Here in Phoenix, the big news is that the Arizona Cardinals
have selected a new head coach — Steve Wilks. For those who don’t know, the
Arizona Cardinals are the NFL team based in Phoenix. And for those who don’t
know, the NFL is the National Football League — a league of teams that play a
game no one else in the world recognizes as “football.” In fact, in the U.S.
version, the ball actually meets the foot only about 5 percent of the time. But that’s
what we call it, and we’re stuck with it. Anyway …
Mr. Wilks was introduced to the media this week and gave exactly
the kind of speech one would expect from an individual who has recently been tasked
with helping a team achieve a championship. It was a good speech (he delivered
it well, in a heartfelt manner) and it included the words and phrases most of
us expect for any new leader in any organization. He talked about trust, commitment,
accountability, and establishing a culture of winning.
He also spent some time speaking about “excellence.” Again,
not that surprising; something you would desperately hope your new coach would want
to see exhibited by his team. But what was interesting was the way he emphasized
the need for excellence throughout the organization. And when I say “throughout,”
I mean throughout.
Here’s Coach Wilks: “Everything that we do is going to be
predicated towards that. Excellence when we go out on the field — the way we
tackle, the way we block, the way we catch — the way we cook the food, the way
we operate in the training room, the way we answer the phone, and the way we
cut the grass.”
As a local sports announcer noted, “I wonder if the
groundskeepers are aware of the new standards?”
Excellence is a word that gets bandied about. And I hope you
are occasionally bandying it about in your audit department. But, to be truly
excellent, I think we underestimate how deeply embedded that commitment to excellence
has to be.
It is easy to say we will perform audits of the highest excellence.
It is easy to say we will write reports that exhibit excellence. It is easy to
say that we will be staffed with the most excellent talent available. Of
course, it is easier to say than accomplish, but the first step is making the commitment.
However, if we really think about what it means to be a
truly excellent audit department — if we began to contemplate what excellence
in all we do really means — we would learn that it is going to take commitment in
a lot more than just the obvious areas.
Everything (Everything? Everything!) Everything that we do has
to reflect excellence — the way we document our workpapers, the way we conduct
on-site visits, the way we enter a client’s office, the way we lead our
meetings, the way we attend meetings, the way we answer the phones, the way we
write our emails, the way we send our emails, the way we greet others in the
hallway, the way we talk about our clients, the way we go to break, the way we go
to lunch, the way we come to work in the morning, the way we go home in the
I have only scratched the surface.
It is about recognizing that every action, word, sound, step,
and breath reflects whether or not we are an excellent audit department. And if
you really want your department to reflect a commitment to excellence, then it
has to be exhibited in every … single … thing … you … do.
Even cutting the grass.