Ummmm. I Forget

Last week, for your dining and dancing pleasure, I provided part one of a two-part discussion regarding communication — about how the simple act of answering a question can have so much more behind it than just the words that are spoken. For part two I promised to continue the discussion by delving into the boredom of answering the question that is actually asked. I had some very interesting insights about the subject. 

A funny thing happened on the way to writing part two. It was all right there in my mind — it lay there in a logical pattern waiting to be transferred from thought to reality. It was so fresh, so precise, so perfect; I knew there was no harm in waiting a day or two to accomplish that transfer. However, the human brain is a funny thing. What is important, front of mind, and fresh one day becomes muddled, confused, and just plain lost — curdled and useless as last week’s open milk carton — the next. All of this a quite lengthy way of saying, danged if I can remember what my next point was.

Beyond the embarrassment of admitting this to you, my faithful readers (please tell me there is more than one of you), another recent event drove home the importance of getting thought to paper. Last week I was in a number of meetings between Internal Audit and various leaders within our company. The purpose was for us to speak with the executives about their strategies for the coming year, the risks they saw, and how audit might be able to help. We had some extensive, informational, just plain good conversations.

One of my duties was to take meeting notes.

Well, with there being so many meetings and because I was so-o-o-o busy with other things, I didn’t have a chance to review those handwritten notes until the beginning of this week. Putting this as kindly as I know, I have handwriting that is somewhat akin the scratching of an uncalibrated seismograph. The deciphering of those notes with the faded memory that comes from passing time has become somewhat problematic.

I know. It is a basic rule we teach every auditor. Heck, it is a basic rule we teach our kids in school. Write it down while it is fresh so you have all the details.

And so I sit here broken-hearted trying to decipher hieroglyphic handwriting in an attempt to document what the leaders of our company laid out as their strategies for the coming year.

There were others in the meetings (others to whom I will have to beg, grovel, and generally debase myself) who will be able to help me fill in the blanks, and I believe the potential disaster of my little faux pas can be appropriately mitigated. But it is a definite smack-upside-the-head reminder that, when you have the thought, when you have the idea, when you have the notes – record it, write it down, memorialize it.

(I won’t even bother you with the story of driving back from Los Angeles with a co-worker and, somewhere between Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona, coming up with a brilliant solution for a significant issue we had relating to field work and how we drove on congratulating each other and high-fiving ourselves for our genius and generally back-slapping our way back to Phoenix without recording it and, to this day – 10 years later – we still can’t remember what we came up with.)

Now, if only there had been someone sitting in my brain who could prod me with information on the second brilliant point I wanted to make based on last week's post.

Posted on Aug 2, 2012 by Mike Jacka

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  1. Yes, I do agree. A lot of effort in remembering the points discussed at a meeting is done away. And yes sometimes interesting facts are revealed during such meetings which form a source of potential risk areas which need attention by us as an auditor.

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