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Bootsy Collins on Funk and Internal Audit

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​To kick things off I'd like you to watch a short video where Bootsy Collins describes his basic funk formula.

"What is a Bootsy Collins?" you might ask. Uh-oh. Time for a brief music history lesson.

Bootsy Collins is a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and one of the leading names in funk. His distinctive bass was an integral part of the James Brown sound, as well as George Clinton's Parliament Funkadelic. (And if you don't know who James Brown and George Clinton are, then consider yourself to have been assigned additional homework.) To some, Bootsy Collins' bass lines are funk.

In this quick, one minute and twenty second video, Bootsy shows how he puts together a funk groove. Pay close attention because it really is so simple it might pass by you. In fact, it can be expressed in three words — hit the one.

Funk can be as complicated and as primal as the players want it to be. And yet, Bootsy shows us that there is only one thing that need happen — the bass has to hit the one. All that rhythm, all those textures, everything that is funk, is based on the solid foundation of hitting the one. (I hope that makes sense, even if you aren't musically inclined. In fact, if you watched Bootsy's description, it should make perfect sense. You did watch the video, didn't you?)

You want to know what's wrong with internal audit right now? We think we are playing symphonies when what we need is a little funk.

In symphonic music, each player has a set of notes that must be played perfectly. There is no (double emphasize "no") room for any deviation. Everyone (double emphasize "everyone") must (double emphasize "must"​) follow exactly (double emphasize "exactly") what is written.

In a similar fashion, we treat audit work as though it has passed down to us by the great masters, immutable and ready to be performed. (Heck, we even "conduct" audits. A coincidence? Of course it is. But don't stop me; I'm on a roll.)

I am always fascinated by people who insist on having full-blown audit programs for every situation. Of course, any audit work has to have some form, some structure, or, as Bootsy would say, we have to "hit the one." But what I see are people looking for the exact questions to ask and tests to test and forms to fill out and templates to complete and I am reminded of the good old bad old days when ICQs were all the rage and an auditor thought the job was complete when all the yes or no questions had been answered.

No follow-up, no digging deeper, no room to breathe additional life into the audit. Just perform what is on the page and know that another classic had been executed.

We need a whole lot more Bootsy in our approach. When the only requirement is that we hit the one, we have all the structure and foundation we need. It is this approach that will leave room for auditors (and the audit department) to fill the space based on the immediate needs of each situation. And it is this approach that will allow us to find the value we keep promising we are here to add.

And, before you tell me that your department isn't that up tight — before you protest too much that you allow people to adapt and change to situations — let me ask one question: When have you ever cancelled a scheduled audit after it was already started.

The orchestra was already in place and the symphony had begun. Your hands were tied. There was nothing you could do.

And here's another question to answer as you busily protest your funkiness: When was the last time you sent an auditor out with little more than an objective and an understanding of the process, and said "do that audit."

It isn't the written notes that make a great audit; it is what the auditor fits between them.

And now, as you work on that next audit, a bit a lagniappe for your listening and dancing pleasure. Bootsy demonstrating everything he just described as he plays "Stretchin' Out."

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