I'm going to do my darnedest to keep this from turning into a gushing fan letter. You see, Tom Peters spoke to the IIA International Conference yesterday, and I have been a reader, fan, and follower of Mr. Peters since the early 90s. (Sheesh – reader/fan/follower – already sounding a bit cultish.) Accordingly, I was counting on this being one of the highlights of the conference – a conference that has already contained many highlights.
Again, in an effort to keep from being the screaming teenager in the Ed Sullivan Theater, I will not go on about how much I enjoyed the presentation or how it fulfilled the high expectations I brought to the table. Suffice to say that, as expected, Tom provided valuable ideas and concepts, some of which were very different than many internal auditors are used to hearing. If you are interested in seeing some of the content, the slide deck is available on Tom's web site.
I want to share one slide in particular. It became quickly evident that, in learning more about our group prior to the presentation, Tom discovered something that many others are still discovering – we ain't your father's internal audit anymore. And one of the early slides summarized his new understanding of what internal audit now represents. It was titled "Yikes!" (in reference to the shocking breadth of what we do.)
- Corporate conscience/Keeper of the culture
- Risk evaluators (strategic epicenter of the firm)
- Privacy assessors/guardians
- Global puzzle solvers in the Age of Infinite Entanglements
- PR managers
- Systems cops (overall)
- Forensic accountants
- Masters of technology
- Advisors/consigliore to top management
- Advisors/consultants to down-the-line units
There is a lot to like about this list including such words as "guardian", "PR", and "Advisors". But one of my favorites is "Global puzzle solvers in the Age of Infinite Entanglements". Yes, we are puzzle solvers. And yes, we are knee-deep in the infinite entanglements – sometimes untangling; sometimes just helping figure out where the strands lead.
But I also like, in spite of how much the term may rankle us, the reminder that we are still cops. No, it is no longer our primary job/role/responsibility, but it is still part of the requirement for fulfilling our purpose.
And here's your takeaway (besides looking more closely at the entire presentation.) Peruse this list closely and ask yourself "Is my department living up to each of these challenges?", "Do my customers perceive me as having the skills and perception necessary to take on these roles?", and "Do I even believe it?"
And, in case you didn't know it, the answer to all three should be yes. If not, then you still have a lot of work to do. And, if you did answer yes to all three, you still have a lot of work to do.