The following questions were asked in an interview with Raimund Laqua, Founder and Chief Compliance Engineer at Lean Compliance.
1. What made you decide to start Lean Compliance?
Over the last 25 years I noticed that many companies start well with their compliance initiatives but they don't end well. It always was 2 steps forward and 3 steps back. It was hard for them to advance their safety, quality, environmental and regulatory compliance programs when the ground was constantly shifting beneath their feet due to changes in standards, regulations, organizational structures, leadership and so on. There had to be a way to help these companies that are struggling to stay above water to do better and in the process achieve better outcomes. That is why I started Lean Compliance to answer that question.
2. Why did you pick the name Lean Compliance?
Early on I realized that companies could not make any improvements if all their resources were tied up fighting fires. To advance compliance more capacity was needed and that is precisely what LEAN helps with. LEAN has helped many companies and industries to reduce waste in their processes. This creates room for further improvements to be made including those needed for compliance.
As far as using the word "Compliance" goes, I am not fond of it. Few people like compliance and it brings with it negative connotations. I always knew that compliance needed to go beyond conformance and focus instead on outcomes. This should if done properly be received more positively.
Perhaps, someday we might call it something else. Until then, I am trying to change our mindset from being reactive and negative and tilt it towards being proactive and positive.
3. What are the challenges that you see with how compliance is currently done?
This may seem odd to mention, but the most serious problem has to do with our attitude towards compliance. Most companies see compliance as a necessary evil instead of as a necessary good. This attitude reinforces a reactive behavior that only deals with compliance after the fact. Companies spend most of their time paying off their compliance debt by addressing corrective actions. However, this takes too long and prevents them from benefiting from the outcomes of their investment. It's like a mortgage to them that they hope to pay off eventually not realizing that when they do they will have paid several times for it in interest.
Another important challenge is how standards and regulations have changed. They are not as prescriptive as they once were. Many are now management or performance based requiring companies to continuously improve and advance outcomes. Its no longer enough to just follow procedures, companies now need to actually improve safety, quality, and environmental impacts. This requires knowledge of how to deliver effective programs and systems and this is something that many companies are lacking.
4. How does Lean Compliance help companies address these challenges?
There are no silver bullets, or one time fixes. Depending on how much compliance debt a company has will determine how best to proceed. That is why we created, "The Proactive Certainty Program." This program follows a process we developed that helps companies to continuously improve their compliance so that they not only pay off their debt but stay out of debt. As each company is different we tailor this process based on the capabilities and competencies they already have.
5. What would you like to say to those who are feeling the weight of compliance but not sure what to do next?
Don't wait for a heart attack before you decide to improve your health. In the same way, don't wait for an incident or an audit finding before you act. As with your health, being proactive can decrease the likelihood of a heart attack in addition to bringing with it the benefits of a healthier life style. Compliance functions the same way. It all begins with your attitude and that is something that you need to change. We can help you do the rest.