given you one place to come if you need to know more, and where people like you are constantly working on better ways to execute and support compliance frameworks and systems.

Check out the rest of our site to see how 1FiCS works or see our Useful Links page for other map-makers on the same journey.

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