Thoughts on a Conference

Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending (and presenting at) the Western Regional Conference in Disneyland. It was quite a hardship being forced to go to that location but I … Heck, who do I think I’m fooling? Did I mention it was at Disneyland?! *Old man jumps and dances in boyish glee.* Okay, maybe you’ll want to skip that picture. Did I mention it was Disneyland? Anyway … 

I’ve been going through the notes I took during the conference with the idea that I might share some of the various insights and epiphanies with you. In doing so, I have reminded myself of an interesting point about such sharing. Trying to do so is a mug’s game.
 
Let me give you an example. I have a note here that literally reads “Business objective – why was the group established?” Now, the good news is I remember what that note is about. To audit a function or a process or a department, you must understand the business objective of that function/process/department. The point I got from the speaker was to ask the more basic question, why was the function/process/department established in the first place? That gets to the core objective, and gets to why you want to audit that area.
 
What is so wrong with the description above? I’m willing to bet that a majority of you reading it are saying to yourselves, “Cute, what else you got Jacka?” And there’s the mug’s game.
 
I learned a long time ago that much of training and sharing is about trying to convey your personal epiphanies to others. And it don’t work real good. There’s a good chance that many of you have been to conferences or seminars or luncheon sessions where, upon your return, the boss asked you to share with the entire audit department what you learned. There is also a good chance that your subsequent presentation was less than successful. It is just plain hard to transfer knowledge in that method.
 
So, with that thought in mind, I’m not going to try and convey any of my learnings. Rather, I’ll leave you with two thoughts.
 
First, I pass to you a thought a friend of mine passed on to me that he had gotten from a presentation from the Disney Institute. The presenter made the comment that the only notepad you need at any conference is your name tag. Find two or three items that are truly actionable, write them down, take them back to work, and make it so. To actually take action on two or three ideas, or to make changes in two or three areas, is probably two or three areas more than you have ever done in the past (in spite of your pages of notes.)
 
Second is that that everyone should try to get to an IIA conference – regional, international, other. They bring together some of the best speakers and give you the chance to learn some of the best things going on in the world of internal audit. I’ve never been disappointed.
 
And with that, I’ll ask just one question. What’s the best thing you ever learned at a conference?

Posted on Oct 4, 2010 by Mike Jacka

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