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The Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs, Spider-Man, and you.

The Department of Justice’s “Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs” rests on two assumptions:

1. Compliance has a seat at the table.

2. Because of #1, compliance officers should be accountable for results.

The legal requirements haven’t changed; the focus and emphasis has just shifted from "are you trying?” to “is it working?”

Which means:

Congrats, you're Spider-Man.

No, for real.

Basically, the DOJ is Uncle Ben and you're Peter Parker.

You've just beat up that bully at school with your spidey-strength. Horrified, Uncle Ben gives you a ride to school to reconnect, and just when you're all "man, being super strong rules," he delivers his devastating "with great power comes great responsiblity" line.



And this is kind of a bummer, because having power without responsibility is way more fun.

It is more fun to have awesome Spider-Man power without the "having to fight villains who eat murder for breakfast" stuff.

And it is more fun to have the budget to gallavant around the world speaking to employees about values without the "learning about really specific business processes and fixing them" stuff.

But, that's where we are.

We have power, and the Department of Uncle Ben Justice just reinforced the "responsibility" part. That's what the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs does.

So, here's what to do about it.

1. Make sure you actually have great power.

The Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs assumes that compliance is treated as a real corporate function and can make real progress in controlling risk. 

Not just as a matter of law—as a matter of practice. The assumption is that if you're in a compliance job, you can get results.

If that seems ridiculous to you because you find yourself getting continually shut down at your company, the problem is your company. Quit and go somewhere else.


Compliance will never be easy, but we talk to people every day that live the reality the DOJ is describing—their jobs are tough, but they have power and influence and are making a difference.

If that’s not you, take control of the situation and brush off your resume. You will be happier elsewhere. And you won't have to be afraid of getting grilled by the DOJ about why you stayed in a job where you knew you couldn't accomplish anything.



Need help slogging through the Evaluation of Corporate Compliance Programs? Get our free roadmap to implementing it here:

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2. Embrace great responsibility.

Fight the urge to live in the pre-February state of the world, where effectiveness was primarily measured through best practices surveys and benchmarking groups.

That was a measure of what you do. And if you do not have power, that is about all you can really measure.

But now that you have power, the metric is not what you are doing.

The metric is results.

And whoo boy, results are scary—because they're not fully in your control.

You can try your hardest and still not get results if your efforts aren't going to the right tasks; there are tons of businesses that fail every day for exactly that reason.

But the way forward is to embrace that.

Embrace that you're accountable for results and take a hard look at what you're doing. And then ask yourself these two questions.

1. Are you measuring results?

Or are you just doing a long list of stuff?  If you're doing so many things that you don't have time to see if any of them are working, something is horribly wrong.

2. Do your results measure what people are actually doing?

Or do they just show what people are thinking and feeling?  That's the difference between audits and monitoring, on the one hand, and training quizzes and employee engagement surveys, on the other.

Those questions will give you an honest—and potentially painful—look at whether you're on track or not. 

You need to measure results, and you need to measure them through audits and monitoring before you do anything else—because otherwise anything you do will just be guesswork.

This is tough, yes—but it's what you need to do. And it's way more rewarding to be able to show you made a difference than just add one more thing to your list of to-do's. 


And if you want to go deeper down the rabbit hole of effectiveness?

Read this. It’s free. And it walks you through applying an effectiveness mindset to how you do compliance training.


Download it!