Octopus-like Essential Auditor Skills

auditing Oct 30, 2020

We tackled personal behaviors of auditors in a prior blog post. This one focuses on essential auditor skills. We will discuss knowledge in a future blog post.

Only one word is needed to describe essential auditor skills: communication. One simple word for a very complex answer. Imagine an octopus. You can imagine all the “arms,” right? Did you know that each arm is self-controlled? There is no central brain coordinating all the arms. Each arm is taking in feedback and responding to stimuli autonomously.

This is difficult for humans to imagine, perhaps impossible. Yet, it is a good analogy to express how complicated the communications are when auditing. Let’s explore.

Caption: Auditors must be able to pay attention to multiple priorities while auditing; such as listening, looking closely, and writing. You might also imagine multiple documents being reviewed too!

Key Parts of Communication Message

There are three (3) main parts of communication, with the actual...

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Problem Blindness, Salmon, and Chicago Public Schools

enrichment resources Oct 22, 2020

What does salmon running have to do with ISO? How can this enhance high school graduation rates?

Throughout my career of training, consulting, and auditing organizations and processes, it was common to see weak corrective action systems. There was acceptance that the problem was a part of life (problem blindness) and disbelief that the problems could truly be fixed. Band-aid solutions abounded.

Our society rewards reactive responses to problems. Have you ever witnessed recognition, and perhaps awards, going to people or teams who have “saved the day” by stopping a problem from becoming a disaster? Organizations often throw resources at a problem and avoid putting in the effort to prevent the problems in the first place. This approach does not fix the systemic issues that are pervasive causes of the problem. Just like salmon, to solve a problem, we must go upstream.

The new book Upstream: The Quest to Solve Problems Before They Happen demonstrates the opposite of problem...

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Should I be an ISO Internal Auditor? Which personal attributes matter?

auditing Oct 15, 2020

Are you an experienced internal auditor who longs to be more effective?
Have you been asked recently to be an ISO internal auditor and are unsure whether you have what it takes?
Were you “voluntold” that auditing is a new duty in your job description and are scrambling to understand what is involved?
Are you thinking of volunteering for the role to contribute your talents?

Many complaints about auditors worldwide focus on personal characteristics, so let’s review the personal qualities that auditors need to be effective.

This blog post focuses on the natural tendencies on the personal side of the auditor. We will tackle the skills and knowledge factors important to auditors in future blog posts.

The personal qualities discussed below are universal. It does not matter which ISO standard or type of management system you are auditing. They all apply to quality, environmental, health and safety, Responsible Care®, laboratory, aerospace, automotive, medical...

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Holistic Systems Changes: How do we start?

enrichment Jul 21, 2020

Problem blindness is when we accept the way things are. We do not recognize that there could be a better way. It is a way to justify not taking action. 

If you are human, you are concerned by the arrest and murder of George Floyd and the long list of the other mistreated and murdered people of color. This means you are beginning to recognize the problem. It is upsetting to me that without the viral video, the problem blindness to racism would likely continue unnoticed by many. Now, it is in the spotlight and there is interest to do something to dramatically improve social justice, but how do we start?

Our society rewards reactive responses to problems. We throw resources after the problem and hesitate to put in the effort to prevent the problems in the first place. Firing and charging the offending police officers with murder is an example of a reactive response. It is at least a recognition of the injustice. It does not fix the systemic social issues that are...

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How Will COVID-19 Affect My Audit Schedule? What are the rules?

auditing Apr 17, 2020

Are you wondering how you will complete your internal audits? Or what you need to do to for your 3rd party registrar audits?  Well, this blog contains some official documents to help you sort out fact from fiction so you can make a plan that works for your organization and is within the international "rules."

First, let's explain that the International Accreditation Forum (IAF) is the overarching organization that sets requirements (via mandatory documents) and guidance (informational documents) that apply to Accreditation Bodies (ABs) and Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs). Your 3rd party registrar is a CAB. Here is a link to an overview of IAF. An IAF Informative Document reflects the consensus of IAF members to support the consistent application of requirements. However,  IAF Accreditation Body Members, and the Conformity Assessment Bodies (CAB) they accredit, are not under any obligation to use or comply with anything in this document. These documents are useful...

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ISO Standards Related to COVID-19 Are Available Free Temporarily

auditing resources Apr 14, 2020

Have you noticed many people and organizations are becoming superheroes to help out during this pandemic? In this unprecedented time, we can all use a little help. We want to make sure you know that ISO, the publishers of thousands of standards, is doing their part too. 

ISO standards can typically cost hundreds of dollars, but in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the International Association for Standardization (ISO) has released 28 standards free to support global efforts in dealing with the crisis. 

These standards are temporarily available in a read-only format, without a fee, from the ISO website through the links below.

Many on the list pertain to the medical devices most related to the pandemic, such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and ventilators. However, there are several standards that have universal appeal for risk management.  

Here are the five you may have an interest in downloading while there is no fee. The video above...

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Remote Auditing: How well does it work?

auditing Mar 16, 2020

With our new reality of social distancing, can internal audits be effective? Do we need to throw out the audit program schedule, or is it possible our audits might even improve? Let's explore some options to help us keep our audit programs functioning.

In reviewing hundreds of audit programs and audit reports, it is sad to say that many of these reports were superficial evaluations of the processes reviewed. Why? The auditors relied on checklists (that asked questions about having and following procedures) and mainly verbal responses (without verifying records or observing practices to confirm the effectiveness of the processes). That limits the reports to verifying conformance with the INTENT and IMPLEMENTATION of the standards without evaluating EFFECTIVENESS. We can do better!

What if our auditors changed focus to review the records and evaluate effectiveness of the processes? How would they identify what to review? Hopefully, by understanding the processes within the...

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Revitalize Your Audit Program Part 2

auditing Mar 14, 2020

This is the third in a series of blog posts covering the content of our October 2019 ASQ Audit Division conference presentation sessions: "Revitalizing Your Audit Program Using Engaging Audit Reporting Practices". This post goes behind the scenes to show the mechanics of creating charts from checklists in Word or other text document or spreadsheets.

Skip this post if you already:

  • use software for reporting findings that creates charts that are meaningful and flexible,
  • have your audit checklist in a spreadsheet set up to insert pivot tables and are confident in creating pivot tables.

Read this post if you:

  • want to know how to get from a text checklist into a format that can be charted;
  • want to confirm your spreadsheet checklist / audit protocol is properly formatted to be able to create a pivot table;
  • have no idea what a pivot table is;
  • need a quick refresher on how to make a pivot table and use it in different ways; or,
  • want guidance to export findings from your...
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Revitalize Your Audit Program Part 1 (cont'd)

auditing Feb 11, 2020

This is the second blog post covering the content of our October 2019 ASQ Audit Division conference presentation sessions: "Revitalizing Your Audit Program Using Engaging Audit Reporting Practices".

In Part 1 we introduced several factors that often have limited visibility yet impact the effectiveness of audit reporting. Part 2 focuses on types of findings and visual representation in audit reports to better engage leadership.

Problem 1:  Counting the number of nonconformities without understanding what the auditors are using as the "bar". When the bar is minimally meeting the requirements (Level 1), the management system can be very weak, yet look good to leadership due to low number of issues raised. The figure below shows this light switch mode of thinking of either right or wrong. Individual auditors or the defined audit programs may use a higher bar (Level 2-4). Without clarity of the level being used as the bar, the auditees and leadership are...

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Revitalize Your Audit Program Part 1

auditing Jan 26, 2020

The American Society for Quality Audit Division Conference was held in Orlando October 17-18th, 2019. Professionals from across North America gathered to share and learn best practices in management systems auditing. Our two-part presentation was "Revitalizing Your Audit Program Using Engaging Audit Reporting Practices".

This is the first in a series of blog posts that will cover the content of our conference presentation sessions.

Many audit closing meetings and management reviews are boring. ISO-speak has limited understanding across the workforce. It is no wonder management seems disengaged!

Our presentation showed examples of visual and written summary options for reporting audit results that tell a story and engage leadership. Imagine how powerful the act of looking across quality, environmental and health and safety management systems could be if the views were balanced! Our session also touched on the management of the audit program to ensure auditors acquire...

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