And Then Again...

A wise man changes his mind, a fool never will – Spanish proverb 

In the past, I have mentioned that every auditor should visit Seth Godin’s blog. Yes, it is about marketing. But it is also an idea blog. And there are two points that should be kept in mind as you read it: 1) Seth’s blog brings up innovative ideas that apply to everyone, even auditors, and 2) If auditors do not recognize that they are marketers, then we have already lost one of our most important battles.
Recently, I was looking at the list of books he has written to see if any looked interesting. Among the books was one titled Free Prize Inside. Upon seeing this I was quite concerned because I remembered this as a book that a group of us were force-fed during a business meeting a few years ago.
Aside: There is a web site out there called LibraryThing. If you are a bibliophile, it is a site worth checking out. I found it a few years ago and began logging my book collection. (The less said about the ongoing debate I have with my wife regarding my inability to get rid of any book, the better.) I also started writing reviews of the books I read. Not because I found my thoughts particularly pithy or profound, but because I realized it was an excellent way to help reinforce what I had read – the mere fact of writing it down making it easier to later recall what I had read.
I went to LibraryThing and read my review of Seth’s book. Sure enough, the review indicated that I found little use for its contents. In fact, I was quite virulent in my scathing, self-righteous, and pontificatous attack.
So, I went back, looked at the book one more time, and realized that, whatever precipitated my previous screed was no longer valid. I realized some of what Godin was doing, and I recognized a lot of the preconception with which I had vilified the book.
Maybe it’s because I have a better understanding of where the author is coming from. Maybe it’s because I have a different perspective brought on by experience I’ve gained since the first reading. And maybe it’s because I’m in a personal situation where this speaks better to me than it did in the past. I can’t really tell you why. What I can tell you is that this reinforces the importance of consistently revisiting cherished beliefs and suppositions and pre-conceived notions to determine if you or those notions have changed.
Look back at Internal Audit’s history. Auditing, a long time ago, was about bayoneting the wounded. (In some situations, it may not be as long ago as we suspect.) Now it is about partnering with the business. One small indication of this change – a new definition of internal audit.
And, I’ll bet that if you are willing to take a look at some of your fundamental beliefs from as recently as one or two years ago - honestly look at them – you will find changes.
Yeah, I’m just talking about one book, but we all have to look at what we hold dear, and see if maybe we were wrong. I was wrong on a book review. And I also happened to be wrong on an approach for assurance that I held sacrosanct within our company. (You don’t need the details – just trust me on this one.) But reinspecting what I held sacred led me to a solution that I hadn’t really thought of before. And it meant better assurance, better value-add, and better solutions for the company.

Posted on Aug 13, 2012 by Mike Jacka

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