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Simplicity – the Key to Compliance Persuasion

Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things. – Isaac Newton

We all know the adage – Keep it Simple Stupid (“KISS”).  

The principle applies to all organizations and underscores an important communications requirement.  The governance landscape has become more complex over the last decade with competing priorities and demands on leadership and organizations.

Many corporate actors confuse complexity with importance.  We have all witnessed or presentations (inside or outside of a company) that lack practical and basic concepts and instead hinge on explaining complex ideas.  Audience members quickly turn off.  The presenter has lost the audience.

To succeed in their mission, compliance professionals have to sharpen their presentation and persuasion skills.  By starting with the simple KISS proposition, compliance professionals have sharpened their position in the corporate governance landscape.  Compliance has used its communications talents to establish themselves as important players in the corporate governance mix.

Frankly, the profession is maturing; compliance professionals spend less time and effort justifying their existence and the importance of compliance to an organization’s health and sustainability.  Budgets may ebb and flow.  But a healthy and robust compliance profession is here to stay.

Compliance professionals, however, recognize that they need to continue to evolve and take on new risks and build programs tailored to this new profile.  To execute these new strategies, compliance professionals need to garner support from leadership and management.

Compliance professionals regularly have to persuade the board of directors and senior management of the importance of compliance tasks and priorities.  In doing so, compliance professionals need to rely on their unique ability to persuade corporate leaders through effective communications strategies.  This means, at bottom, speaking directly and citing “simple” concepts. 

It is easy to get lost in the complexities of a compliance program, data analytics and social engineering ideas – in the end, a compliance program itself has to be accessible, simple and straightforward.   Messaging around a compliance program is a good first start for developing simple concepts – such as mission statements and corporate values.

Aside from these basic starting points, a compliance program depends on operationalizing its functions with the support and assistance of interdependent functions.  Compliance professionals need to work closely with Human Resources, Finance, Legal, Procurement (Supply Chain), Sales, Information Technology and Security (as a start).  These alliances depend on communications, and persuasion. 

Again, internal support requires simple and clear messaging without undue complexity.  Within this framework, effective compliance officers provide an important perspective and ability to simplify difficult and complex ideas into action plans.  As such, compliance officers must be able to persuade and enlist mutual actions to benefit operational partners.

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