I refuse to watch the remake of The Day the Earth Stood Still, just as I should have refused to watch the remake of The Manchurian Candidate, just as I should have refused to watch the remake of Psycho, just as I should have refused to watch Disturbia (which was a remake of Rear Window no matter WHAT anybody says.) There is absolutely no reason to go back and redo the work of others unless you can do it better. Going from black and white to color is not making it better. Adding whiz-bang special effects (blowing up more stuff) is not making it better. Moving from the 50s to the 80s/90s/00s is not making it better. Doing a shot-for-shot remake with different stars is not making it better. Retesting the tests the testers did to ensure the testers actually tested the tests is not making it better. (Whoops — I may have just played my hand.)
Better is adding new concepts to an existing project. Better is bringing new thoughts and ideas into the project. Better is revealing something new about the subject. Better is leaving that project with everyone having learned something new — something important that didn’t exist in the previous incarnation.
Which is why, no matter what project you are taking on, you have to ask yourself, “how is what I am doing making a difference?” And it is also why you have to ask yourself, “Am I just doing the same things over and over?”
As auditors, there are two different aspects to this “Extreme Project Makeover” thing. The first relates to the projects we complete. In applying the “remaking the classics” quandary that has just been posed, we have to determine if we are really doing anything different in our projects or just reprising our greatest hits. (Like Chris Farley asking Paul McCartney, “Remember 10 years ago when you did that cash count and you found the Petty Cash clerk stole 20 dollars? That was awesome!”) The challenge is to approach audit projects (any audit project — from the lowliest tic and tie to the most grandiose advisory engagement) in a way that brings something new to the table.
And the second aspect (and perhaps the most movie-like) is, when we are assisting/reviewing/impeding a project, are we just doing a shot-for-shot remake of the project they already did? And, again, this isn’t just the grandiose things — it is every project/system/process we take a look at. How is our remake making a difference?
It can happen. The Magnificent Seven took Seven Samurai (a great movie in its own right — if you’ve never seen it, go watch it right now. We’ll wait) and made it something different. And we all have projects (the small and the great) where we were able to go beyond the rehashing of a previously existing product. (Please feel free to share.) But we have to take the next step. These accomplishments have to be the rule, not the exception.
And the worst part is – I will probably break down and put The Day the Earth Stood Still on my Netflix list.