Director Maynard Leigh Associates
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7 Rules of Making Compliance Work

1st Aug 2011
Director Maynard Leigh Associates
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The News of World saga highlights what it means to have integrity and how organisations must achieve the right balance between compliance, regulations and freedom for people to create, make decisions and be human.

The bigger the organisation the more integrity and compliance surface as an issue. When many people in an organisation are doing something wrong, for example, it can be easy to conclude this is “normal” and not in fact wrong at all.

No amount of rules, regulations, lists of compliance requirements will stop people behaving badly if the culture does not place a premium on integrity. KPMG Research in the US for example, shows how a large proportion of employees spot things their organisation is doing wrong and would cause major problems if exposed.

Ultimately it can be more important that people feel uncomfortable with what is going on than the strict following of a set of rules. Organisations that create a culture where people feel free to speak up about their discomfort are more likely to make compliance into a positive, rather than a negative force for change.

If your compliance requirements rely mainly on a “tick boxes” approach they are almost certainly inadequate.

1)    Judgement is generally more valuable than rules—if you think what you or someone else is doing is wrong…it probably is

2)    Compliance is about integrity, both yours and the organisation’s. If you’re not passionate about protecting integrity why should anyone else be?

3)    It’s seldom in the formal rules but ask the fundamental question: “would I do this to someone I love?”

4)    To make compliance succeed, build in drivers of excellence and performance, not what creates fear

5)    If the common answer to the question “why do we do it this way?” is “because that’s how it’s done,” then your compliance approach is heading for a fall.

6)    Be alert to differences between compliance driven by statutory requirements and compliance based on bureaucracy and a culture of control. The former is seldom negotiable the latter is nearly always open to question.  

7) If your compliance approach is killing creativity, it’s time to re-think the rules.

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