I know I've drawn a number of posts from Jim Collins' Good to Great, however I think it is one of the most thought provoking books I've read in a long time. I want to revisit the concept he calls Confronting the Brutal Facts. Collins posits that one of the key characteristics of the organizations that were able to make the leap from Good to Great was that they were able to confront the brutal facts.
Back in March, I wrote a post about how companies seem filled with people who want things spun rather than being willing to face the brutal facts. At that time I was working as a quality analyst and had contact with some peers in other organizations who were able to validate my perceptions based on their own experiences.
I'm now an internal auditor for the same company, which brings this whole issue home again. Yet I now begin to recognize the critical nature of the duality inherent in what Collins calls the Stockdale paradox. The Stockdale paradox is based on the story of Admiral Jim Stockdale. Stockdale was captured in the Vietnam War, and was tortured numerous times during his incarceration. He never deluded himself with false hope, yet he retained a faith that he would survive. That faith, coupled with the stark acceptance of reality allowed him to survive the horror in which he found himself. It also allowed him to lead others in a way that enabled them to survive as well.
So what does that have to do with auditing? I think a key characteristic needed to be a successful auditor is to face the realities I find as I audit. But I also have to retain the faith that all the problems will be overcome and we will make this a truly great organization.
I will confront the Brutal Facts so that I can help build the company to be all it can be.