Auditing: Teach a Man to Think ….

I’m sure we’ve all heard the following phrase before

Give a man a fish and feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and feed him for life

Obviously it tries to summarise the principle that having a capability enables a person to be self sufficient. Just lately I’ve been thinking about auditing in exactly the same way. It may seem an obvious concept, but too often I see arguments in professional discussion groups that are simply not thought through. I see people trying to support a point by quoting facts, definitions, clause requirements and so on, often so far out of context it makes my mind boggle. People who just can’t seem to rationalise situations and circumstances – what made them that way?

Lately the IRCA has made some attempt to add weight to the development of thought processes and abilities in their course criteria. That means less weighting on memorising facts and definitions, and more scenario based testing. I think maybe the old systems are at least partly to blame for the levels of unconscious incompetence that I see too regularly. The old courses, and the old papers tested memory, and that is useful but only up to a point, because what good is factual knowledge without the ability to apply it? And can we even call factual knowledge that is not really understood knowledge at all?

I can only see the problem getting worse before it gets better, in QMS auditing at least. ISO 9001:2015 appears to be incorporating some quite reasonable aspects of context and management system flexibility. Good in one respect, but a nightmare for an auditor who can only audit by numbers. I’ll certainly be interested to see what will be the result of the new standard in the hands of incompetents, because I see that as being an inevitable outcome.

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