The First Formula One race of the 2017 season redeemed the promise that the three top teams came closer. At the end Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel was the first to see the chequred flag. Besides an exciting race, interesting details could be analyzed.
The same as in the year before, the Mercedes F1 W08 EQ Power+ is the car with the most progressive aerodynamics. Thanks to this, in “clean air”, meaning driving alone at the top, this gives an additional advantage, as the car goes faster and easier to handle. On the other hand, race leader Luis Hamilton came in for his first pit-stop and back on the track, he found himself directly behind Max Verstappen’s Red Bull. On the paper the Mercedes was the stronger car, but nevertheless Hamilton was not able to overtake the Dutchman on the track. One reason for this, the air turbulences from the first car impaired the aerodynamics of the following one. A car with more complex aerodynamics loses accordingly more speed than a car with a less detailed combination of wings.
We can use this picture also for the management of an Ethics & Compliance system. As all company departments, it has to fit perfectly to the overall company business. This may tempt to specialize all guidelines, processes and tools to the actual organizational setup. Thanks to this, everything works as smooth as possible. On the other hand, a system with such a perfect fit may cause problems if the situation changes. New competitors and / or markets may mean that yesterday’s processes are today too bureaucratic or lacking of controls.
To avoid surprises, the Ethics & Compliance Officer should not only conduct a regular risk assessment, but ensure also to have a seat on the table, when the company discusses its strategy. This to understand and anticipate the things to come, but also to counsel management and make them aware of additional Compliance risks and costs. Furthermore, a company cannot only rely on its processes, but the Compliance department has to foster the organizational values (engine) and be gentle to its resources (tires), especially the members of its department.
In Formula One the relation is that if the aerodynamic package is not working perfectly, the engine does not receive a sufficient level of air and the tires lose grip. Translated to Compliance: If the processes are non-adequate, employees get demotivated and Compliance employees lose their standing.