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​The Lapses That Can Destroy Us

Blogs Mike Jacka, CIA, CPA, CPCU, CLU Oct 14, 2019

After one of my presentations on critical thinking, an attendee came up to talk.

In the presentation, I talk about the subprime crisis and its contribution to the Great Recession (or whatever we finally decided to call that downturn.)
Afterwards, the gentlemen came up and began discussing a book on the subject, one that was from an insider and provided insights into how badly things had gone and how little retribution there had been.

We were having a good conversation, sharing our thoughts about the debacle and, in general, talking like two intellectual adults who were sharing and building on each other’s idea.

I then said something to the effect of “I’m not bringing this up as a political discussion, but, in her prior role, Elizabeth Warren had been trying to put in some controls.”
Now, you don’t have to agree with that statement; that is what debate is for. But his reaction floored me. He got a look like the sandwich he had just eaten contained something less than fresh meat.

I quickly repeated “Again, not talking about the current political situation.”

To which he replied, “Pocahontas.”

I like to think internal auditors understand the basics of critical thinking, of logical debate, of using facts and information to put forward or refute a discussion. Saying that, I know we all say things in the privacy of our homes, in conversations with friends, in “safe” situations, that are not the epitome of sparkling repartee and wit.

But I was flummoxed to watch the change in conversation from a reasonable conversation involving critical thinking into one using soundbite jingoism.

Internal auditors live and die by critical thinking. Do it right and you’re a star; don’t bother and you wind up in the trash bin of your organization’s history. And the more we let these logical gaps creep into our everyday conversations — heck, the minute we let them creep into our conversations with other professionals — the more likely it is those lapses will occur again and again (and again and again).

I guess my warning to everyone is this simple. Be careful out there, trying to keep your brain somewhere nearby every time you speak. 

Mike Jacka, CIA, CPA, CPCU, CLU

Co-founder and Chief Creative Pilot, Flying Pig Audit, Consulting, and Training Services (FPACTS), based in Phoenix.