Updated: Mar 27
When life is uncertain we are blind to what may lie ahead. As a result we are more likely to bump into things, fall in a hole, or any number of things that might harm us. Our anxiety will no doubt also be high never sure of what may happen.
So we walk slowly, test every step, as limiting as that might be, to keep from hitting a wall, falling in a hole, or walking off the edge of a cliff.
This is what it is like for many organizations with their compliance. They don’t know their obligations or the commitments they have made and are unsure of how to stay between the lines. These organizations have a form of compliance blindness.
So they act slowly, audit every step, as limiting as that might be, with hopes that everything and everyone stays on-side and heading in the right direction. Never sure of what may happen, anxiety will replace what little assurance they might have.
Fortunately, compliance blindness is for the most part curable.
Improving Our Vision
How do we create the vision needed to move faster while staying between the lines?
Compliance needs to contend first with epistemic uncertainty. The lack of knowledge (more than just lack of data) creates the greatest amount of blindness and is reducible by:
Knowing your obligations (KYO).
Identifying your commitments to meet your obligations (goals, targets, objectives, etc.) and how these commitments will be met.
Estimating the uncertainty of keeping all your promises (operational risk) associated with each obligation.
Establishing measures to improve the probability to keep all your promises and meet all your obligations.
Implementing real-time systems that always let you know the status of your compliance and risk.
This will act as a real-time GPS/ radar to improve your vision and avoid obstacles ensuring progress towards mission success. Confidence will replace anxiety, providing the assurance that organizations need. Some will finally be able to sleep at night.
What We Still Cannot See
There will still be things we cannot know or see. This is a form of aleatory uncertainty which is irreducible. This risk can only be addressed by using margins (buffers, contingency, insurance, etc.) to cushion the effects when we run into something or something runs into us. The amount of margin we need will depend on how much irreducible risk we have.
Keeping our heads in the sand and staying blind to our obligations is a blindness that can and should be avoided.
If we don't buy down reducible risk we will need even more margin than we would have otherwise. We will need to cover the loss of reputation, quality, safety, trust, and perhaps the loss of our business. These costs will be much higher than the measures to buy-down risk in the first place.
Is your organization suffering from compliance blindness?
Take the compliance vision test here to find out.