Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Don’t tick that box for them!

We all know and understand the risks of a tick-box mentality which means people or organisations take the minimal and potentially superficial approach to addressing issues.

Whether it’s to pass an audit, regulatory compliance or assure the supplier, boss or customer that everything is OK, simply doing the minimum to ensure you are legal, decent and honest is seldom enough to protect you if it all goes wrong.

I am reading a book “The Infiltrator” (by Robert Mazure) and it’s revelatory as a true story of the biggest drug cartel in history and the systemic failures of people, process and technology to stop money laundering.

It’s always a challenge in any business to engage staff to be interested, to be passionate, to be informed and to take ownership. Without strong leadership and shared responsibility many organisations end-up with a “do the minimum” approach which although ostensibly compliant is seldom robust.

This is foolish but its becomes insidious if someone is asking YOU to tick the box for them.

“Can you approve this?” is something of which to be wary.

“We just need YOU to satisfy our [Auditor, Regulatory, Customer, Client, Board]”  is something to be cautious of agreeing to because you’ll get little thanks if everything is OK and a whole lot of woe otherwise.

There is a lot of criticism for managers or civil servants who attempt to outsource risk or responsibility by standing behind consultants’ reports and professional indemnities. The bigger fools are surely those that sell their brand or reputation cheaply without being certain what they are underwriting.

A true partnership is not one where Customer-A outsources risk and responsibility to Supplier-B, but one where both organisations work together to fully understand and satisfy all the requirements.

This is the difference between outcome (a robust solution) and output (a completed form). The outcome should be a solution this is suitable, feasible and acceptable and this should precede the output, which is a ticked box.

What do you think?


Tim Rogers is an experienced Management Consultant, Project and Change Leader. He is also Commonwealth Triathlete and World Championships Rower and a Tutor/Mentor on the Chartered Management Institute.

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