Following is a quote from Ed Catmull's new book Creativity, Inc. To see why I'm quoting it, take a look at Monday's post.
"The oversight group had been put in place without anyone asking a fundamental question: How do we enable our people to solve problems? Instead they asked 'How do we prevent our people from screwing up?'"
I could use this quote as a springboard into discussing how we need to approach our audits this way, with the idea of digging into why controls and processes were put into place, and whether they actually supported the work that was to get done, but I'm gonna do that in the next post of this series. (Ooo – a teaser!)
Instead, let's talk, about the way internal audit does its work. We don't like to make mistakes. I've got a lot of theories as to why, but I won't go into them right now. Instead, I'll just say that many of our problems with timeliness and, yes even quality, have to do with this need for perfection and fear of failure. (Another quote from the book – lagniappe if you will – "Failure is a manifestation of learning and exploration." For you extra credit assignment, discuss why it is important for auditors to go ahead and fail.)
So, with that in mind, if you are truly looking to make a world-class audit department, first look back at lesson number two from Tuesday (yes, you have to look it up; I'm not repeating it here) and, second, take a look at your processes and, maybe most importantly, all those reviews. And then ask how many are put there to help people solve problems and how many are only preventing auditors from screwing up.
The minute you start solving problems rather than just preventing screw ups is the minute you start getting some efficiency and value in your audits.