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Things Will Never Be the Same

Blogs Mike Jacka, CIA, CPA, CPCU, CLU Apr 14, 2020

Just under a month ago I was knee-deep in preparing a blog post that was the continuation of a series about internal audit’s missed opportunities from the last decade, and internal audit’s responsibility to grab those opportunities in the coming decade.

Specifically, I was ranting about internal audit’s seeming inability to use technology to help get its work done.

And, as I typed and as I ranted and as I railed and as I waxed poetic about the issues and concerns, I stopped, looked around, and realized that, while what I was saying was true and, I hoped, important, somehow it didn’t amount to a pile of mechanical-pencil-eraser dust compared to a world in the grips of a pandemic.

The result was a completely different post, one in which I indicated we were living in strange times and that the work of internal audit, while not the most essential of operations, was still important; that we should all go on. And, having said that we should go on, I also said that I needed to step back, take a break, and hit the reset button. ("Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself. I am large, I contain multitudes." — Walt Whitman)

Now, that doesn’t mean I was off contemplating my navel or determining the effect of gamma rays on man-in-the-moon marigolds or how best to get the hatbox ghost tiki mug I’m missing from my Disneyland tiki mug collection. (Okay, I actually was doing that last one). I was still reading and writing and ‘rithmaticing and producing stuff. But it was all wrapped around a mindset of rest and reset.

When this all ends — and it will end, we don’t know exactly how, we don’t know exactly when, but it will end — not only will the world have changed, but we should all emerge with very different perspectives on life, the universe, and everything. Our work will be different, our organizations will be different, and we will be different.

And, when it comes to how we work and accomplish our objectives, we should be reevaluating the in-granite laws we have accepted as sacrosanct truths.

Here's a simple example. As recently as March, how many of you were still hearing the hallowed truth that your job could not be done from home? And how many of the other people in your organization were hearing that same sermon?

Wow! The story changed on that one, didn’t it? We found out there was a lot we could get done while sitting in our dress shirts, finely coifed hair, and pajama bottoms using Zoom, Skype, and an ancient instrument called the telephone.

With something as simple as working remotely, we proved the world can act differently. And, in understanding that one small, but significant, difference, we have to look at the bigger picture and the potential for dramatic changes. Nothing we or our organizations do should be the same. We are learning new ways to get things done. And, rather than think of them as stopgap measures to use until we can go back to the good old ways of doing things, we have to see them as experiments that are leading to a new world.

We have to use this reset to change the way we get our jobs done. And internal auditors have to be leaders, helping organizations institute new ways of working, thinking, and accomplishing objectives.

Personally, I’m still going to be doing the same kind of stuff I’ve been doing. A good hunk of what I do is remote work. (Typing can be done just about anywhere.) But the reboot has got me exploring some alternatives. I’m still sorting it out, but there is and will be change.

And you need to do the same. Before falling into the same, now-antiquated ruts, you need to take a breath and look around. Where were you before? Where are you now? And where will you go?

You may surprise yourself.

Mike Jacka, CIA, CPA, CPCU, CLU

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