Awareness is Fundamental to Governance, Risk and Compliance

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- What is critical to governance, risk and compliance?

Is it hardware and software solutions?

Is it enforcement of policies, procedures and compliance processes?

Is it training at all levels of the company?

Yes. But even before that, comes awareness.

Didn't JPMorgan ( JPM) have hardware and software systems in place?

I must believe Wal-Mart ( WMT) had policies, procedures and compliance in place -- even in their Mexico operations.

Don't you think there was training for leaders and staff at the GSA and Secret Service?

Awareness is the fundamental, irrefutable essence of governance, risk, compliance and essentially all strategic business growth. Without an awareness of critical dimensions of the business, decisions are gambles -- and shareholders do not appreciate gambles.

Awareness should not be viewed with a casual, "Oh, I know that."

It demands an insightful look into what makes you, your company and your industry tick. It's when the stars align to reveal very logical, yet passionate, drivers that compel your decisions.

Speculative, well-thought-out, values-based and culturally aligned risks taken with more upside than downside is what investors want. It's what growth companies thrive on. It's what risk is all about.

Governance revolves around critical thinking and well-informed people making decisions that appreciate both the short- and long-term consequences.

Compliance, while intended to be more, is essentially a checklist to meet government mandates. Often these mandates diminish efficiencies, effectiveness and profits. Sorry for editorializing, but consider the need for 10 safety warning labels in English and Spanish on a common step ladder or plastic bag printings that warn you not to put a plastic bag over your child's head.

The truest starting point of transparent, accountable, responsible disclosure and profitable growth is to focus on how the business model is appropriate to and aligns with the firm's vision. Vision is that glimpse at what the company can become over time with everyone's best efforts.

No one wakes up and says: "How can I make mistakes?" Everyone wants to contribute and needs to understand the company's direction, the part they play in achieving that direction, what the rules are for reward and punishment, and how their performance ranks so far.

Be aware.

Make others aware.

Continue to monitor for internal and external shifts that might impact the information you're used to gathering and analyzing as well as the decisions you've made thus far. Adjust accordingly.

And one day you'll be better than you are today. And investors will recognize the value of being a shareholder in such a business.

This commentary comes from an independent investor or market observer as part of TheStreet guest contributor program. The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of TheStreet or its management.

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