What's Your Theme For The Year?

Happy New Year!  Welcome to 2017.  When considering the new year, most people think about what they want to accomplish in the next 12 months, but how do you choose what to focus on?
When you’re a compliance professional there are always competing priorities.  Do you focus on getting out the new Gifts and Hospitality policy or should you be working on training and outreach?  Is it time to revamp your due diligence process, focus on obtaining ISO 37001 Anti-Bribery Management Systems certification or on the new European General Data Protection Regulation’s effect on your business?
In order to sort out competing priorities, I always choose a theme for the year.  One year my theme was collaboration.  Throughout that year I prioritized projects that allowed me to build more effective relationships with Internal Audit, Legal, Responsible Business and Human Resources.  Another year, when I hired several new team members, my theme was leadership.  I prioritized mentoring, training, planning and teaching that year.  I focused on leading both my team and the compliance initiatives throughout the business.
So what’s your theme this year?  Is this year going to be about communication and training?  Maybe this year’s theme is relationships, so you’ll prioritize getting invited to high-level strategic meetings, spending time at the water-cooler and going to happy hour with folks at your business after work. 
The best themes tend to have three characteristics:

  • The theme should not be overly limited. 
    Themes like communication, relationships, third-party risk, and policy management are useful because they relate to many different activities, not one goal.  You may be re-writing your Code of Conduct this year, but Code of Conduct isn’t really a theme – Policies would be a better choice.
  • The theme should be specific.
    You don’t want “good compliance” or “program effectiveness” to be the theme, because those aren’t specific enough.  You want to choose a theme around which you can make goals.  
  • The theme should inspire you.
    You should be excited about your theme for the year.  You’re much more likely to work hard and to accomplish the goals associated with your theme if you’re excited about it.

As for me? My theme for the year is opportunity. May 2017 bring many opportunities to all of us in the compliance community.