The dangers of complacent success: don’t stop when you are finished
I try to listen to and learn from every person I meet, whether at a conference, an internal or customer meeting, or even a social gathering. Some executives (and I talk primarily about audit and risk executives) are receptive, as you might expect, to the potential that new practices and technology offer. Some are open to the possibilities offered of continuous controls monitoring (not just transaction monitoring, but monitoring that actually confirms the operation of controls), business intelligence, providing assurance on governance and risk management, and so on. Our discussions are fruitful and I continually refine my thinking from what I hear.
But some are less open and receptive. True, some can see real obstacles – such as the diversity of their technology infrastructure. However, others seem to be quite happy where they are and aren’t really interested in change.
For a while, I struggled to understand this – and then it clicked.
Do you know the expression: “think out of the box”? For some time, I have been extending the metaphor to “get out of the box” and then “stay out of the box”. The latter is necessary because once you have fixed what was broken and created a new, much more efficient and effective situation, you can fashion that into the fabric of a new “box”.
The people I am talking to who are happy where they are have, as a rule, been successful creating their current set of processes, their organization. They have been recognized and rewarded. But, they have fallen in love with their situation and created a “box” for themselves – one they find it hard to get out of, let alone think out of. This will, in time, catch up with them.
Years ago, I took a position as the head of internal audit for an oil company. I asked what happened to the previous gentleman, whom I had met and knew had been at the company for many years. I was told that while he had been successful and satisfied both the audit committee and top management, he had a “run-in” with the new CEO. Apparently, the CEO came in with new ideas and expectations – including for internal audit. My predecessor was so in love with the box he had crafted that his eyes and ears were closed and he could not hear the CEO’s new ideas. His box was, in fact, now an old box – and his thinking was old thinking.
The lesson for me is quite clear.
When you set about fixing your function and realizing a vision for it, don’t stop when you are finished. While what you have created may be leading-edge and ahead of every competitor and peer, it won’t stay that way for long.
Make sure your new function has the agile ability to continue to change, develop, and grow. Don’t build a new box to stifle your ability to embrace change.
Recent Posts on this Blog
- Risk in the Fourth Dimension January 15, 2017
- How much cyber risk should an organization take? January 7, 2017
- The real risks: the ones not in the typical list of top risks December 31, 2016
- An expert shares his views on the future of risk management December 18, 2016
- Selecting software to help manage user access risk December 17, 2016
- User access risk and SOX compliance December 12, 2016
- Risk and Culture December 9, 2016
- New guidance on operational risk December 3, 2016
- Why do so many practitioners misunderstand risk? November 26, 2016
- A new front opens in the SOX battle November 20, 2016
- Internal audit reports do the function a great disservice November 12, 2016
- My new book on Auditing that Matters is available November 9, 2016
- Time for a leap change in risk management guidance November 5, 2016
- Cyber security and the board October 29, 2016
- The biggest obstacle to effective risk management October 28, 2016
- An Important Cyberrisk Framework January 16, 2017
- Deloitte Shares a List of "Risk" Trends to Watch in 2017 and Beyond January 9, 2017
- What Does the New Year Hold for Internal Audit? January 5, 2017
- The Decision-maker's View of Risk December 19, 2016
- How Much Cyberrisk Should We Take? January 4, 2017
- Do We Know How to Audit Technology-related Risks? December 5, 2016
- The State of Information or Cybersecurity November 28, 2016
- Back to the Future for Internal Audit November 21, 2016
- How Do You Change the Culture of the Organization? November 15, 2016
- Why Does ERM Fail So Often? November 7, 2016