Why You Need a Compliance Architect

Updated: Jan 7


In a world of competing and overlapping compliance demands, siloed departments, and numerous stakeholders the role of an architect is needed more than ever.

Whether you are building compliance programs, management systems, or actual buildings; lessons learned from architecture can provide helpful insights and approaches to address today's compliance challenges.

An important role of an architect is to take multiple stakeholder concerns and achieve as much of the intended outcome as possible.


"An architect is a generalist, not a specialist — the conductor of a symphony, not a virtuoso who plays every instrument perfectly. As a practitioner, an architect coordinates a team of professionals that include structural and mechanical engineers, interior designers, building-code consultants, landscape architects, specifications, writers, contractors and specialists from other disciplines.

Typically, the interest of some team members will compete with the interest of others. An architect must know enough about each discipline to negotiate and synthesize competing demands while honoring the needs of the client and the integrity of the entire project."

— 101 Things I Learned in Architecture School (Matthew Frederick)

Architects find limitations and constraints as creative challenges. When building compliance platforms some of the creative tensions that arise include:

  • prescriptive versus descriptive

  • process versus content

  • behavior versus systems

  • do it now versus do it later

  • top down versus bottom up

  • audit-fix versus continuous improvement

  • ease of use versus utility

  • user experience versus functionality

  • safety versus productivity

  • quality versus performance

  • one process versus multiple processes

  • simple versus comprehensive

  • immediate versus long term

  • tactical versus strategic

  • schedule versus cost

  • And so on

Architecture provides techniques and tools that are helpful to balance these kind of concerns. One powerful technique is to focus on the process and not on the end goal which seems counter-intuitive.

Being process oriented means (from 101 Things I learned in Architecture School):

  1. seeking to understand a problem before chasing solutions

  2. not force-fitting solutions to old problems onto new problems

  3. removing yourself from prideful investment in your projects and being slow to fall in love with your ideas

  4. making design investigations and decisions holistically (that address several aspects of a design problem at once) rather than sequentially (that finalize one aspect of a solution before investigating the next)

  5. making design decisions conditionally that is, with the awareness that they may or may not work out as you continue toward a final solution

  6. knowing when to change and when to stick with previous decisions

  7. accepting as normal the anxiety that comes from not knowing what to do

  8. working fluidly between concept-scale and detail-scale to see how each informs the other

  9. always asking "What if ...?" regardless of how satisfied you are with your solution

Many of these ideas ares similar to those found in LEAN and Design Thinking to help solve problems and find solutions to the most difficult challenges that companies are now facing.

Fixing compliance problems with short term tactical solutions is not enough. What is needed are more holistic approaches that deliver more value to all stakeholders and this is what architects do best.

To find learn more on how Lean Compliance can help architect your compliance programs or management systems visit our website at www.leancompliance.ca

Lean Compliance helps companies adopt and improve compliance systems to better meet performance and outcome-based obligations.

We offer specialized programs and training tailored to fit each company's size and capabilities. 

Schedule a call with us today to find out which programs are best for you.  You can book your appointment here.