New Book Alert! Adam Balfour on Compliance for Humans

Adam Balfour is a rising star in the compliance and ethics profession. His new book, Ethics & Compliance for Humans was just published, and it is a great read. I recently saw Adam at the SCCE conference in Chicago and it was so great to catch up. Here’s the latest on his book with some great advice for making your compliance program the best it can be.

Kristy: Congratulations on the book! First of all, I love that you’re wearing your trademark red Converse sneakers on the cover and here at the SCCE event. Classic. They set the tone for the whole book. You’re not a nameless compliance officer in a suit – you’re a guy wearing comfortable and cool sneakers who can be a friend to the business.

Tell us, what’s the premise of the book and how can it help readers?

Adam: One of the key things I have learned over the years is that an ethics and compliance program is not about complying with the law – it is about getting your organization’s employees (and the other human beings who act on behalf of the organization) to comply with the law.  People need to be at the heart of our ethics and compliance programs because they are the ones whose thinking and behavior is what will determine whether or not an organization acts ethically and compliantly.

A key premise of the book is that we have to see ethics and compliance through a people-focused lens (rather than the other way round) if we want our ethics and compliance programs to be effective and work in practice. 

Kristy: Tell us a bit about your career path. How did you end up here?

Adam: I grew up in the United Kingdom and graduated from law school in Dundee, Scotland.  I originally came to the United States for one year for my graduate degree and one year turned in to another and another (that was nearly twenty years ago). 

Since then, I have been fortunate to work for law firms and have had a variety of in-house roles at Bridgestone in Nashville, Tennessee.  I never imagined working in ethics and compliance, but now cannot imagine working in another area (at least not for the next few years).   

Kristy: How is this book different from other Ethics and Compliance books available? 

Adam: I am so pleased to see that the number of Ethics and Compliance books continue to grow and I have learned so much from the different books in our professional area (including, of course, How to Be a Wildly Effective Compliance Officer).  I hope my book compliments the other books in this area by helping to highlight the humans that our programs are meant to engage and help. 

Kristy: Awww, thanks for the shout out.

The book is includes a lot of specific, actionable advice, but it isn’t an omnibus manual for how to create a compliance program. How did you choose which topics to cover?

Adam: It really helped once I had a clear vision of what the purpose of the book was.  I completely deleted a much earlier version of the book because the vision and purpose were not showing up in what I was writing, and I felt it was best to start over rather than try to work with a draft that I felt was not reflecting the intended vision. 

It took a long time for the vision and purpose to settle and become clear in my head, but once I had that clarity, I felt that the writing process and choosing of topics was much easier.  It also really helped to have a wonderful publishing team (Sarah Hadden and the CCI Press team) who completely embraced the premise of the book and helped guide the process to focus on the most relevant topics.    

Kristy: What’s a tip from the book you’d like to share? 

Adam: I see leaders, managers and supervisors as being key to bringing a program to life and helping to make it relevant and resonate for employees in different parts of an organization.  I have a whole chapter (chapter 11) that is written for leaders and managers outside of ethics and compliance to help demystify what it is that they can do (without requiring an unreasonable demand of their time) and to convey the impact that they can have.

Without the genuine and vocal commitment and engagement of leaders and managers, a program will always struggle. 

Kristy: A number of your LinkedIn posts announcing the launch of your book refer to this as your “first” book.  Are you planning to write more books? 

Adam: I genuinely enjoy writing and felt so engaged writing a book, so it is definitely something I would like to do again in the future. Two of my (four) kids and I wrote a short children’s book called “The Coffee Monster” that I would love to publish, but I would also like to explore a book that tells the human stories of whistleblowers or a book that uses some futurist thinking and concepts to help steer the future of ethics and compliance. 

Writing a book is a big commitment, so I probably won’t even begin to think about another book for a while – although it is something that I hope to pursue again in the not too distant future.   

Kristy: Love that. And yes, writing a book is an enormous commitment! There’s a reason I took the past two years off from that!

Everyone is dying to know – where can the book be purchased? 

Adam: Both the red Converse and the book (in both paperback and Kindle formats) are available for sale on Amazon.  The book (but not the Converse) are also available on some other online bookstores too. 

Kristy: Thank you so much Adam, and congratulations again!

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Kristy Grant-Hart

Kristy Grant-Hart

Kristy Grant-Hart is the founder and CEO of Spark Compliance.
She's a renowned expert at transforming compliance departments into in-demand business assets.