The blind men and the (compliance) elephant

The blind men and the (compliance) elephant

Donna Boehme – Compliance & Ethics Professional – May 2014


Quick, define “compliance.” As in life, everything is relative. Compliance has evolved in silos of professional expertise in response to the needs of the relevant industry. In the healthcare arena, HIPAA has given birth to HIPAA compliance experts, and in finance, SEC, CFTC, or other relevant financial regulations drive the job descriptions. If you work at a manufacturing firm, your world may be driven by environmental or safety compliance.

All this reminds me of the classic Indian parable of the three blind men and the elephant. Each of the blind men touched a different part of the great beast— one the trunk, one a leg, and the last one the tail. Each had a different, subjective view of the elephant based on the part he touched, but none had true knowledge of the entire animal.

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