Nearly every start-up in Silicon Valley wants to be known as a “Disruptor.”  Disruptors challenge the status quo, revolutionizing markets and taking down once monolithic companies that have dominated the market for years.  Think Uber to the taxi companies, or Amazon to bookstores. 

Disruption doesn’t just occur outside companies, it can occur inside them as well.  When disruption hits, the “way we’ve always done things” can be shaken.  Times like these may seem chaotic, but they can also be taken advantage of by savvy compliance officers to bring in a new order.  What are some common disruptors?

1.      New management

When a new CEO come in, or a new key manager is appointed, it’s time to move the goal posts.  The new CEO will come in without knowledge of “how things are done here.”  He or she may even have a mandate to change how things are done.  Present your vision of how you think the compliance department or program should be run, not the way it’s always been run. 

2.      Company restructuring

Companies frequently realize that their business structure worked in the past, but is no longer optimized to their changing market or product profile.  Silos are re-arranged to better serve the growth markets and whittle down or close sections that are no longer profitable.  When this happens, pro-actively work with management to realign the compliance department or program to right-size with the new structure.  Ensure that the program develops and aligns with the new structure so that you are in the best position to influence the key leaders in the business.

3.      Company-wide crisis

A company facing a regulatory investigation, big lawsuit, or take-over battle is frequently plunged into chaos.  Management may be pre-occupied with the immediate crisis, but if you can position yourself as a calm in the storm, you’ll be in a great position to garner influence and make yourself a critical part of the team.  In the midst of a crisis, you may receive greater resources to help resolve the challenge.  Likewise, if you’ve been a critical part of the solution, the good will you’ve garnered may allow you to position yourself into a more high-profile position with more influence.

Disruption used to be feared, but now is embraced as the trigger for innovation and reincarnation. If you’re clever – it can also “disrupt” (for the better) your position in the company. 

This article was originally printed in the September 2018 edition of Compliance and Ethics Professional Magazine, a copy of which can be found HERE.