This week was the audit of my company’s business management system. Today is the last day of the audit where we receive the final report indicating any major or minor findings and observations. To help my eight-year-old daughter understand what an audit is like I asked her what her standardized tests were like. She told me they are 75 minutes long and spread over a couple of weeks. She also said most students are unable to complete the tests as it is pretty hard. The AS9100 recertification audit is like taking 6 or 7 of her standardized tests for four days straight. She told me that she was sorry I had to go through it and that it sounded rough. I told her many people are involved and it’s not just me who gets to take the “test.” And, like I said in a previous post, an audit just looks for the evidence that we do what we say we do. An audit checks a companies integrity. If we do what we say we do and document it, then the audit is pretty straight forward and nothing to stress about.
That’s easier said than done. Any test, audit or other form of feedback on our integrity and activities is difficult on the ego. The intent is improvement and to make sure we are meeting the expectations of our customers as well as ourselves. The more we can hold the idea that there is always opportunity for improvement in our heads while we interact with customers, auditors or amongst ourselves, the easier it is to get feedback.
Already in this week, we learned that we would get a couple of findings. Although the initial reaction is to defend ourselves, the findings are simply exposures of opportunities. What we do with the information is either value added to ourselves or not. When I looked at the objective evidence an auditor shared with me about a process and personnel I’m responsible for, I had no argument or defense. It was clear as clear could be. It was an escape from what we say we do or in this case we said we were going to do something and when the auditor checked we hadn’t done it. The integrity check revealed an opportunity to improve my own leadership, process and personnel. It’s up to me to do something about it now.