If you have heard your management saying “is this what internal auditors do?”, chances are it was meant as a compliment not a complaint! It means that you, the internal auditor, has said or done something that took management by surprise and exceeded what is expected from a traditional internal auditor!
If you have not heard that question /statement yet, you better start wondering why!
How do you get there?
It takes someone with an open mind, courage, flexibility and very high level of curiosity to get there! In particular, you need to:
Think outside the box, but stay inside it!
The concept of “think outside the box” while widely accepted as a unique way of providing solutions, is also criticized by some as being flawed! In an 2014 Forbes article, Dileep Rao questioned the meaning of this widely used cliché and asked who defined the box .What I find interesting in the article is how he talked about the imaginary box and the real one! He said:
“The imaginary box is one that you have imposed on yourself. This box can be based on your assumptions. The real box is more difficult to define, but it is there. It can be based on what your market is willing to accept, or on the strategy you have selected, or on your capabilities.
MY TAKE: There is always a real box that you should stay inside of. The laws of physics still apply. But this real box can change with new trends and technologies. Yesterday’s real box is usually different from today’s real box. The key is to be able to separate today’s real box from the imaginary one. Yes, by all means think outside the imaginary box that imposes artificial constraints on your achievements. But stay inside the real box that is defined by your market and your capacity to satisfy your customers – if you want to win.”
For me, thinking outside the box means leaving your comfort zone, being creative, learning new things and being curious. It does not mean going stray!
Not limiting yourself
Nothing kills a profession like the self-imposed and imaginary limitations! There is no limitation on thinking, applying common sense, imagining and day dreaming!
Keep in mind that the IPPF is not a fence that limits the internal audit process, it is rather its cornerstone! So, build on it and always try to improve it. The IIA cited that the development of the standards is an ongoing process, so be part of it.
You can free yourself from your imposed limitations and turn them into abilities by unleashing these powers within you:
Imagination +day dreaming+ curiosity +courage
Never underestimate the power of imagination and day dreaming! Never underestimate your capabilities! Challenge yourself every day, you won’t be disappointed!
Richard Bach once said:
Utilize your special status
Internal auditors enjoy a very unique status! They combine the characteristics of insiders and outsiders. They are insiders because they are employees of the company and possess thorough understanding of its operations. They are at the same time outsiders in the sense that they are independent and are not involved in the management process.
This gives internal audit the opportunity to take an independent, fresh and holistic look at the operations from both an outsider and insider perspective.
Release your thoughts
If you have a thought that could improve operations and/or minimize risk, research it and share it! Don’t keep it in the back of your mind. Act on it even if it sounds wild! Don’t be shy to ask for advice and help in exploring and developing your thoughts.
This quote from Stephen Richards explains what thoughts are about:
“Reality is a projection of your thoughts or the things you habitually think about.”
These are my thoughts, please share yours!