Art Imitates Audit


Last week I talked about the struggles we all face when confronting a blank sheet of paper; that moment every creator fears (and should embrace) when there is empty space begging for an idea. "Creator?" you may ask. "Auditors are creators?" Don't fool yourself. We may not do original work, but creation is part of what we do – create audit reports, create audit programs, create audit schedules, create audit plans, create fear (wait, strike that one). Everyone is a creator – even if that creation does not seem particularly creative. 
Anyway, this Monday morning (actually starting Sunday night), art imitated life, words imitated reality, and blogging imitated a vast wasteland. There I sat in front of a blank screen with a similarly blank mind in search of an idea.
Now, let me tell you the way this whole blogging thing works for me. For a Monday post, I do most of the work Sunday night. And last night I started fiddling on the computer and writing and deleting and going through some old notes and writing and deleting and staring at the screen and writing and deleting and writing some more and deleting some more.
Don't get me wrong, I was coming up with ideas. But each and every one felt like I had said it before. And If I started typing, I felt like I had typed it before. And if I started to read what I was typing, I felt like I had read it before. And I began to get a strong sense that there is nothing new under the sun, on the computer, and within internal audit.
And I'm willing to bet it has happened to you, too. I've never seen an auditor who lasts three or four years in the profession without hitting that wall. (Double negative – let me try that one again.) Every auditor I've ever worked with for any length of time hits the" it-never-will-improve-nothing-is-going-to-change-why-am-I-doing-this" wall. And the old joke about "We're trying to put ourselves out of work" gets real old real quick. That wall comes crashing up because it is very hard to go out there and try to change the way things are done (and trying to change things is what good auditors are striving for) without seeing any change.
So I would tell myself and I would tell all the auditors who worked with me to hang in there – things are changing for the better. And every once in a while something big would happen; audit would create a seismic change. Or we would go back to a department/organization/person and find that things did improve. Or someone would come to us and say thanks for making things a little bit better.
Every once in a while you make a difference.
That is why we keep doing what we do.
Yeah, sometimes when I am writing this blog I feel like I've already said what there is to be said. And sometimes we in auditing feel like we've preached about a particular control or a particular risk or a particular issue too many times. It feels like we are recreating the things we've said before.
But my only message to you is that, if you feel like you have met the wall and it is now bludgeoning itself against your head, it will change. (And file this away for the future. You will feel this way time and time again. Remind me to tell you about a couple of years ago when I was ready to believe there was no such thing as value in internal audit.) Someone will thank you, some department will be better, things will change – and it will be because of you.
Have you hit that wall? What turned it around for you?

Posted on Mar 4, 2013 by Mike Jacka

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  1.  Amen!

  1. The patron singer of internal auditing: Frank Sinatra The song: High Hopes (1959) "...just remember the ant. Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant." little by little it's like being nibbled to death by a duck (keep nibbling = it works)
  1. Great read, thanks!  It definitely gives me reassurance!

  1. So true. & I love the way you have managed to write this blog in a way that sounds just like somebody speaking.

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