Blog post

Compliance Has no Minimum Viable Product

By Bart Willemsen | November 19, 2021 | 0 Comments

Imagine you’re driving a car on the highway. There’s a sign next to the road indicating that, sure, you can drive there, but you cannot exceed 100 kph. Response? Put the cruise control at 99 kph and lean back.

But hang on; there’s other than mere compliance risk involved. Winding turns, or potential traffic jams in front of you. Response? Keep the hands on the steering wheel, and look ahead and around.

Wait a minute… The environment… You’re running on fossil fuels while you’re saving money to soon replace the vehicle by one with a zero eco-impact footprint. However, you also know your car is more economical and less polluting when it does 90 kph. Response? Lower the cruise control to 90, park at reasonable distance behind a truck, keep your lane and leave the house 10 mins earlier maybe to still be on time. Now you’re minimizing risk and environmental impact better.

In the first case, your only driver is likely ‘do whatever, as long as you’re not breaking any rules’. In the second, you’re minding additional risk beyond simple regulatory requirements. In the third, you’re actually proactively looking to find some additional value in excess of the first two responses. Could you go even further?

Yes. You can.

In that fourth case, at least in many situations, you consider opportunities where you’re determining no travel would be necessary at all. Video-conferencing for the specific appointment might reach multiple stakeholders at the same time over multiple geographies and time zones. Saving time, broadening your audience, additionally delivering value at scale and doing what you believe is the right thing. Does it feel nice to be in person? Yes, but some personal sacrifice may be reasonable in light of the greater good.

‘Compliance’ looks mostly at hard rules, like speed limits. Asking for a minimum viable product (MVP) reduces the discussion into doing things differently because: others are telling you to do so, whether you agree with it or not (in casu, lawmakers) (i) and to avoid a speed ticket (sanctions) (ii). These are very negative drivers, and an incomplete discussion, even if you include more risk mitigating aspects as an extra step.

More sustainable and positive drivers for change lie in value creation (i) and doing what you believe is the right thing (ii). Especially if that question rises above the rather selfish ‘what is right for only myself?’, but takes into account the broader ecosystem you’re a part of. THAT is where you can find a differentiating position, one for good.


Don’t look for a minimum viable product in compliance if you can find value creating opportunities in doing the right thing. Consider not only responding to the voice of society (VoS), but be part of it. In words and in actions. Without such conviction, change is temporary, incomplete, or for worse, at best.

(And if you ever feel the need to race anyway, find a racetrack, or realize that e-Sports doesn’t use fossil fuel and makes more money than Formula 1 these days).

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