Standards and Controls and Culture

Adam Balfour

by Adam Balfour

One of the things I often notice when I visit Japan is that most people will wait patiently at cross walks even if there is no traffic coming. While there are similar controls and standards to other places (traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and penalties for jaywalking, etc.), a key difference is culture and how people – both individually and collectively – interact with those standards and controls.

Standards and controls are (of course) important to compliance, but culture is what will “make or break” standards and controls and determine whether or not (and how) they will work in practice. You can develop as many well intentioned and well thought standards and controls as you want, but they not be effective in practice if the culture of an organization is not properly considered when building and designing any standards and controls. As important as standards and controls are, the U.S. Department of Justice’s Lisa Monaco summed it up well in September 2022 when she said “As everyone here knows, it all comes back to corporate culture.”

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