Let’s Talk About Compliance, Baby

How to break the routine of learning the rules

How to break the routine of learning the rules

By Ilse Leen

Recently I joined the first session of the Indian Summer School at TinQwise. The topic of that session was compliance. Boring or complex? Not at all. As a co-worker said, rightfully: it just means sticking to what you’ve promised. Following the rules that people set in order to work together in an honest and integer way.

But in order to apply the rules, you also need to know the rules. That’s exactly what a lot of customers ask us when they approach us for the very first time: how they can show that they meet all the demands for The People in Charge.

Learning the rules is the first step in compliance. We know how to do that.

But… (there’s always a but)

Rules are never just a matter of black and white. They’re full of compromises and they exist by the grace of context. Dan Ariely does a great job of showing this in his social experiments. One of the conclusions we could draw from his TED Talk was: making the rules on your own and sharing them with your employees doesn’t really lead to less lying and deceiving.

Knowing the rules isn’t the same as feeling the rules. It doesn’t mean that people can – and will – follow the set of rules that has been outlined. So if your employees can only reproduce the rules, you won’t get very far. But the second step – applying and internalizing – is a lot more difficult to train.

“Cheating is a very simple cost-benefit analysis. You say, what’s the probability of being caught? How much do I stand to gain from cheating? And how much punishment would I get if I get caught?” (Dan Ariely)

To boldly go...

Should that discourage us? Not at all. It was exactly at this point where I saw a lot of beaming faces at the Summer School. People immediately started exchanging ideas and experiences. That’s exactly how we turn compliance into something much bigger and comprehensive than merely a checkmark on a list.

User generated compliance

Let your employees make the rules. Start by imaging a challenging situation where things go wrong. Your challenge will be to put your thinking caps up and think of a rule who can prevent things from going wrong. Vote, think and be creative, because at the end of the challenge you’re allowed to really only have one rule. When you’ve done this, try it one more time but do so with a situation that’s in conflict with the first scenario. Now what happens to that great rule you came up with?

This is how you can optimally use the wisdom of the crowd, and you’ll also gain a lot of insights in the origin and complexity of the existing rules.

Big social data compliance

Seduce people to peer over their own white picket fence. Rules can only be applied in the complex reality of everyday life. That means dealing with different interests that have to remain balanced. What’s the trick to learning this? Tinder. Yes – truly. Present the group simultaneously – but independently from each other’s – over a longer period a couple of simple binary choices. Every swipe will immediately affect the parameters of the balance. But be careful, because it affects everybody’s balance – so you will have to make choices together to make sure that order remains in place.

This is how you can make people feel conflicting interests, teach them why it’s necessary to have rules and you can offer insight in the short and long-term impact.

Immersive compliance

Have your employees experience what it makes to make a wrong step. One of the most powerful learning experiences you can ever have is when you’re fully immersed in the context of the situation. Where you can’t separate fiction and reality because of a rollercoaster of emotions. Imagine an escape room where a group is presented with moral dilemmas that will immediately affect the second group in the room next door. Once that’s over – the rules will be reversed…

This is how you can forge a strong connection between choice and effect in a short period of time, that will remain embedded in the memory and the feelings of your employees.

Let's talk about it

We’ve already implemented a great deal of these ideas, while we’re still working on making others possible. Our conclusion: the effectiveness will depend on…. Yep, the context. Exactly. We love to talk more about this (and not only during the Indian Summer School)!

Want to find out more?

Check out our theme page about Compliance.

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