A Quick Note About Creativity and Reading - Where Did This Audit Go Wrong? A Coda

 

Read any good books lately? Read any good books that didn't have anything to do with internal audit? Read any good books that didn't have anything to do with business? If not, where do you expect to get your next big idea... thin air?
 
Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying you shouldn't read business or audit books. For more on that subject, check out Carolyn Saint's excellent perspective on the topic. But when you limit your inputs to strictly business and audit, then you limit the opportunities for new ideas.
 
Steve Jobs: "Creativity is connecting things."
 
Neil deGrasse Tyson: "What does it mean to be creative? ...you put [things] together into something that is brand new."
 
Where do you get those "things"? The best way is to be a lifelong learner. And the best way to be a lifelong learner – the best way to foster and feed an insatiable curiosity - is to read. 
 
Answers do not come from obvious sources. The trigger for the series of posts I just completed came while reading a collection of short stories by Charles Yu titled Third Class Superhero. (I recommend it.) One of the stories explored how the parts of a person's life come together to make up the entire life. That reminded me of the Benjamin Zander presentation. And that led to the thought that audits may fail because they focus on parts of the audit process rather than the broad idea of what the audit is trying to accomplish. And that made me think of the two "fails" I experienced. And that led to a much delayed post mortem and the resulting posts.
 
Right now I'm reading The Eighth Day by Thornton Wilder. Someone asked me why, what does it have to do with anything? My answer to why is that I have never read anything by Wilder except the play "Our Town" and it sounded like it might be interesting. 
 
And what does it have to do with anything? I don't know....yet.
 
One last quote (I've forgotten the source): "Creativity is like a joke. You don't get it until the end."

Posted on Jul 11, 2014 by Mike Jacka

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  1.  Totally agree with need for variety in reading. One of the questions I like to ask when interviewing candidates for internal audit positions is "tell me about the last three books you read ". Identifies breadth of thinking and ability to adapt ideas. 

  1. I like that one Steve.  As you note, a great way to get a feel for how broad the individual's world view might be.

    I would often asked a similar question:  "What is the last book you've read?"  As you note, it gave me insight into the broadness of the candidate's perspectives.  But I would then follow it with this:  "Tie that in with internal audit."  First, it was surprising how many people's most recent book wasn't a business book, and that instantly made the candidate start working for parallels they hadn't thought of.  It was a great "catch them off guard" question, and an excellent test of their creativity and ability to think quickly.

    By the way, HR never liked the questions I asked.  However, we never got sued.

    Mike

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