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The emperor's new clothes: What's your attitude about training?

Calvin London ( is the Founder and Principal Consultant of The Compliance Concierge.

I don’t know how many of you are familiar with the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” It is about two swindlers who arrive at the capital city of an emperor known for excessive spending on lavish clothes at the expense of state matters. Posing as weavers, they offer to supply him with magnificent clothes that are invisible to those who are stupid or incompetent. The emperor hires them, they set up their looms, and they go to work. Many of the emperor’s officials and the emperor himself view the progress, and although none of them can see any clothing being made, they all pretend that they are the finest clothes they have seen.

When the swindlers finally announce the clothes are finished, the emperor organizes a big procession to show off his fine new clothes. All the people look on in amazement, none of them wanting to call out that, in fact, he has no clothes, until a child blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all. The people then realize that everyone has been fooled, and although startled, the emperor continues the procession, walking more proudly than ever.

Few people will admit to liking compliance training. Management of companies more often than not see it as a necessary evil, yet it is one of the essential components of any compliance program. Is your company like the emperor’s town, not wanting to admit that you do training mostly to tick it off the audit requirement list?

Where does your management sit on training?

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