Not many compliance practitioners will think of Silly Putty as an aid to their compliance programs. This is particular in companies where the hierarchy is very military in discipline. Orders were pronounced from on high and they were expected to be followed. Military models tend to work in the military but they often do not work so well in the business world. In these types of organizations, creative thinking is usually not rewarded or even appreciated. I have certainly worked for such organizations. I was reminded of this example when reading this week’s Corner Office in the Sunday New York Times (NYT) Business section, entitled “Tell Me Your Idea (and Don’t Mind the Silly Putty)”, in which reporter Adam Bryant wrote about an interview with Laurel J. Richie, the President of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).
Prior to her assuming the Presidency of the WNBA, Richie was a Vice President of Ogilvy & Mather, an international advertising, marketing and public relations agency. After returning to work from a vacation, she found that her entire team had gone to Human Resources (HR) and said “We can’t do it anymore. It’s a great account, but we don’t like working for Laurel because working for her feels like it’s all about her and not about us. So we want to work on another piece of business.” In the more military based organizations where I work, the employer would have simply fired all the employees who dared to go to HR. However, such was not the case at Ogilvy & Mather where Richie used this opportunity to learn a insightful lesson, which she said was “I learned very profoundly in that moment that if there is not shared ownership of the work, both our successes and our failures, people aren’t going to have a satisfying experience.”
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