Carrie Zombies: Compliance Lessons from the Bike Rodeo


By Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC
President, MPA

Last week, my kids’ elementary school held a bike rodeo: a week-long event where every child rode a bike (or learned how to ride a bike) during P.E. It’s part of the school’s enrichment program, designed to offer kids more diverse learning experiences (and more fun). In September, the enrichment was an artist-in-residence: a local artist who helped the students make a large mural that will be permanently installed on the school’s walls.

In preparation for the bike rodeo, we dug out my first grader’s old kitty helmet. The helmet was missing an ear (of great concern to the first grader) and was cracked (of great concern to her parents).

So, Carrie got a new helmet. She chose a hot pink one that comes with stickers so she can create a custom helmet that suits her fancy. Her final design has “CARRIE ZOMBIES” spelled out with alphabet stickers, along with some unicorn and other creature stickers to give it that extra oomph.

She was VERY excited to take the new, one-of-a-kind helmet to school, ride her bike on the blacktop, ditch the training wheels, and even see the school principal hop on a bicycle. Great week, happy kid.

Start with a plain helmet

The standardized helmets mass-marketed to children didn’t feel quite right to Carrie. Giving her a simple, plain, idea of a helmet and an opportunity to get creative DID feel right.  She appreciates that helmet so much more, because she made it her own. I think she might even pedal that bike a little faster.

Who here has inherited a compliance role and a dusty binder of compliance policies – written by someone else? Do the policies reflect the uniqueness of your organization? Does that binder get you excited to lead a compliance program? Do you enjoy figuring out what someone else did and following it to the letter? Or do you have unique compliance ideas to bring to the table? Could  managers and staff feel the same way?

Perhaps instead of passing down an old program – or asking departments to carry out a plan designed by another – we should just hand out the plain helmets. Let’s give compliance leaders the opportunity to contribute to the program development. Give each of them a plain pink helmet and allow them to apply their own “stickers.” I never would have come up with “CARRIE ZOMBIES,” and your staff may surprise you with their ideas. Their finished “helmets” will probably lead to a much more effective compliance program.

Don’t forget the enrichment

When the school brings in an artist-in-residence or a bike rodeo, it’s all the kids talk about at dinner. It gets them out the door with a hop, skip, and a jump. I expect them to go to school just like I’m expected to go to work. But we enjoy both tasks better when some enrichment is planned. Reach out to your management team and staff – you never know what kind of enrichment “stickers” they have in mind until you ask.

Whatever you plan, make it your own.