- Leandro Herrero - https://leandroherrero.com -

Culture is what happens when compliance leaves the room

The unwritten rules of the organization tell you more about its culture than all powerpoionts of its leadership programmes. The unwritten rules are direct representations of styles, what is permissible or not, the differences between visible vocal and invisible action.

In Viral Safety™, for example,  we focus on those unwritten rules. The often ‘getting away with murder’ when the compliance system is not watching. A system that depends on compliance, whether safety in Oil and Gas, or a trader’s desk in a financial institution has always embedded the possibility of non compliance when people can hide or bypass the norms.

Compliance systems are needed, but have little power to shape a culture in a sustainable way. A culture effort needs to supplement compliance with voluntarism. In the absence of a magic pill or a substance put in the power supply of the company, we need to engineer the spread of positive behaviours. And the only way to do that seriously is peer-to-peer engagement and bottom-up change.

People do what they do for three reasons:

  1. They are told to
  2. They want to
  3. Others do

Compliance works on (1) but does not touch (2). Viral Change™ and Viral Safety™ engineers (3) by finding people who start! Eventually (2) may come in and make (1) a bit redundant.

As a test, imagine a culture with no (need for) compliance system. What it would look like?  That is your model.