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  • Writer's pictureRichard Bistrong

Can Anti-Bribery Compliance Be Animated?

Updated: Sep 10, 2020

Today’s guest blog is from Nicole Rose (, the energetic (if I say so myself), creative founder, and CEO of Create Training and The Centre for Excellence.

Caricatures can be found as far back as the 14th Century with Leonardo da Vinci. Martin Luther extensively used drawings of a more editorial nature in the Reform movement, and by the 18th century, animation had become a standard means of commentary. Satire, via cartoons, allowed serious issues to be presented in a manner that was not only funny, and hence more socially acceptable, but also designed to influence the viewer’s opinion. Moving forward a few centuries, we have the proliferation of political cartoons and animations in the First and Second World Wars.

We now only have to look at a newspaper to find the latest scandal, political issue of the day, or celebrity being turned into a cartoon. Why? Because it engages us! People like to be entertained, and at the same time, intellectually stimulated. Animation has the ability to take serious topics and make them palatable by attracting our attention and engaging deeper thought. That’s why we use it in our training.

Ever since cave paintings, storytelling has been one of our most important communication methods. But as well as the historical context, there is a science as to why we feel more engaged when we hear a story as opposed to being told facts and presented with data. If we listen to a PowerPoint presentation, for example, the language processing parts of our brain (where we decode words into meaning) are activated. But that’s all. However, researchers in Spain found then when we are being told a story, not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but other areas of our ‘wiring’ that are used when experiencing the events of the story, are also activated. In other words, “stories, (as) this research is showing, stimulate the brain and even change how we act in life.”

In his book, “The Art of Changing the Brain,” Zull (2002) indicated that learning is deeper and more effective when we engage all parts of the brain. Scientifically, when our brain experiences an emotionally charged event, it releases dopamine into our system, making it easier to remember and recall with greater accuracy. Stories give participants’ brains an opportunity to attach new information to their prior knowledge;  this attachment facilitates long-term memory storage.

But, it gets even more fascinating. According to Uri Hasson (Associate Professor, Princeton), the brain of the person telling a story and the brains of the people listening to it actually synchronize, also known as neural coupling. So anything the narrator has experienced, the persons listening to the story can also experience. This is because storytelling mimics the narratives that we have with ourselves all day.

Whether it’s about work, groceries, the people in our lives, we make up (short) stories in our heads for every action and conversation. Kathleen Iverson (Chair Graduate Program in Training & Development Roosevelt University) refers to it as to how a story  activates parts in the brain that allows the listener to turn the story into their own ideas and experience.

The importance of creativity and storytelling is now seen as critical in schools, as is highlighted in the new Australian Curriculum.

“Recent discoveries in neuroscience have furthered theories about thinking, the brain, perception and the link between cognition and emotions. Theorists believe that learning is enhanced when rich environments contain multiple stimuli, stressing the importance of engaging the mind’s natural curiosity through complex and meaningful challenges.”

For the past two years, my company, Create Training, has been using the science and engagement of creativity to help global organizations communicate and learn about compliance. We have created over 100 animated training videos for clients on a number of compliance and workplace training topics including corruption and anti-bribery. A brilliant by-product of animation is that they are made using layers, which can be easily altered and calibrated to the needs of the client. This has also allowed us be able to build our animations in different languages and also respond to different cultures.

In order to make our training as accessible as possible, we developed a library of licensed training. The Centre For Excellence has a library of thirty compliance and workplace training related topics, all brilliantly and uniquely designed to provide a compliance training package: dedicated to engagement, retention and to encourage discourse and critical thinking.

People enjoy a good story, be it news, gossip or a real world rise and fall. So when I came across the journey of Richard Bistrong and heard him speak on a panel, I just knew I had to tell his story. However, I had to tell it ‘my way’ – by animation.

Richard’s animated story is more than just a reminder that breaking the law will get you in trouble. We all know that. That message of consequences on its own does not work, because people don’t always rationally calculate risk and ramifications when making a decision. While criminal deterrence is real, it’s also often abstract and ‘off the horizon’ at the front-lines of international business.

Richard’s animated story is an amazing real life case study that sets out the behaviours, circumstances and environment that can lead to people breaking the law and risking their own liberty. Richard’s message is not an attempt to justify his behaviour and actions. It is, in fact, entirely the opposite; Richard shares that he knew what he did was immoral, unethical and illegal when he did it. It’s a story of why someone who was well educated and compensated would risk it all to engage in bribery and corruption. As Richard shares, “it’s a story of how it all went so wrong.”

Richard’s is a real life case study that demonstrates the dangers of rationalizing your actions to break the law. The Investigator, Robert (“Bob”) Appleton, Deputy Chairman of the UN Procurement Task Force, who in 2006/2007 actually investigated Richard and shared his findings with the US Justice Department, spells out this danger in Richard’s animation. Bob appears, in his own words, as a character and narrator in the story, and gives the animation an unprecedented dimension that even I did not envisage when I started work on this project.

Richard, Robert and I decided that this animated journey is so important to share, that we would make it freely accessible to everyone. Today’s blog brings you the trailer to Richard Bistrong: Why we say yes. The full-length feature will be available on September 14th. Be on the lookout, or sign up here.

As a lawyer for many years, I cannot resist sharing Richard’s legal and personal trajectory, including his intersection with Bob. I hope that viewers will agree that the case for animating Richard’s story in order to engage and inspire further thought and discussion from compliance, legal and commercial leaders, is a strong one. As shared from an earlier article “stories and dramas can help us understand the complexities of social life.”

Nicole Rose

Founder of Centre for Excellence and Create Training

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