By Frank Ruelas
Superbowl LI was quite a game. Whether some people put it in their top 3, top 5, or top 10 list of all Superbowl games, I believe few people would disagree (putting aside the sting of a loss by those who were rooting for the team that lost) that it certainly can be considered in the category of “one of the best Superbowl games ever”.
There were many scenarios that played out during the game that caught my eye. The contrast of the coaching staffs on the sidelines was one such example. Why this caught my eye was because I could see a connection with the world of compliance, particularly as it relates to the compliance professional.
One of the teams was coached by arguably one of the best NFL coaches. Whether you agree or not is a personal choice. However, when you hear people who are also well known for being top tier NFL level coaches in their own right share their opinions and back them up with statistics and facts, it is hard not to at least buy into the idea that Coach Bill Belichick can be described if not in the same sentence certainly in the same paragraph with some of the best coaches in professional football with the likes of Vince Lombardi, Bill Walsh, George Halas, Don Shula, and others
Coach Belichick is known for his game day adjustments that enable his team to adapt to the opposition. Some of these adjustments have even been brought into question and he and his team have been held accountable. (Nice job, NFL.) During Sunday’s game, when his team was getting scored on, seemingly at will, it appeared that the team was beginning to lose focus. What was coach doing? Was he getting caught up in the emotion? Was he trying to light a fire under his team in a demonstrative manner? Nope. Rather, while many teams have computers that show game video, surfaces where players and coaches can do on demand review of plays, there was Coach Belichick intently watching the game with what looked like an old school No. 2 yellow pencil making notes on several sheets of paper that were stapled together. On the team bench, quarterback Tom Brady could be seen looking at black and white printouts of plays while Jerry Schuplinski, assistant quarterbacks coach, was noting things on the printout while Tom Brady (a veteran of over 15 years as an NFL starting quarterback) looked on.
Pencils, stapled papers, black and white printouts…old technology for sure. But it reminded me of a tendency I see among compliance professionals. It seems that as vendors continue to pour into the market more “solutions” to the problems that compliance professionals deal with, there are compliance professionals that I have networked with that seem to think if they don’t have the latest app (short for mobile application) or the newest program to accomplish something…somehow they feel their effectiveness is sub-optimized. The problem with this is that an app or a program can’t make up for experience. Sure it may make things easier if the person using them knows how to use the application or program (a whole different challenge in and of itself) but even then there is no such guarantee.
It made me ask myself a few questions in my role as a compliance professional. Am I using those tried and true tools that I have at my disposal adequately and efficiently? Do I need to be an early adopter of new ideas, processes, and technology when I already have tools that can get the job done? These are questions that each of us can answer on our own.
My takeaway was simple as I thought about this after watching the touchdown in overtime which ended the game. Many of the challenges that we face as compliance professionals are the same despite whatever industry our organizations do business. We have the professional latitude to decide how we can best accomplish those tasks on our “to do” list with whatever knowledge and tools we have at our disposal. We may never be known as one of “the best” compliance professionals in history, but we certainly owe it to our organizations to give our best effort. So to that I say, don’t let technology drive what you do but rather let what you do drive what technology you use.
Sometimes just a pencil and a sheet of paper are all you need to accomplish great things.
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