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When Non-Conformity Enhances Compliance

My company has an office located on a small, serene New England lake, and the lake is ringed with a well-maintained asphalt trail. While visiting there on a recent spring day, I decided to take in a brisk trek around the lake. As I approached the trail, I couldn’t help but notice that nearly all of the other strollers, joggers, and dog-walkers were going about their business in a clockwise manner. For whatever reason, I decided to take the road less traveled by: I stepped onto the trail and deliberately began walking in a rebellious, counter-clockwise direction.

For the first half-mile or so I felt invigorated by my decision. I greeted every oncoming pedestrian with a beaming smile signaling that I was a maverick, a distinctive individualist. But soon I began to have a nagging feeling that eroded my mavericky demeanor. It took me another half-mile or so to figure out why I felt guilty and confused: I, the chief compliance officer, had...

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