Locks are for honest people

I remember being startled the first time I heard the expression that “locks are for honest people.”

My whole life, especially as a kid, I had assumed that the locks on my house or my parents’ car were there to stop burglars and thieves.

Now I get it.

In the E&C world, we could equally say that internal controls are for compliant people. Those who lie, cheat, and steal will find a way around the controls.

As a kid, my parents, my teachers, and my clergy all taught me the importance of trust, respect, honesty and integrity. So, if I spotted a new shed in the yard of that old couple, and my boyish impulses to discover the treasures inside were frustrated by a lock on the door, I naturally walked away, disappointed. Never in a million years would I have even considered the possibility of trying to defeat that lock.

That is the power of values and culture.

And that is why, when one of our employees defeats a control, we need to do more than increase our controls. We need to ask “What is it about our culture that this employee felt the need to behave this way? Why are our values of honesty and integrity not espoused?”

Locks are for compliant people. And culture is the road to compliance.

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