The CCO as a Futurist – JD Supra (press release)

Posted: June 29, 2017 at 10:40 am

Every Chief Compliance Officer (CCO) and compliance practitioner who thinks about their compliance program one, three or five years down the road is a budding futurist. The Compliance Week 2017 Annual Conference opened this year with a Futurist, Dr. Brian David Johnson, who talked to the assembled group about where the compliance profession might be heading down the road. I thought about Dr. Johnsons talk when I read an article in the most recent issue of the MIT Sloan Management Review by Amy Webb, entitled The Flare and Focus of Successful Futurists. One of the things that struck me was her opening line which reads, Futurists are skilled at listening to and interpreting signals, which are harbingers of whats to come. They look for early patterns pre-trends, if you will as the scattered points on the fringe converge and begin moving toward the mainstream.

While futures forecaster may sound exotic, Webb cited to one theoretical physicist for about the most down to earth explanation I have read. She quoted Joseph Voros who related that forecasting informs strategy making by enhancing the context within which strategy is developed, planned, and executed. That is about as straight-forward a description of a CCO as one can find.

Webb believes the greatest problem for futures forecasting is the variance of logic based forecasting and creative based forecasting. She calls this the duality dilemma as the creative people felt as though their contributions were being discounted, while the logical thinkers whose natural talents lie in managing processes, projecting budgets, or mitigating risk felt undervalued because they werent coming up with bold new ideas. Your team undoubtedly had a difficult time staying on track, or worse, you might have spent hours meeting about how to have your next meeting. She goes on to say that one can harness both strengths in equal measure by alternately broadening (flaring) and narrowing (focusing) its thinking.

To overcome this duality and help move forecasting forward, Webb has developed a six-step approach for forecasting methodology. I found it useful for any CCO or compliance practitioner to use when forecasting where your compliance program will be one, three or five years out.

What I found most interesting about Webbs process is that it allows you to consider compliance innovations looking at outliers and seeing where technologies and services might take you. Obviously, the use of data beyond simply numbers of training sessions or calls to the hotline can inform a wide variety of business processes. This will further allow the operationalization of compliance. Webb ended by noting you can create the future in the present tense.

And what of the Futurist, Dr. Johnson at Compliance Week 2017? He related the importance of compliance would grow, together with the increasing importance around ethics and corporate governance. He believes that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will increase the speed at which business decisions could be made will make a robust compliance program, operationalized into the fabric of an organization more critical. AI will first allow more and quicker business decisions. It will be the compliance program which is most closely integrated into the DNA of an organization so it can respond to ever-shifting market conditions. Not simply in sales but moving seamlessly between third party sales representatives and those from the Supply Chain. A robust compliance program does not slow down a business but, properly functioning, allows it to move more quickly and more nimbly.

Dr. Johnson sees the necessity for compliance to be integrated into an organization. The Department of Justice (DOJ) says compliance should be operationalized into a company. It seems that the legal side of things is pointing the direction in which you should be moving your compliance regime. I think both Webb and Dr. Johnson would agree.

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The CCO as a Futurist - JD Supra (press release)

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