Written by Kevin Heisey
on December 01, 2021

Major regulatory changes, which attract the attention of executive leadership, often come with a natural sense of compliance urgency. Yet faster doesn’t always mean better, as there are trade-offs between achieving compliance efficiency and effectiveness. Management guru Peter Drucker famously said, “Efficiency is doing things right; effectiveness is doing the right things.”

While your teams can be great at doing things, it is more important that they are first focused on doing the correct things, especially in a regulatory environment. Executive leadership plays a key role in successfully navigating the efficiency-effectiveness trade-off by focusing on the mission, understanding the nature and timing of the regulatory change and setting expectations accordingly.

Prioritize the Mission

If your organization has a sensitive mission like security, safety or protecting resources, effectiveness takes priority over efficiency. If new regulations are imposed to protect sensitive or confidential data, you want to prioritize effectively protecting the data over quick compliance. If your immediate reaction is that being out of compliance with a new regulation is bad and it compels a rush to compliance, you run the risk of checking the compliance box on paper while implementing sub-optimal changes that can leave your organization vulnerable.

The Timing of Change

Before taking action to comply with regulatory change, understand the timeline that comes with the new regulations. It is often possible to comply with new regulations by implementing changes incrementally rather than focusing on being 100% compliant as quickly as possible. Know the calendar and timeline of new regulations and look for opportunities to deploy what is needed today, what you need tomorrow and what you need next month. Establishing a work timeline that aligns with the regulatory calendar provides a framework that allows for implementing more robust changes that comply with the letter of the law, but more importantly, fulfill its purpose.

Executive leadership establishes the focus on mission, priorities and pace of regulatory compliance. There are obviously potential negative consequences with being out of compliance and peace of mind that comes with achieving compliance and moving on. It is easy for leadership to prioritize urgency or even unintentionally signal a sense of urgency at the expense on the nature and timing of the regulatory change that can result in ineffective compliance. Make an intentional, visible effort to prioritize the purpose of the new regulations, what they mean to your mission and the calendar for compliance. Doing so creates an environment that allows teams to focus on implementations that optimally comply with the substance of regulatory changes and more thoroughly protect your mission.