A few days ago, I was getting my grande quad flat white from
Starbucks. It is my weekend indulgence to
buy this, my favorite of all the coffee versions. (Okay, sometimes the indulgence happens more
often than just the weekend. Okay, it
definitely happens more often than just the weekend. Okay … Look, we all have our vices. This is one of mine.)
You may or may not know this, but when a flat white is
perfectly constructed, there is a small white dot of milk in the center of the
drink. It is how you can tell if a
barista knows what she is doing — the perfect construction of that dot.
In my area, the baristas must be getting bored because more
and more of them, instead of creating the dot, are creating designs in the
foam. This does not detract from the
quality. Dot or design, it is about the
way the milk is poured into the drink. Once completed, the barista puts a cover on the cup and takes it over to
I have noticed these behaviors because I like to watch them
create the drink. First, that way I can
make sure the barista knows what she is doing. (Once an auditor …) Second, I
enjoy watching a skilled craftsperson ply his or her craft.
During this most recent trip, I watched the barista complete
the drink and noticed she had put a design on top. Suddenly, she took off to
the back room.
Other employees looked perplexed, one even checking the espresso
machine to make sure everything was okay. But they all had work to do, so everyone went back to their tasks.
Soon, the barista returned with her cell phone and took a
picture of the design she had created. She looked up at me sheepishly and said, “it will still taste fine, it
just came out so beautiful.”
Auditors should take away two important points/questions
from this story.
Point #1: The lid
goes on the cup well before the customer sees it. The dot or the design is done for no one else
but the individual crafting the drink. I
happen to see them because it is something I like to observe. But I would guess most customers couldn’t
care less; just make sure it tastes good.
Which raises the question, do you focus just as intently on the work
that won’t be seen by anyone, be it customer, boss, or co-worker? Do you revel in the thrill of perfectly
executing the craft of internal audit without caring who, if anyone, will see
Point #2: When was
the last time you did any work in internal audit that was so perfect, so
wonderful, so beautiful that you wanted to take a picture of it? Not just finding some issue that saved the organization
millions; not just uncovering a fraud perpetrated by a high-ranking executive;
not just finishing a project where everyone shook hands, said it was a job well
done, and went on with their lives. No,
literally doing work that amazed you with its perfection, its craftsmanship,
and its beauty.
Those are questions that should be asked with every task,
every test, every project, every day as you complete your work in internal
audit. When you are more than just satisfied
with your performance — when you are thrilled by your own performance, when you
are amazed by your performance, when you have completed work that no one else
will see that has reached such a stage of perfection that you want to take a
picture — then clients will have no choice but to join in.