Business Strategy Simulation: Building a Culture of Compliance

Case Study by Ken Thompson



Congratulations to Lexis Nexis, who won the 2018 Compliance and Ethics Excellence Award for Innovation at the Skillsoft Conference in LAS VEGAS for this project.


When your mission is to advance the Rule of Law, compliance is a significant priority

At LexisNexis, it is imperative that leaders understand how to do business the right way.  In 2017, the company’s General Counsel, Ian McDougall and Jo Weller, Chief Compliance and Regulatory officer launched a Culture of Compliance initiative.  The initiative includes resources ranging from humorous cartoon characters facing compliance conundrums to deploying LexTalk, an easy to access online repository of compliance policies.  LNLP Learning & Talent Development partnered closely with the Global Legal group to build a one day Legal and Compliance Acumen course with the following learning objectives:

  • Understand and commit to creating a Culture of Compliance
  • Identify legal & compliance risks & actions to mitigate
  • Determine ways to operationalize Compliance
  • Practice doing business the right way

The LexisNexis L&D team,had to overcome the challenge of compliance training being perceived as boring, mandatory and redundant.  They wanted to develop something very different and they did!  The course features a number of dynamic workshop-styled exercises where leaders define, identify, rank, debate and discuss the compliance topics most relevant to their business.  Leaders apply compliance knowledge to a highly competitive, technology enabled, paperless gamified business simulation where learners must run a business over 4 quarters by making decisions about product, pricing, strategy and compliance based on the COMPETE simulation from Dashboard Simulations.

The simulation explored all the key legal compliance topics including:

  • GDPR (Data Protection)
  • Competition Law
  • ABC (Anti Bribery and Corruption)
  • Contracts
  • Channel Stuffing
  • Whistleblowing 

The Business Simulation

In the simulation the leaders, working in teams, compete as businesses in direct competition with each other under time pressure over a full financial year of 4 quarters compressed into two hours. The simulation is challenging and highly competitive with lots of information to be digested in in a short-time. During each round additional information is drip-fed to each team concerning potential legal dilemmas developing in their businesses. Finally, in the last 5 minutes of each round, on top of everything else, each team must rank their management responses to 4 tricky questions about each legal dilemma.

When each team submits their answers into the simulation, their legal compliance decisions impact their profits in the year, company reputations and can also result in massive fines in the next financial year – just like the real world. This serves to highlight the fact that, as well as being the wrong thing to do, it also very bad business and potentially career destroying to make (or be party to) legally non-compliant decisions as a business leader in an organization.

Once everyone has submitted their decisions for the round the business results for all teams are revealed on large screen and discussed and dissected. Each team is then given time to review their "Compliance Report" and discuss their learning before moving onto the next round of the simulation and doing it all again with a whole new set of business and legal compliance challenges.

The Results

The course was piloted with members of the United Kingdom Senior Leadership Team in London during January 2018 followed by the most recent and largest delivery during the Asia Pacific Leadership Conference in Fiji during February 2018.  Leadership teams in both regions are actively working with the Learning and Talent Development team to deliver the course more broadly across the organization.  Additionally, there are plans to launch the course in North America.  Leaders who engaged with the content during the dynamic workshop styled portion of the course have asked for leader guides and kits to facilitate similar discussions with their teams, which advances a leader-led culture of learning in the organization!  

The course achieved remarkable feedback from participants,  Generally, participants commented that the course was delivered in a very innovative way and far exceeded their expectations.  One participant even stated the course was the best course they’ve attended in their 10 years of being employed by the company!  Over 90% of survey respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the following statements: 

  • The course content and activities were effective in achieving the  objectives 
  • The course provided information that will help me perform my role better
  • I would recommend this course to a colleague

Next steps include partnering with RELX Compliance to deliver the program to enhance the Culture of Compliance across RELX.

The Simulation technology

The simulation was designed using the COMPETE business simulation platform from Dashboard Simulations which allows a competitive team business simulation to be quickly setup for 2-6 teams for any type of businesses without the need for any software development. 

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More about Ken Thompson

Ken Thompson

Ken is a practitioner, author and speaker on Leadership, Collaborative Working, High Performing Teams, Change Management, Project Management and Business Acumen. His work has featured in major publications including The Guardian , Wired Magazine, The Huffington Post and The Henry Ford Magazine. Ken has also spoken at many international events including TEDx, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), Learn Tech (London) and NASA.

Ken is Founder of Business Simulations Ltd.

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