Social Media III. TwitterI continue my exploration of the use of social media in your Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance program today. One of the ways that Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) and compliance practitioners can communicate about their compliance programs is through the use of the social media tool Twitter. In an article in the Summer issue of the MIT Sloan Management Review, entitled “How Twitter Users Can Generate Better Ideas”, authors Salvatore Parise, Eoin Whelan and Steve Todd postulated that “New research suggests that employees with a diverse Twitter network – one that exposes them to people and ideas they don’t already know – tend to generate better ideas.” Their research led them to three interesting findings: (1) “Overall, employees who used Twitter had better ideas than those who didn’t.”; (2) In particular, there was a link between the amount of diversity in employees’ “Twitter networks and the quality of their ideas.”; and (3) Twitter users who combined idea scouting and idea connecting were the most innovative.

I do not think the first point is too controversial or even insightful as it simply confirms that persons who tend have greater curiosity tend to be more innovative. The logic is fairly straightforward, as the authors note, “Good ideas emerge when new information received is combined with what a person already knows.” In today’s digitally connected world, the amount of information in almost any area is significant. What the authors were able to conclude is that through the use of Twitter, “the potential for accessing a divergent set of ideas is greater.”

However it was the third finding that I thought could positively impact the compliance profession, the role of the Idea Scout and the Idea Connector. An idea scout isan employee who looks outside the organization to bring in new ideas. An idea connector, meanwhile, is someone who can assimilate the external ideas and find opportunities within the organization to implement these new concepts.” For the compliance practitioner, the ability to “identify, assimilate and exploit new [compliance] ideas” is the key takeaway. However to improve your compliance innovation, “you need to maintain a diverse network while also developing your assimilation and exploitation skills.”

For the compliance practitioner, Twitter can be “described as a ‘gateway to solution options’ and a way to obtain different perspectives and to challenge one’s current thinking.” Interestingly the authors found that “It’s not the number of people you follow on Twitter that matters; it’s the diversity within your Twitter network.” The authors go on to state, “Diversity of employee’s Twitter network is conductive to innovation.” Typically an Idea Scout will “identify external ideas from experts and resources on Twitter.” Clearly the compliance practitioner can take advantage of experts with the anti-corruption compliance field but there is perhaps an equally rich source of innovation from those outside this arena.

An interesting approach was what the authors called the “breadcrumb” approach to finding innovation leaders and thought-provokers. It entailed a “period of “listening” to colleagues and industry leaders who are on the platform – including what they are tweeting about, who they are following and replying to on the platform, who is being retweeted often”. So with most good leadership techniques the first key is to listen.

Equally important to this Idea Scout is the Idea Connector, who is putting the disparate strands from Twitter’s 140 character tweets together. For the compliance function, this will be someone who identifies compliance best practices or other information from Twitter ideas, can then put them together and direct the information to the relevant company stakeholders. Finally, such a person can “Curate Twitter ideas and matches them with company resources needed to implement them.”

Here the authors listed a variety of ways an Idea Connector can use Twitter. One user said, “I try to sift through all the Twitter content from my network and look for trends and relationships between topics. I put my analysis and interpretation on it. I feel that’s where my value-add is.” Another method is to focus on analytics and one user “filtered specific subsets of the topic for different stakeholders” at his company. Another method was to create “social dashboards or company blogs based on the insight” received thought Twitter. Interesting, one of the key requirements for successfully mining Twitter was in finding ways to share its content “since many employees, especially baby-boomers don’t use the platform themselves.” Conversely by mining information from Twitter and presenting it, this can allow these ‘technologically challenged’ older employees to ascertain how they can target millennial’s.

But as much as these concepts can move a CCO or compliance practitioner to innovation in a compliance program, it can also foster additional information through the following of your own employees. It is well known that Twitter can facilitate greater communication to and between the compliance function and its customer base, aka the company employees. However the authors also point to the use of Twitter to enable this same type of innovation because it “is different than email and other forms of information sources in that it enables continuous engagement”.

Twitter was created to allow people to connect with one and other and communicate about their activities. However the marketing potential was immediately seen and used by many companies. Now a deeper understanding of its use and benefits has developed. For the compliance practitioner one thing you want to consider is to align your Twitter and great social media strategy with your compliance strategy; match your Twitter strategy to your compliance strategy.

Twitter can be powerful tool for the compliance practitioner. It is one of the only tools that can work both inbound for you to obtain information and insight and in an outbound manner as well; where you are able to communicate with your compliance customer base, your employees. You should work to incorporate one or more of the techniques listed herein to help you burn compliance into the DNA fabric of your organization.

Once again please remember that I am compiling a list of questions that you would like to be explored or answered on the use of social media in your compliance program. So if you have any questions email them to me, at tfox@tfoxlaw.com, and I will answer them within the next couple of weeks in my next Mailbag Episode on my podcast, The FCPA Compliance and Ethics Report.

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, 2015

Eddie LeBaronToday we celebrate Eddie LeBaron, who died last week. LeBaron was a diminutive pro quarterback for 11 seasons in the National Football League (NFL) in the 1950s and 1960s. He was also a lawyer and decorated veteran, having been awarded the Bronze Star during the Korean Conflict. In his New York Times (NYT) obituary, Frank Litsky wrote “In a position where players are now routinely 6 feet 3 inches or taller, LeBaron was 5-foot-7, and his weight never reached 170 pounds. But he had no fear of scrambling.” LeBaron quarterbacked the Dallas Cowboys from 1960 to 1963, before handling the reins of Coach Tom Landry’s offense over to Don Meredith with his retirement. After his retirement he worked as a color analyst for CBS Sports, who covered the NFL in those days. One of the things that I remember from his commentary work was the need for planning in any game plan. It was one of the first things I recall learning about pro football.

One of the skills you may be called upon as a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance practitioner is the initiation, integration or enhancement of a Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) compliance solution into an organization. Most assuredly, one of the things that is not taught in law school or in any compliance course is project management. As CCO, you may either lead such a project on a day-to-day basis or you may take the role of project sponsor, while delegating the day-to-day running of the project to a compliance practitioner in your group.

I thought about this issue when reading a recent article in the MIT Sloan Management Review, entitled “How Executive Sponsors Influence Project Success”, by Timothy J. Kloppenborg and Debbie Tesch. In their article they note, “The role of a project sponsor is often overlooked. But for every stage of a project, there are key executive sponsor behaviors that can make the difference between success and failure.” I found their article has some excellent tips for the CCO or compliance practitioner who may be facing such a task. The authors break the project life cycle stage into four stages: (1) Initiating Stage; (2) Planning Stage; (3) Executing Stage; and (4) Closing Stage.

I.   Initiating Stage

In this stage there are three key activities that a sponsor should pursue. First, the sponsor needs to set the performance standards. This “can be accomplished in the project charter by stating goals about the project’s strategic value and how it will be measured.” But beyond the written details there must be a “clear understanding of expectations about performance” of which dialogue is critical. Second, the project sponsor must mentor the project manager, whose key responsibility is to explain, “how the project fits into the big picture, defining the performance standards and helping the project manager set priorities.” Finally, the project manager must establish the project priorities, with the “most compelling” questions being “what needs to happen first and how should conflicts by settled?”

II.  Planning Stage

In the Planning Stage the authors believe that there are two critical project sponsor behaviors. The first is to “ensure planning” activities are completed by providing “leadership so that the project manager and team can set goals that align with the vision and broader organizational goals. The second is to “develop productive relationships with stakeholders”. This means frequent meetings and communications. Interestingly, the project sponsor should not only see that “needs are identified and understood” but also make “sure that stakeholders’ emotional concerns are given adequate consideration.” Admittedly this is not something lawyers do particularly well but it is mandatory for the CCO or compliance professional.

III.  Executing Stage

In the Execution Stage the authors identify three elements. First the project sponsor must “ensure adequate and effective communication.” This means that regular communications must occur as the project progresses “to make sure that expectations are met.” However this may require the project sponsor to “stand ready to manage the organizational politics with internal and external stakeholders.” Second, a project sponsor must work to help “maintain relationships with stakeholders.” This element helps facilitate the project manager and project team communications noted in the first element. Here the project sponsor should be “open to direct feedback from team members” to ensure that expectations are met. Finally, the project sponsor should work to “ensure quality” by practicing “appropriate decision-making methods and work to resolve issues fairly.”

IV.  Closing Stage

Finally, in the Closing Stage the authors write that there are two elements that project sponsors should emphasize. The first is to “identify and capture lessons learned.” They should be properly “categorized, stored and distributed in such a manner that future project teams will be able to understand and capitalize on”. The second element is to “ensure that capabilities and benefits are realized.” Capabilities, the authors suggest, “could include employees becoming more committed and more capable”. Further, that processes are “more effective and efficient.” Benefits relates to “verifying that the deliverables that were specified at the beginning were actually provided, work correctly and satisfy customer needs.”

To the extent they know much about project management, most CCOs or compliance practitioners are aware of the “iron triangle” of factors to determine a project success. The authors define these as “cost, schedule and performance.” But the authors’ research has led them to conclude that for a project to be a success it must meet an organization’s expectations. The next evaluative point is did the project come in on time, within budget and to the project’s specifications? Finally, did the project succeed in bringing its touted positive benefits to the organization?

By using the steps the authors have outlined, a CCO can think through the organization and ongoing performance of a project to set it up for success. Equally importantly for the CCO, if the project management has been delegated to compliance team members or with other disciplines inside your organization, such as legal, internal audit, IT or human resources; the continued involvement of a CCO as the project sponsor can be key component. The authors posit, “for every project stage, there are success factors that project sponsors should consider” and that a CCO must engage in an ongoing and continual dialogue with the project manager. Finally, key lessons learned should be captured and used down the road to help facilitate other projects or issues as applicable.

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, 2015

StrategyWhat is your company’s compliance strategy? By this I do not mean what is your company doing to put in a place a best practices anti-corruption compliance program that meets the requirement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) or UK Bribery Act. My inquiry goes both further and deeper. Has your company moved beyond the view that compliance with the FCPA is simply enough by incorporating compliance into your business strategy to secure a competitive advantage going forward? I thought about this issue when I read a recent article in the MIT Sloan Management Review, entitled “Finding the Right Corporate Legal Strategy”, by Robert C. Bird and David Orozco. While the authors posed the questions from the legal perspective, I found their insights equally valid from the compliance perspective.

While I am fairly certain that Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) and compliance practitioners understand the need for the integration of compliance into the day-to-day business operations of a company, many business types still view compliance “as a constraint on managerial decisions, primarily perceiving” compliance as simply a cost. The authors believe that the more enlightened approach is for companies to use functions such as compliance “in order to secure long-term competitive advantage.” To do so the authors detailed five different legal strategies, which they call pathways, that companies might use that I will translate into compliance strategies. They are in ascending order of importance: (1) avoidance; (2) compliance; (3) prevention; (4) value and (5) transformation. The right strategy for your company will depend on a variety of factors such as maturity of your compliance function, commitment by senior management to compliance, your business model and the compliance function’s ability to collaborate with business managers.

Avoidance

This is the idiot response where a company either disregards anti-corruption laws such as the FCPA or UK Bribery Act or engages in willful blindness. Unfortunately, there are many major US and foreign corporations that have come to grief under the FCPA because they did not take some of the most basic steps to comply with these laws. It is largely because senior management believes that compliance provides “little concrete value, so they make no effort to” even acquiring knowledge in the area. Worse yet are companies who gain a modicum of knowledge about such anti-corruption laws “only so that they can circumvent it to achieve a desired objective.” The authors note that while “An avoidance strategy can sometimes be effective…it can also lead to disaster.” This lead to the compliance function and the CCO only being called in an emergency, after the conduct has occurred so that compliance is always in a reactionary mode.

Compliance

This pathway means complying with laws, not the compliance function itself. Under this pathway, “companies recognize that the law is an unwelcome but mandatory constraint on their activities.” So while following this strategy would allow a company to have subject matter expert (SME) practitioners in the field of compliance, it would exist only “so the business could operate within its legal bounds.” Under this pathway, companies still view compliance as a cost to be minimized. Moreover, anti-corruption laws such as the FCPA or UK Bribery Act are “viewed as primarily inflexible—externally imposed rules that cannot be changed or adapted to suit a particular corporate strategy.” This means that business managers will simply not understand that compliance can be used to further business goals. It also leads most business unit folks to believe that compliance is the Land of No and the CCO is in reality ‘Dr. No’ who is there “primarily as a watchdog that polices corporate conduct for illegal activity.”

Prevention 

Under the prevention pathway, senior management acknowledges that anti-corruption laws can be used as competitive advantage “to further well-defined business roles.” This means that the compliance is proactive rather than reactive. Senior managers understand how the law relates to their business areas “and they appreciate how it can be used to minimize particular business risks.” The compliance function “seeks partnerships with managers to help them achieve their risk-management goals.” This pathway has the added benefit that allows compliance practitioners to recognize the importance of measuring and quantifying compliance issues and data “as a part of a broader effort to support a business oriented strategy.” It also means that the compliance function is available to the business unit when the competitive landscape is “strategically assessed” by the business unit. This is more than simply having a seat at the table; it is being a part of and contributing to the commercial strategy.

Value

Companies operating in this pathway use compliance to “create tangible and identifiable value.” But to do so requires a true corporate commitment because business unit managers will need to have a strong understanding of anti-corruption compliance and how it can be tailored to generate value for the company. The CCO, and indeed the entire compliance function, must see itself “as a key stakeholder in helping the company to increase its return on investment” and should see itself in helping to create value for the company. Usually this comes about in two ways. The first is by using compliance to lower costs of doing business, particularly through third parties. Here you can think of reducing the number of vendors who perform the same services or provide the same products to you by appropriate management of your third party compliance program. The second way is by using compliance to increase revenues.

Transformation

In this final pathway, a company will incorporate compliance directly into its business model. While the authors note that few companies have been able to move this far in the legal arena, those who have done so possess a rare and valuable “capability that can provide a competitive advantage that is difficult for a business rival to imitate.” One of the keys to making this transformation is that not only is compliance integrated within “the company’s various value-chain activities; it is also linked with the value chains of important external partners as part of the larger business ecosystem.” This pathway is only available to companies with the most mature compliance function and most usually when compliance is combined with “the business model and core competencies of the company.”

Clearly there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to compliance strategies. However if your compliance program has maturity and senior management can operate with their eyes open, they will see that while the first three strategies focus on managing risk, the final two are targeted towards generating business opportunities or least have compliance as a part of the team doing so. As compliance practitioners move into the CCO 2.0 role that I have advocated, these pathways can provide you with a tangible starting point to educate senior management on what compliance can bring to the (business) table.

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, 2014

Rebel ArtilleryToday is the 151st anniversary of Day 3 of the Battle of Gettysburg. Last year I focused on Pickett’s Charge and lessons that a compliance practitioner might draw from it. This year I want to look at the Confederate artillery bombardment, which preceded Pickett’s doomed attack. It was the largest of the Civil War with up to 170 Confederate guns opening fire on the Union center and approximately 80 Federal guns opening up to return fire. If you have seen the movie Gettysburg, you will remember the awesome cannonades and the young Confederate Artillery General Porter Alexander reporting to General Lee. At the time, it was reported that the barrage was so loud it could be heard as far away as Philadelphia and Baltimore.

The artillery barrage lasted just over one hour. The Confederate guns inflicted some damage on the Union batteries, but they largely overshot their targets. It was believed at the time that the reason the Confederate bombardment was ineffective was that Confederate artillerymen tended to aim high and missed their marks due to poor visibility from all the smoke on the battlefield.

However, a commentator named Captain Thorton, posting online in the American Civil War message board, had the following comments, “A week after the battle, Lt James Dinwiddie working for the Ordnance Dept. conducted tests on the various fuses supplied from around the Confederacy at the Richmond Laboratories. His findings showed that while those fuses manufactured in Charleston and Selma were made of exceptional quality, the rate of burn for those fuses was markedly less. In his findings compared with those fuses as previously supplied to the ANV from the Richmond arsenals it was found the fuses from Charleston and Selma burned at a rate of one second longer for the same length of fuse. The result of course was that those fuses in shells intended to explode over the Federal position at Gettysburg ranged anywhere from 150 to 200 yrds further to the rear before exploding. A 4 inch fuse would burn at the rate as one cut to 5 inches”. In other words, it was the quality in the supply chain, aka QA/QC.

I thought about this problem of quality and how it might relate to the compliance practitioner when I read a recent  article in the MIT Sloan Review of Management, entitled “What to Expect from a Corporate Lean Program”, by Torbjørn Netland and Karsa Ferdows. The focus of their articles was around ‘lean’ programs in the manufacturing sector and how “misplaced expectations of how quickly these programs can improve performance can make their implementation more difficult.” The key findings the authors made were threefold: (1) Management should set appropriate targets to move the process along; (2) There is a positive relationship between company or plant maturity in system implementation and its performance; and (3) Plants need to engage in continual assessment in where they are in the process.

Using the article as a basis for a Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance practitioner, the effectiveness of a compliance system depends on two variables: (1) how widely the compliance system has been implemented in a company, and (2) how thoroughly the company follows its prescriptions. A typical production system has many modules. Typically, at the beginning of an implementation, only a few modules are launched, throughout the company. However as compliance implementation is expanded to other the areas the initial implementation continues to receive upgrades and enhancements. The combination of these two variables — how widely and how thoroughly the compliance system is implemented — reflects a company’s “maturity” in the implementation.

The authors believe this leads to competing arguments for how “maturity in an implementation should affect its performance. On the one hand, if a lean program is a journey of incremental but continuous improvement, we should expect to see a linear relationship between implementation and effect on performance. On the other hand, the “low-hanging fruits” argument suggests that as a plant becomes more mature in an implementation, there would be fewer simple and quick improvements. Therefore, the rate of performance improvement would slow down.”

From this the authors derive four stages of performance improvement, which I believe adapt directly for the CCO or compliance practitioner and in demonstrating how the roles evolve during the life-cycle of a compliance program implementation. 

Stage I – Beginner Compliance Programs

Step One can always be the most difficult but can lead to the greatest results. The difficulty is in bringing in something that people consider new. If you are initially implementing a compliance program there may be some initial resistance to new programs or requirements. But it also provides the greatest opportunity for growth in your compliance regime. So you should expect a low but gradual rate of improvement in the implementation of your compliance regime. As CCO or compliance practitioner you should expect to hold extensive meetings with both the key stakeholders in the business units, senior management and those employees deemed high risk under any anti-corruption regime such as the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) or UK Bribery Act. There should be a dedicated compliance team to drive and coach the program implementation going forward. The budget should set small, measurable targets for improvement and the metrics should be closely followed.

Stage II – In Transition Compliance Programs

When you start to look for ways to improve compliance you inevitably find many low-hanging fruits and simple projects with quick returns. They not only improve the performance of the unit but also convince those directly involved of the value of a production system. Here you can expect to seen improvements in your compliance regime at a high and increasing growth rate. Your role as the compliance practitioner should be threefold. First to set stretch targets and have an expected accelerated rate of improvement. Second, to publicize your compliance program successes throughout the organization. Finally, the authors suggest the need to be ever vigilant for complacency.

Stage III – Advanced Compliance Programs

Companies with advanced compliance programs generally have accumulated both knowledge or and experience with the compliance program. In such companies, the authors predict that there will still be a high rate of improvement but it will be a decreasing rate of growth. However, the low hanging fruit of easy compliance implementation and successes will have been achieved and as the CCO or compliance practitioner in charge you will need to continue to set stretch targets but you may well be faced with a decelerating rate of improvement throughout your organization. You may well need to move your budget to areas for continuous improvement projects such as transaction, third party or relationship monitoring. However, this may be tempered by the fact that you can move more of the ‘doing’ of compliance down into the business units as your program matures.

Stage IV – Gold Standard Compliance Programs

When your compliance program moves to one of the top in your industry it will be time to “move beyond the frontiers of your industry.” As the CCO or compliance practitioner, you can expect to see low rates of improvement and decreasing rates of growth in your overall compliance program improvement. However this does mean you can simply sit around on your hands, as staying at this level is not easy. One thing that will assist you is that there will be a larger pool of compliance talent for you to draw from throughout your organization to help you move to a continuous monitoring model of compliance. By this stage you should have good working relationships with most of the other support functions in your organization which will allow you to leverage upon their specific disciplines for your compliance initiatives going forward.

The authors end their article with something that is often said but bears repeating, that senior management must be committed to the implementation and you must establish a reliable process for measuring the gains you make and the maturity you have achieved. Moreover, the assessment process can be an effective mechanism to transfer best compliance practices and expertise across your organization.

In the aftermath of the Confederate failure at Gettysburg, testing was done on the fuses for Southern artillery shells. This testing showed the reason why the Confederate caissons had been largely ineffective on Day 3 of the battle. However, as your compliance program evolves, your role may well need to change in reference to it. Certainly the roles compliance teams and those in the company business units who assist in the compliance effort will need to be assessed and reviewed as your compliance program matures.

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, 2014

Berlin AirliftAs the USA played Germany in the World Cup yesterday, it is perhaps appropriate that we look back at another June 26th event that involved the US as we celebrate one of the great relief efforts in post-war Europe and the Cold War, the Berlin Airlift. On June 26, 1948, US and British pilots begin delivering food and supplies by airplane to Berlin after the city is isolated by a Soviet Union blockade. Though some in President Truman’s administration called for a direct military response to this aggressive Soviet move, the President was concerned that such a response would trigger another world war. As an alternative, he coordinated a massive airlift operation under the control of General Lucius D. Clay, the American-appointed military governor of Germany. The first planes took off from England and western Germany on June 26, loaded with food, clothing, water, medicine and fuel. By July 15, an average of 2,500 tons of supplies was being flown into the city every day. The massive scale of the airlift made it a huge logistical challenge and at times a great risk, with planes landing at Tempelhof Airport every four minutes, round the clock for the next 15 months. This broke the Soviet blockade.

I thought about this alternative approach that Truman employed, a supply line rather than a military response, when I read MIT Sloan Management Review article, entitled “What Businesses Can Learn From Sports Analytics”, by Thomas H. Davenport. In his article, Davenport explored how “the use of analytics in the sports world has much to teach managers about alignment, performance improvement and business ecosystems.”

For his article, Davenport “interviewed more than 30 representatives of teams, sports analytics vendors and consultants for a report on the state of the art in sports analytics,” in which he “focused on three different areas of activity, each of which is growing rapidly. In order of decreasing prevalence, they are: team and player performance analytics, sports business analytics, and health and injury prevention analytics.” From this research, he developed five key lessons that almost any business could adopt. However I thought about his points in the context of compliance ecosystems rather than business ecosystems so I will use his article as a starting point to consider what compliance can learn from sports analytics.

  1. Align leadership at multiple levels 

Davenport believes “In sports, key decisions — which players to acquire, how much to pay them, and which strategies to adopt for better athletic and business performance — must be made and overseen at multiple levels. As a result, alignment along different management levels is crucial.” Based on his research I believe the message for Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs), compliance practitioners and analytical practitioners is to work together closely and consult frequently.

  1. Focus on the human dimension 

Davenport’s key finding about sports teams is that they realize that their players are both their most important and expensive resources and that sports teams focus on the human dimension of performance in a variety of ways. “First, they address individual-level game performance by monitoring points scored, rebounds gathered, batting averages and other increasingly sophisticated measures of both offensive and defensive performance… Second, teams are beginning to assess not just individual performance, but performance in context.” They will also assess a team’s performance “with and without a combination of players.”

However, if companies say they focus on their employees as their most valuable resource, they typically only focus their analytics on “operational or marketing issues and not on the human dimension of performance.” The key insight here is for compliance to focus on more of a team aspect by investigating a group’s compliance performance “with or without a particular person’s presence could be a valuable insight.” This could be expanded to reviewing wider sales teams in a region, country or product/service line.

  1. Exploit video and locational data 

In Major League Soccer (MLS), players wear a GPS-based locational device that captures all movements around the field. In the NBA, six cameras in the ceiling of each arena capture all movements of the players and ball. All Major League Baseball (MLB) stadiums have cameras that track every pitch, and many teams also track every hit and fielding play with video cameras. This allows a more complete view of the raw numbers that metrics generates.

While it may not seem readily apparent, this type of approach can also benefit the compliance function. The key is that it looks at raw numbers in a different way. So transaction monitoring could be pared with relationship monitoring or other indicia. Also travel and communications could be considered to show what might be happening in locations that are not readily apparent. The key takeaway is that there is more information available by obtaining more types of data.

  1. Work within a broader ecosystem

Davenport found that “Professional sports teams are relatively small businesses, with much of their revenue going toward player salaries, leaving just nominal funds for any data and analytics projects. As a result, teams often need to work within a broader ecosystem of data, software and services providers.” Based on this he believes that a “key in these partnerships is to draw as much as possible from the partner while maintaining key internal capabilities.”

For the compliance professional, you should try to develop relations with key vendors because there are just too many different techniques, types of data and other aspects of analytics to exploit, and even the largest corporation can’t excel on its own. The GRC Pundit, Michael Rasmussen has observed that in GRC there is more than one technology. The same holds true in the compliance space. Jon Rydberg, founder of the Orchid Advisors, has called this the “Compliance Ecosystem Transformation” which he defines as “The coordinated development of compliance activities that transcend your entire supply chain, from suppliers – to manufacturers – to distributors – to retailers.”

  1. Support “analytical amateurs”

Finally, Davenport found that “Some professional athletes have begun to analyze their own performance in depth using public or team data and reports. Specifically, a number of soccer and football players have become assiduous reviewers of their video and GPS data, although the most frequent users have been professional baseball players, particularly pitchers.”

For the compliance professional, this translates that they could also benefit from becoming such ‘analytical amateurs”. Moreover, they could work with business unit personnel to could keep track of their own scores on compliance measures and use that information to improve their performance. Analytics-minded salespeople and managers could, for example, use the extensive data from compliance management management systems to assess and improve their performance.

I found Davenport’s article to be quite thought provoking. For just as President Truman was able to come up with a different approach for a situation that could have led to World War III or at the very least a completely communist dominated unified Berlin, there are different ways to look at problems and find solutions. Using the analytical approach that has become so prevalent in the sports world may lead you to new and different thinking in the compliance arena.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, 2014