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The Davies Report Summer 2017 - working at a scale and pace worthy of our times

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Are you working at a scale and pace worthy of our times?

What we’ve been up to lately

As signposted in our last bulletin we have been shifting our focus to trying to help as many organisations as possible (see more on that in our 2017 manifesto below).

The result of this is that Q4 2016 was our biggest on record.  The number of clients we are working with has increased exponentially.  We have our fingers in more pies and are joining more dots than ever before. This propels us towards our mission to systemically lift the standard of risk and assurance leadership and governance right across this wide brown land that we call home.

Here’s a few things we’ve been doing in the run up to Christmas.

  • Established a new Risk Management and Audit Committee, acting as its inaugural chairman, working closely with the CEO and executive team.

  • Updated our internal audit excellence model and used it to run a strategy process for Australia’s largest mutual.

  • Agreed the strategy, approach and design for a new internal audit function for a rapidly growing ASX company.

  • Coached and mentored the executive team of a commercial government agency through intensive risk deep dives and mock risk committee sessions.

  • Coached and mentored heads of audit and risk in large listed, education and complex government delivery organisations.

  • Drove reforms in the internal audit and risk processes for a large hospital and healthcare organisation

  • Deconstructed a long-standing business model and stepped the organisation’s board through strategic options for future delivery including disintermediation, reintermediation and turnaround

  • Helped refresh the risk reporting for several organisations (listed, utilities, government)

  • Put succession planning in place and provided smooth transition for a high profile not for profit organisation.

Needless to say its been busy, and 2017 is shaping up in a similar way. 

The reason we share all of this is not as a self-promotion exercise, although it may come across that way. We share our work profiles for two reasons:

  • To give you a sense of what initiatives are being driven by your peers right now

  • So you can choose to leverage this work for your own gain.

If you’re working on any of these areas and would like to move up a notch, contact us and book a time to chat.

2017 Manifesto - working at a scale and pace worthy of our times

“It takes 10 years to be an overnight success.” Well known phrase in the music business.

This marks our 10th year in business.

Our mission has remained fairly constant over the years: To lift the standard of risk and assurance across Australia, and make the world a better place as a result.

They say in the music business that it takes ten years to become an overnight success.  For those of you who are my age this holds true for any Australian band that you know and love.  In short, the first 10 years is spent honing your craft. After that is when big things happen.

This year we’re sharpening our focus slightly with the following framing: We work at a scale and pace worthy of the challenges of our times.

As alluded to in our last bulletin, we went through a shift in our thinking about how we deliver our work to make a greater impact. Sure there’s good money in traditional consulting, but it just doesn’t make a big enough dent in the universe that is worthy of the challenges and opportunities of our times. After all, what drives us and always has is systemic change that delivers profound outcomes to lots and lots of people. This is what our work has always been about, irrespective of role.

And although the line is a bit tired it does hold true – there has never been a more exciting time full of possibilities than right now.

In our experience, risk and assurance is a key enabler.  If you get it right, amazing things are possible.  But without it, amazingly bad things can happen too.  But alas, the lived experience for many of risk and assurance is something other than great.  It’s time to change this, and to rise the tide for all boats.

This year we will be systematically attempting to address a number of problems and opportunities in risk and assurance and create step change that ripples across all sectors.  We invite you to be part of this select group that is the change we want to see in the world.

2017 Initiative 1: Risk reporting

The first cab off the rank is risk reporting. 

Let’s face it, a lot of risk reporting is awful.

It doesn’t generate the right discussions, particularly at the governance and executive layers. 

And stakeholders don’t like it, but don’t know what good looks like so they suffer with it.  Report readers and preparers miss each other.

This is something we want to address.  Systemically.  Across the entire spectrum of Australian organisations.  This year.

Contact us for details - places are limited.

Where are you on the curve?

Our world-view in the risk and assurance space is that these functions are capable of great things that enable others to do even greater things.  But this is not the lived experience of many. 

It seems every man and his dog has a maturity model these days. 

The problem we find is that maturity doesn’t tell you what great looks like, it only tells you what mature looks like. A mature repeatable process can be important, but if the functions aren’t relevant and driving significant impact then they can squeeze the life and soul out of an organisation. Hardly a thing to aspire to.

We are stakeholder and outcomes driven and have developed excellence models for both internal audit and risk management which focus on making a difference and not just going through the motions.

While maturity models are rated 1-5 they’re often benign – hardly worth getting excited about and may miss stakeholder needs and expectations.  Our contention is that most maturity models we’ve seen (and we’ve seen many) could be better described as mediocrity models – that focus on the quality of the building materials rather than the lived experience of the people using the building.  No wonder users struggle.

Our internal audit excellence model uses the school grading system of A to F, and as a guide, compliance with the IIA Standards is probably a C at best. So if you just received a perfect score on your recent quality review there’s probably a long way to go.  It’s deliberately controversial to drive the right outcomes.

Perhaps more controversial is the risk excellence model with a three point scale - “good, bad and ugly”. 

Both stimulate thinking and a discussion on where to direct efforts, and if you’re in a leadership role of these functions either directly or with oversight they’re well worth a look.

If you’d like to know where you are at, please get in touch.

Muir Watson joins the team


Other than our expert panel who are the leaders in our field worldwide, its rare these days that we add people to our team.  Muir is one of those exceptions.

Muir recently wrapped up as Chief Risk Officer of NBN Co. Immediately before that he was CRO of Medibank Private and prior to that Brambles.

I’ve known and worked with Muir on off for more than 10 years and it’s great to be working together again.

Muir is a great guy with a big smile and an occasionally indecipherable Scottish accent. His experience and pragmatism are immense.

Muir will be co-leading the risk reporting initiative which will take this initiative to a different place.

He’ll be known to many of our readers, and some of you may have wanted to work with him but haven’t had the chance. This is a rare opportunity, get in touch before his dance card gets too full.

Getting in touch is even easier - Never play phone tag again

Life’s too short to play phone tag.

In order to make it even easier for our clients to get in touch, we’ve implemented the Calendly system.  You can now book a 30 minute phone consult with Todd in just a few clicks in the same way as you might do for a gym or specialist medical appointment. We’ve piloted it with a number of our clients and they’ve found it quick, easy, convenient (and also available 24/7).  Just follow the link and follow the prompts to save all that messing around with phone tag. It even manages the .ics invites for both of us.   

And of course if you like making a time the old fashioned way, Dolores is here to help.  Dolores works with us Monday, Wednesday and Thursdays until 2pm AET and our virtual team will help out when she’s not in.  

Contact us for details.

Help us make a difference

Could this newsletter help your team, stakeholders or colleagues? Please pass it on and help us in our mission to achieve greatness across this wide brown land.

More importantly, get involved.  Join us on the risk reporting initiative or one of or other programs during the year. Or just assess yourself against our models. The key is to take action. Let us know what is a priority for you this year.

Not in Australia?  This doesn’t mean we can’t work with you. Feel free to get in touch.