Compliance is often considered as a hindrance more than a help. Many organizations believe that they might do better if they were less encumbered by having to meet obligations.
The philosopher Emmanuel Kant pondered the same kind of thing using the following metaphor:
“The light dove, in free flight cutting through the air the resistance of which it feels, could get the idea that it could do even better in airless space. “
Without the resistance of air to contend with the dove thought it might soar higher.
There is an art to flying. Too much drag or not enough resistance will prevent flight from occurring. However, removing the air altogether is removing what is essential for the dove to fly. It is the very act of contending with air that enables the dove to soar.
The same might be said about compliance.
It is the process of meeting obligations that a business develops the art of compliance. Removing the need to meet obligations is removing what is essential for companies to achieve its goals. Without obligations to contend with organizations would not get off the ground.
Resistance is not always a hindrance.
Resistance can be the very thing that strengthens our abilities. It helps the dove to fly higher and an organization to achieve higher standards.
We know that when it comes to meeting safety, quality, and environmental obligations that it is by meeting standards that a company develops the capability to be safe, to create quality, and to reduce its impact on the environment.
This is what vision zero objectives are all about. It is not the goals so much as the struggle to get closer to them that matters most. It is the striving that creates excellence not in spite of these goals but because of them. Obligations are the air beneath an organization’s wings. It provides the resistance needed for flight.
What does this means for organizations that want to improve their compliance?
Perhaps, instead of trying to remove obligations or doing the minimum, invest in your people and processes to learn how to become excellent at the art of compliance. You may end up not only getting off the ground but you may actually start to soar.