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Governance, Compliance and Simplicity

simplicityI have always admired the ability of intelligent people to explain complex ideas in simple terms. Prosecutors have to explain complex facts and crimes to a jury. If you ever watch TED talks online, you can see a variety of speakers who have mastered difficult concepts and explain them in terms that are accessible to a wide audience.

This same approach is needed in the governance and compliance field. Too often, I listen to so-called experts speak on this subject and find them disconnected or discombobulated in their explanations.

Many of their ideas are intuitive and can be made readily accessible through basic explanations that depend on interpersonal skills.

It is frustrating sometimes to listen to (or read) governance and compliance experts. These so-called experts create unnecessary complexity around governance and compliance concepts as a means to promote their own importance.

These professionals do a disservice to their profession and hinder the growth of the compliance profession. Compliance professionals have to guard against the “pomposity” factor – the inflated ego that comes with the rise of the compliance profession.simplicity2

In reality, compliance principles are basic. A culture of ethics is not difficult to define, nor is it hard to envision how such a culture operates. Similarly, the importance of accountability to an ethcis and compliance program does not require complex terms. Culture and accountability are relatively easy concepts. How to implement and embed these concepts is much more complex and depends on the specific circumstances of an organization.

There are no uniform rules for developing a culture of ethics or ensuring accountability. To the contrary, there are many solutions to such issues, and compliance professionals have to be creative in how they design and implement strategies in different types of organizations. The principals that comprise these concepts are not difficult, nor should they be overly complex.

Governance and compliance professionals need to be humble and they need to examine themselves in the mirror. When getting ready to address a group – inside a company or at a professional association meeting – professionals have to make sure their ideas are basic and accessible.

The trick is not to make it complex but to build basic ideas into an action plan that fits as many organizations as possible. Moreover, governance and compliance professionals have to make sure that their ideas are communicated, their principles embraced and implemented. That is the reason they write and speak to others – to promote governance simplicity4and compliance principles, promote their respective professionals and advance the cause of ethics and compliance.

In the years to come, as the compliance profession continues to grow, the test for the profession will not be how many people they impress with their knowledge and ideas, but how many people understand the concepts, embrace them for their organization and implement them to ensure compliance. To do so successfully, governance and compliance professionals have to define their issues with simplicity and clarity.

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