​What Internal Auditors Can Learn From Pixar, Number 5

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Following is the final quote I will be quoting from Ed Catmull's new book Creativity, Inc. To see why I'm doing this, take a look at Monday's post.

"Making the process better, easier, and cheaper is an important aspiration, something we continually work on – but it is not the goal. Making something great is the goal."

I want to finish this little exercise with this quote because I think it gets to a fundamental failure with some internal audit departments, and a fundamental opportunity for us to become better.

It seems we feel our first and primary role is always to ensure controls are in place. And we very often talk about how we improved the process (although that is usually accomplished by adding more steps, more processes, more work.) And we know we have hit stratospheric heights when we can discuss how we made the process easier or cheaper.

But how often is our focus on helping our clients/customers/auditees make something great?

Think that isn't our job? Back up just a second. What is the purpose of controls? To help people meet their objectives. But we take such a narrow focus of controls – in fact, we take such a narrow focus on the objectives we think are important – we miss the big picture.

I could go on for a while on this one. (In fact, it was all I could do to keep from ripping into the way people approach COSO and SOX testing - I'll save that for another day.) But I've really been trying to keep my comments on these quotes as short and to the point as possible. (Possible for me.)

Let me just end the same way I started. Ed Catmull's book should be of interest to anyone who cares about creativity and anyone who wants to know about the inner workings of Pixar. But, in spite of how you may initially feel, it should be of interest to anyone in internal audit.

Just remember that you may have to take a little step outside your comfort zone.

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