Change is good – but whatever happened to stability? How auditing can help.

By: Auditor Training Online | Posted 28 Sep 2018

Author: Jackie Stapleton


People have made their careers out of change; there are change agents, change managers, change consultants and we have the management of change processes, policies, and procedures.   We also have quotes such as, “the only constant is change” by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus.

But who benefits from all this change, and is it all warranted? Certainly, some change is beneficial, I doubt many of us want to return to the days of no washing machines, of faxes rather than email, or even having to get around on a horse and cart - however romantic it may seem.

If, though, we think of the accident victim going into hospital – what is the first thing the doctors do? The answer is, “stabilise the patient”, because if they are not stable how do we know if we are making them better?

Think about the last issue in your workplace, it may have been an incident, a near miss, a non-conformance, or just an opportunity for improvement. I expect in many cases the required corrective action was a change in the procedure, to add a few more words, to put in some additional steps.

But what if the existing procedure wasn’t being adhered to? Why would adding some extra steps to it all of a sudden make people follow it?

Often the procedure or process itself is fine; it’s just that people have created their own work- arounds, their own shortcuts – they just miss out a few steps because they can. Sometimes, for example, shift A might do the task in a slightly different way to shift B. Why? Just because over time some slippage has occurred, perhaps a few Chinese whispers so to speak. In these cases, the last thing we need to do is to write more, we just need some stability and some consistency. How do we find out where these differences are, where team 1 does an activity slightly different to team 2? Or where one office is performing differently to another office.

...This is where the audit process can help. If we audit both team 1 and team 2, or shift A and shift B, we the auditor should be able to help identify the areas where the teams differ. Then by identifying these differences, we can help stabilise the process before an incident or nonconformance occurs.

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