So far (see parts one, two, and three from the previous days) we have spent a lot of time talking about the need for change. Of course the obvious question, if we all agree on that need, is how we accomplish it. Welcome to part four.
I ended part three of this series with the following question: "Do we have to be independent and objective?" That little bit of heresy gets to the real point of this entire ramble/rampage/rant/resolution/call to action. If we want to ensure internal audit moves into that new, relevant future, we must be ready, willing, and able to identify creative innovations. For internal audit to maintain its relevance – to be more than a partner in the business, to be a driver of business success (a requirement that does not conflict with any of our standards) – we have to be ready to shuck some of our preconceived notions and find the unsuspected solutions.
We have to challenge our assumptions. We have to question all we do. We have to creatively identify the opportunities and approaches we need. We have to reevaluate and revalue all we have done while looking for the things that were never there before.
We have to be exploring. Is our role more than the experts on control? Is it our duty to be in charge of risk identification? How do new technologies (some not even having been invented yet) impact the way we work? How does internal audit's use of social media fit into this whole equation? What does it mean to have the cloud available to us? Is there more to life than just "consulting"?
And the big question – are we leaders or are we followers?
I don't know the answers, I don't know the solutions, and I don't even know what the next steps might be. I just know we need them, and we need them now. That's where that whole "creativity" and "innovation" thing comes in. The idea isn't going to come from me; the idea isn't going to come from you – it is going to come from all of us working towards a new vision for internal audit. 2014 is the time when we have to work together to come up with the new solutions.
Things are only going to happen faster. And the lethargic approach to change we have embraced in the past is not going to get us where we need to be.
And don't argue with me on this one. We do not move quickly. When was the last time your internal audit department went through a seismic change? When was the last time it did little more than tweak to make things better? When was the last time you sat back as you reviewed the previous year, looking at all your department accomplished, and said "Wow"? Seriously, when did it ever happen? (If it did, let us all know, because, as I say, we need to work together on this one.)
My challenge to you – challenge everything.
Challenge what you accept for internal audit. Challenge what others expect of the profession. Challenge the way you do things. Challenge the way you think.
Challenge everything, and then create.
Create the new department. Create the new profession. Create the new company. Create an internal audit department and profession that is more than value add, more than partner, more than a regulatory requirement. Build an internal audit department and profession without which no one can live.
As they say in Men in Black, imagine what you'll know tomorrow.
Here's the final thought – I started all this by saying that I didn't believe the beginning of the year really means anything in particular. And that is why I hasten to add that everything I've said above – all the rhetoric and exhortations and pleadings and bludgeonings, etc. – are not a representation of an abrupt change because a new year is here. Rather, this just happens to be the point in time when such exhortations are appropriate. It is just a happy happenstance that the subject comes up now.
We have been building to this for almost 75 years – all the years internal audit could be considered a profession. Now, the time is ripe. 2014 must be the year of creativity and innovation for internal audit.
Keep in touch; let me know how it is all changing. And I'll keep in touch with you. This is the year. And I want us to all be a part of the seismic change that will happen.