A good friend that I run with on a regular basis gave me a sticker the other day that said “Comfort is a slow death – Do hard stuff” (except he used a more adult word than “stuff”). As I was putting that sticker on a water bottle it struck me that this philosophy is applicable to compliance as well as to life in general. (Yep, I can relate just about anything back to compliance!) Once a compliance program has been developed, there is a tendency to sit back and be comfortable with having policies and procedures in place. The hard work of compliance comes once the program has been built. Hard doesn’t necessarily mean physically difficult, but rather, when it comes to compliance, hard may mean addressing potential risk areas that have been pushed aside for years, or maybe implementing a true auditing and monitoring program. An effective compliance program doesn’t always follow an easy road; sometimes there at potholes and rocks that make the road much more difficult.
In running, if you go the same distance every day, and cover the same terrain your body adapts and the incremental benefit of each run is greatly reduced. Contrast that with a regimen where the length of each run, and the terrain (flat, hilly, trails, paved surface) varies on a regular basis, which leads to the body getting stronger as a result of the increased stress on the muscles, tendons, etc.
This principle also applies to the compliance program; if the auditing program looks at the same thing every time, or staff watch the same on-line training every year, the incremental benefit of those efforts is reduced to a point where there really is very little benefit at all. However, a program that does the hard work of preparing new training material each year, or revising the auditing program to address new and emerging risks, is analogous to a body running over new terrain, it gets stronger and more effective. So the moral of the story is to continually challenge your compliance program to be better and do hard stuff! And, if you are so inclined, go out for a run!