​​​​​​What's a D23 and Why Should an Internal Auditor Care?

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If you read much of what I've written in the past, you know I proselytize endlessly on the need for internal auditors to learn, practice, and live for creativity and innovation. Without putting too fine a point on it, I think it is the only way we can maintain our relevancy into the future.

 Well, here's another thought on the subject.

 This weekend I was at the D23 Convention in Anaheim. For those who don't know, D23 is the official Disney Fan Club (23 because 1923 was when Walt came to California.) It's a great chance to immerse oneself in all things Disney including animation, movies, history, television, interactive, and just about every other facet of the company.

 This year is the 60th anniversary of Imagineering. Imagineers are the people who come up with all the great activities we get to be involved in when visiting Disney properties. That meant that this year's convention had a lot of great presentations about what the Imagineers have been doing – upcoming projects, recent inventions, and (the part that is germane to our discussion here) how Imagineering keeps coming up with those great ideas.

 During a presentation titled "The DNA of Innovation", an Imagineer named Trish started talking about engendering a creative environment. (And I humbly apologize for the fact that my incompetence has resulted in my not getting her last name – I'd use the excuse that I'm an auditor, not a reporter – but auditors are supposed to be adept at getting and maintaining the relevant information – and I just slammed into a monumental fail.) She provided some rules/concepts/ideas about how to build a creative environment, creative people, and creative organizations.

 The list had a lot of good things in it – things such as "Don't write down the rules" and "Be curious" and "Collaborate at all levels" and "Nurture the nuggets" and one that, according to my notes, was something about exhibiting smart risk that I think was meant to express that the risks that should be taken are the smart ones. (Again, horrible notes – scribbling in the dark on the cover of the guide book while slides quickly flash by represents some of the worst note taking an auditor can exhibit)

 But it was the one she used to start her part of the presentation that really got my attention and set me off on the scribbling of my indecipherable notes: "Don't hire anyone who needs to be managed."

 I am a constant ranter about such things as overmanaging and micromanaging and measuring the wrong things and a myriad of issues that have to do with managers who feel they have to maintain a deep involvement in all stages of the audit process. And I believe part of the reason for this is that so many managers (I won't use the term leaders – they are not leaders) just do not fully trust the people who work for them.

 If you feel you have to manage people, if you feel they are doing a good job but you just need to check up on them, if you feel your involvement is key in the success of every audit project, then you have failed.

 Hire people who do not need to be managed, provide them the tools, and then get out of their way.

 I'm willing to bet that if more audit shops took this approach, besides the creativity and innovation we might start to see as a profession, there would be an overwhelming outpouring of success stories – of audit department that added value, made the organization better, and knocked the socks off everyone in management with their skills, business smarts, and general eptitude.

 (And if anyone knows the name of the Imagineer, please let me know.)​

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