Henry VMost people remember the St. Crispin’s Day speech in Henry V as one of the greatest speeches in all of Shakespeare. However many people do not focus on what led to that speech which was that Henry went out among his troops, disguised as a commoner to ask they what they thought and to hear what they had to say about the upcoming battle with the French. One of the most important things that Henry learns is that his men, while willing to do their duty, believe they will all die the next day in battle, most particularly because of the overwhelming size differential in the two armies. Henry takes this information and incorporates those fears, together with English patriotism, into the rousing speech he gave before he led his men to victory.

I am a huge fan of using social media in your compliance function. I often point to Louis Sapirman, the Vice President (VP), Associate General Counsel (AGC) and Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) at Dun & Bradstreet, as an example of a company and CCO that has embraced the use of social media to advance their best practices compliance program.

CCOs and compliance practitioners often ask me how they could begin to get their arms around how to structure such a program for their company. In an article in the MIT Sloan Management Review, entitled “Finding the Right Role for Social Media in Innovation”, Deborah Roberts and Frank Pillar reviewed companies that were not deriving significant benefit from their customer facing social media efforts. I found their discussion of potential remedies as a useful tool to help CCOs design an internal company wide social media campaign.

After acknowledging that social media focuses on the social aspects of the communication, I think the most important thing to remember is that communication in social media is two-way; both inbound and outbound. It can help to bring your employee base together in an efficient manner to create an environment conducive to compliance for your organization. It also has the benefit of continued engagement. It is more than putting on training or even a Compliance Week set of initiatives, you can continue the conversation and enthusiasm about compliance going forward.

The authors break this down further into three parts that emphasize (1) the need to listen to and learn from user-generated content; (2) the need to engage and facilitate dialogue with employee innovators; and (3) to find an audience of early adopters to create excitement and collect feedback. No doubt inspired by some fond childhood memories, the authors monikered these three concepts as (a) Camp Explore, (b) Camp Create and (c) Camp Communicate.

Camp Explore

This is the method the authors suggest of how to generate employee insights into your compliance program “where activities are designed to extend the breadth and depth of how organizations search for innovations” even in the compliance arena. The key is that the compliance function must be listening and listening in a manner which they may not have used previously. The authors write that you will need to “learn to read the signals from large, diverse, disconnected, and unstructured pools of data generated by users. In addition, they will learn to analyze and convert blog posts, tweets, and user-generated content into valuable insights for new products.”

Compliance professionals will need the skills of both a social scientist and a data scientist at Camp Explore. This is because compliance practitioners will need to “assimilate, combine, and utilize data from many different sources” across the globe. The authors noted, “they will need to acquire skills in computational techniques to unveil trends and patterns within and between the various data sets.” The overall award from Camp Explore “is to sharpen their business acumen and teach them how to communicate the findings to those involved in [compliance] projects.”

Camp Cocreate

If a company has matured past Camp Explore, the next step the authors suggest is Camp Cocreate for companies that “know they actively want to engage and involve [employees] in the innovation process” around compliance. The overall goal is to be more collaborative to allow employees to be more involved in the design process. As a CCO or compliance professional you will “learn how to engage, identify, and select the right participants and develop the right incentives to encourage their participation. Creativity is both an input and an output of the cocreation process. Managers will also develop skills in relationship building and gain experience in the art of conversation and dialogue, a key aspect of collaboration. Managers will learn how to become better facilitators and community managers.”

One of the important factors is to visit with “unconventional users” to help facilitate the creative process. Here social media itself can be a powerful tool, facilitating a two-way communication street to allow the compliance function to hear and even see what business and other types in the field may see and hear. The model of involving employees for in-house innovation has always been useful to help build buy-in and acceptance but the authors also found that more diverse participation in the creation process can provide a richer developed process. 

Camp Communicate

This learning camp focuses on the most obvious uses of social media, to communicate and tell a story. The authors write, “As social media becomes an ever more integral part of people’s work and social lives, people have come to expect communication about products and brands via social media channels.” Social media can also afford the compliance function the opportunity to interact more directly with its customer base, the company’s employees, in a manner that is far more engaging than the old command and control approach.

If your goal in the compliance function is to create awareness and publicize your compliance program and initiatives, social media can be a powerful tool for you. Indeed the authors believe it should be a “core activity.” Through the use of social media tools, your compliance function can not only tell the story of compliance but also communicate expectations and even train. Yet once again it is simply more than a one-way tool as using social media facilitates a two-way communication. Just as employees are more apt to tell you about a concern immediately or soon after they have been trained on that issue; they may well communicate directly with you after having received a social media communication on subjects such as managing of third party relationships.

The authors end their article on a cautionary note. They believe many companies are approaching social media in the same manner as they approached the dot-com boom of the 1990s. Companies are embracing the technologies but simply following the herd, “In the case of social media, they embrace whatever social media sites and strategies are in vogue without developing a coherent strategy for tying their social media activity to new product development. Having a Facebook page, creating a brand community, or having a social media page dedicated to a new [compliance] launch will not, on its own, improve a company’s [compliance] performance.”

CCOs and compliance practitioners need to develop a dedicated compliance strategy around social media, in the context of your corporate objectives. Just as Henry V gave one of the most rousing speeches in all of Shakespeare, basing it on the input he received from his men, you can take the input from your employee base and create a compliance experience that your employees will embrace.

This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of the author. The author is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, legal advice, or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such legal advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified legal advisor. The author, his affiliates, and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person or entity that relies on this publication. The Author gives his permission to link, post, distribute, or reference this article for any lawful purpose, provided attribution is made to the author. The author can be reached at tfox@tfoxlaw.com.

© Thomas R. Fox, 2016