Compliance Is Not a Dirty Word

When we hear or see the word “compliance”, many of us react negatively. Why is that? Generally, it’s our perception that some organization (the U.S. Congress, for example) is forcing extra work on us to prevent us from doing something we had no intention of ever doing. In other words, we feel like we’re forced to pay for the mistakes (or evil) that others have done.

It’s the same way most company policies are made. Someone makes a mistake or displays some moral ambivalence, and the company develops a policy to prevent a recurrence of the problem, rather than directly address the incident.

…my psych profile fit a certain…’moral flexibility’ would be the only way to describe it…
Martin Blank, “Grosse Pointe Blank” (1997)

It’s unfortunate but it’s a fact of life that we have to comply with various and multiple regulations, regardless of our line of business. Regulatory compliance is just the tip of the iceberg, though. There are many more important requirements with which you have to comply.


You comply with requirements in your personal and your business life all the time. You cut your intake of fried, fatty, and overprocessed foods. You exercise moderately to vigorously several days a week. You get 7-8 hours of sleep every night. These aren’t your physician’s or the AMA’s requirements – they’re your body’s requirements. You comply with them in order to live a quality life. Fail to meet those requirements and you run risks such as more frequent and longer illnesses and a shorter life span.

When you’re in the right place at the right time with the right product at the right price, you’re meeting a certain customer’s requirements. When customers’ requirements change, you may change. You may adapt your product, or develop new ones. You may modify your internal processes. You may acquire different tools and techniques. You should train — and retrain — your employees.

You may be forward thinking, getting your company ready for requirements that don’t yet exist.


Complicated, unclear, vague, and even unstated requirements — how are you supposed to comply with them? You can’t.

You think the government has a monopoly on hard-to-comply-with requirements? Think about that special person in your life. You ever have fights? Why? Because you assume so much…because you take a lot for granted…because you put your needs before theirs.

We fail to adequately communicate our requirements and — more importantly — we fail to listen to theirs. Clear and complete communication is the best way to ensure compliance, whether you’re talking about complying with someone’s personal wishes, a customer’s needs, or the law.

Compliance means satisfaction — not a dirty word in anyone’s vocabulary.


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Posted in Compliance, Customer experience
One comment on “Compliance Is Not a Dirty Word
  1. Associating what we ask or demand of ourselves in our personal lives as compliance is an insight I hadn’t thought of. Brilliant thinking Stephen!

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