(Anyone else hear an Aretha Franklin song when they read this?)
I'm at the All Star Conference this week. The first presenter — Karen McCullough — talked about change: What it takes to change, how to change, the need for change, how you respond to the challenge of "change or die." It was a very good presentation that I found particularly fascinating because I get to speak at the end of the conference, and a key to my presentation is the need for internal audit (and internal auditors) to change.
I listened intently.
And then I realized there is an interesting phenomenon out there. An intense conversation is occurring around the need for change. And that is slopping over into our profession; that is why these presentations are appearing more often in the internal audit world.
A good thing, correct? Unfortunately, I am seeing something depressing occurring, also.
I look at the faces of those watching these presentations, and I see people being entertained and people who like what they are hearing and people who are harboring an unspoken amen. But what I do not see is the light switch turning on, the recognition that speakers are talking to the person and to the profession, the Eureka moment.
I do not see people ready to change.
And that is the first challenge — to recognize that all these presenters are, indeed, speaking to internal audit.
But, even if we jump on the bandwagon, will it really make a difference?
There is another thing going on here. I've sat in a lot of conferences and seminars and speeches and training and other butt-numbing auditory inundations. I know the way most people approach what they hear.
Presentations are either good or bad or so-so or "like nothing I've ever heard before" or a good reason to sneak off to lunch early or everything in between. And the result is tons of notes or no notes or a few good ideas or a bunch of stuff or pages of detail or doodles and curlicues. And then you go back to the office and the next disaster strikes and you react rather than "proact" and you are knee-deep in the daily grind and slog and all those notes and good ideas go the way of an unwatered plant — dying for lack of attention.
Tell me it hasn't happened.
Hugh MacCleod has a great drawing that includes the phrase "Habits eat good intentions for breakfast."
We come back from training with the best of intentions, but let the habits take back over. The only way to change is to start with a real commitment to change. And rather than turn this into all the reasons you should change or the ways you should change, I want to approach the challenge this way. Find one significant thing that needs to be changed — a process, an approach, a mindset, a habit — and focus on maintaining that change.
Then another, then another, then another.
And if that change derives from a presentation, if that change derives from someone speaking on change, if that change derives from the presentation I will be giving on Wednesday, then that is all the better.
Because the first change we need to make is to embrace, facilitate, and drive change.