No Compliance Monkey Business: Compliance Lessons from Jane Goodall

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Post By: Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC, President, Management Performance Associates

Jane Goodall is a British primatologist and anthropologist who is world renowned for her study of chimpanzees, and her commitment to conservation and animal welfare.

And, my kids are obsessed with her. They have picture books about her, t-shirts and jigsaw puzzles with her face on them. I’ve learned a lot about Jane Goodall this past year. It is because of my daughters’ heroine that I can share with you this quote from their dear Jane:

“Every individual matters. Every individual has a role to play. Every individual makes a difference.”

This insight is from Goodall’s book: With Love: Ten Heartwarming Stories of Chimpanzees in the Wild. It also appears on the website for Roots and Shoots, Goodall’s not-for-profit designed to help youth make a difference in their communities. So, when Goodall says “every individual has a role to play”, she is talking about chimpanzees – but she’s also talking about people (very much so).

After many months working at home in some degree of isolation due to the pandemic, this quote struck a chord with me. Disconnected from the usual flow of teamwork, meetings and conferences, the daily routine at home started with me, my to-do list, and the same question: What will I accomplish at home today?

Do you see how that question is all about me?

What so many of us missed the most during the lock-down days were the opportunities to brainstorm, to pop in someone else’s office and get two-minute feedback (whereas I might not reach out to set up a Zoom call for the same feedback unless it’s worth an hour of someone’s time).

And while the stay-at-home days have largely subsided now, I don’t want to leave this lesson behind.

The pandemic is still here. In healthcare, there are still far more tasks to do in a day than there are people to do them. Which means so many of us race from task to task, trying to cross as many things off our list as we can. Even when we are working tirelessly at a really important job, it’s easy to make it about ourselves and what’s on our own plates. But what about the other individuals in your organization?

Whose input might make your ideas better?

Who can provide you with real-world examples to make that training program you are drafting more relatable?

Who is in a good position to identify new risks – ones that haven’t crossed your mind?

Who might see compliance as an opportunity – and be an asset to the compliance effort?

Every individual has a role to play. The never-ending compliance to-do list is essential – but so is looking up from the list from time to time to see how other individuals in your organization can make a difference.