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Traditional versus Operational Approach to Compliance

Compliance is the outcome of meeting obligations which requires compliance to be operational.


Compliance operability is achieved when essential functions, behaviours, and interactions exist at levels sufficient to produce a measure of effectiveness – this defines Minimum Viable Compliance (MVC).

Traditional approaches never reach MVC until the very end which is too slow and often too late to protect value creation and stay ahead of risk.

The good news is there is a better way to do compliance that delivers benefits sooner, with greater certainty, and less waste.


This approach is based on Lean Startup model by Eric Ries which we have adapted to the compliance domain as shown in the following diagram:

Traditional versus Operational Approach to Compliance
Traditional versus Operational Approach to Compliance

The traditional approach is based on implementing components or the parts of the compliance function starting at the bottom and advancing in capability and maturity until the last phase is reached. This is when effectiveness happens as measured against realized outcomes. This is also when effectiveness can start to improve over time.


The operational approach is based on first achieving operability which is the minimum level of capability for creating outcomes - a measure of effectiveness. Advancement in capability and maturity happens across all functions, behaviours, and interactions always tied to realizing higher levels of effectiveness. This provides the maximum amount of learning with the minimum amount of cost creating less waste while delivering benefits sooner.


The operational approach has improved the development of products and services particularly when contending with uncertainty and achieving outcomes are important. This is the case for all organizations under performance and outcome-based regulation.

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