Compliance does not exist in a time-warp vacuum, with programs living in 1977 when the first major anti-corruption legislation, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act was passed. The law has advanced since that time, as has compliance and society as well. One of the ways that you can engage in continuous improvement for your compliance program is based upon the two-way use of social media. Social media can be used not only to communicate with your employee base but also for your employee base to communicate with you, most particularly if you are prepared to listen.

For every CCO or compliance practitioner, you have multiple audiences. First and foremost is your employee base but there can be third parties, shareholder or other stakeholders. One of the key insights of several business leaders I have studied is the art of listening. In an article in 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, as it allows you to both listen and communicate. 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 through continuous improvement.

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Social media is a two-way approach to communications.
  2. Twitter or a similar tool can facilitate your compliance program improvement.
  3. Study and embrace technology to move your compliance program forward.

 

For more information on how an independent monitor can help improve your company’s ethics and compliance program, visit this month’s sponsor Affiliated Monitors at www.affiliatedmonitors.com.

May 4th is universally recognized (at least in the universe I inhabit) as Star Wars Day. According to Wikipedia, “May 4 is called Star Wars Day because of the popularity of a common pun spoken on this day. Since the phrase “May the Force be with you” is a famous quote often spoken in the Star Wars films, fans commonly say “May the fourth be with you” on this day.” Given the rejuvenation of the franchise, in the form of Star Wars VII – The Force Awakens and with the release of Star Wars VIII, The Last Jedi, scheduled for December 2017; all Star Wars fans and have reason to celebrate this May 4th in a manner we have not seen for some time.

The most recent entry into the Star Wars oeuvre was a prequel entitled Rogue One. It was a rollicking fun ride with hints of many of the characters that appeared in the first Star Wars movie A New Hope way back in 1977. It also had one of the most ingenious technical innovations, in a series filled with technical innovations, that of bringing Peter Cushing to life as Governor Tarkin. It will be interesting to see if Carrie Fisher receives the same treatment or if there was enough footage filmed before she moved permanently to the Star Wars universe last December.

In honor of May 4th, Star Wars and Carrie Fisher, today I want to consider the use of video to assist ongoing communications in a best practices compliance program. It has certainly been proven that social video can boost your company’s brand awareness and its sales. Why not consider using video to boost your compliance functions brand awareness and help spread the message of your corporate values and ethos. In an article in Inc., entitled “Get Rolling”, it reported that Facebook now generates an “average of eight billion video views per day and YouTube reaches more 18- to 49-year olds than any cable network in the U.S.” Why not take advantage of this natural tendency to produce compliance focused content that would engage your compliance customer base – your employees.

The article provides three short guidelines to consider which are equally valid for considering communications from the compliance function. The first is to have a plan around what you want to do. This includes not only your script but also your budget. It does not have to a large high dollar production. You can shoot a video in your office, literally using your iPhone if that are all the resources you can muster. I recently attended the tech conference Collision 2017 and in the press area, there was a set up for interviews using iPhones. At the 2016 SCCE Compliance and Ethics Institute, Kortney Nordrum recorded Roy Snell and myself for a live session of Unfair and Unbalanced using her iPhone.

Another resource is your corporate media function. A great example was a CenterPoint Energy video put out in 2015 after the Volkswagen (VW) emissions-testing scandal become public. The video featured Scott Prochazka, CenterPoint Energy President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). He used the VW scandal to proactively address culture and values at the company and used the entire scenario as an opportunity to promote integrity in the workplace. But more than simply a one-time video, the company followed up with a with an additional resource, entitled “Manager’s Toolkit – “What does Integrity mean to you?””, which managers used to facilitate discussions and ongoing communications with employees around the company’s ethics and compliance programs. Finally, as noted by Amy Lilly, Director, Corporate Ethics and Compliance at CenterPoint Energy, the cost for the video was quite reasonable as it was produced internally.

This CenterPoint Energy example brings up another key point which is timing. Just as many Chief Compliance Officers (CCOs) used the New York Times (NYT) breaking story on Wal-Mart’s alleged Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations in Mexico back in 2012 as an opportunity to brief senior management on what can happen when your company appears on the front page of a Sunday NYT edition for FCPA violations; CenterPoint Energy used the VW emissions-testing scandal as an opportunity to not only reaffirm its own corporate values but also engage in ongoing communications.

Another key element is also built around time and it is that “short videos are good videos”. You can have a series of short videos communicating different aspects of your compliance program. It can range from short messages from your CEO, to videos of your CCO to videos of employees. Employees will always tune in when senior management speaks to them internally through a video. They want to hear from the President and a message of commitment to the culture values of doing business ethically and in compliance is always a message that will resonate with employees.

Also consider having employees in short discussions on how they may have overcome compliance challenges. Celebrate these events but do not forget their power to educate and inspire other employees. Such techniques can give your employees a peek behind the curtain, not to show the wizard has no clothes but because it makes your internal compliance function seem more authentic.

What are some of the venues you can utilize for these videos? Of course internal channels are appropriate to use. If you have an internal Twitter like function, you can post short videos that can be posted and reposted multiple times per day. If you have a tech savvy, media-friendly company you might consider an Instagram type approach, combining videos and pictures. Finally, do not forget the power of YouTube. It is one of the largest search engines behind Google and the prime location for video watching by the vast majority of folks these days.

Finally, never forget that one of the key factors listed in the Morgan Stanley Declination to Prosecute was 35 compliance reminders provided to their recalcitrant FCPA violating Managing Director Garth Peterson over seven years. These types of videos can certainly be used in a variety of ways, including as a legal defense to any FCPA investigation.

 

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, 2017

Over the weekend, my wife and I caught the current Bon Jovi This House is Not For Sale Tour. My rock and roll foundation was laid in the 60s/70s so the group is not all that relevant for me. However, they are substantially relevant for my wife so she rocked out the three-hour show as did about 98% of the sold out house. Even if they are not in my top ten bands, I know a great show when I see one and these guys put on a heck of a rock and roll show.

One thing that Jon Bon Jovi said during the show struck me as a great insight for the Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) or compliance practitioner. He was explaining the inspiration which came to him for the name of the latest Bon Jovi album which was the title of this year’s tour. He also said that while the band was cutting the album, he put out the name of the album along with some concept art to the band’s fan base. He expected some response but he was overwhelmed by the use of album’s theme, what it meant to so many others and how the band’s fans collective vision influenced his thinking while writing songs for the album and then recording them. I found it to be a great insight around the two-way use of social media.

For every CCO or compliance practitioner, you have multiple audiences. First and foremost is your employee base but there can be third parties, shareholder or other stakeholders. One of the key insights of a number of business leaders I have studied for my multiple books on leadership and my podcast, 12 O’Clock High, a podcast leadership, is the art of listening. I thought about Bon Jovi’s comments when I read  an article in 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, as it allows you to both listen and communicate. 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.

To further facilitate your experience, I would suggest you fire up Bon Jovi’s latest album, This House is Not For Sale.

 

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, 2017

Much Ado About NothingHow does Shakespeare portend social media in the 21st century? I would submit that one only need look at Much Ado About Nothing to see how it should all play out. As with all Shakespeare’s plays there is quite a bit going on but the play centers around the action and dialogue of Benedick and Beatrice who go after each other in a manner which shames modern NBA trash-talkers. Apparently everyone else in the play understands the two are meant for each other so they engage in a very social media style of communication to put the two together. Of course, as this is a comedy, everyone ends up married so Beatrice and Benedick, prompted by their friends’ interference, finally, and publicly, confess their love for each other.

Yesterday I wrote about ways to think through using social media in your Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) anti-corruption compliance program. Today I want to explore how one company and one Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) actively uses social media to make more effective the company’s compliance regime. The company is the venerable Dun & Bradstreet (D&B) and its CCO, Louis Sapirman, whom I visited with about his company’s integration of social media into compliance. Read More