Auditing Culture:
Challenges and Proven Techniques

What you will gain from this seminar:

  • Be exposed to the latest thinking and guidance on evaluating culture
  • Learn how nine leading organizations from various industries are evaluating culture
  • Take away 13 proven evaluation tools/techniques and 12 audit report comments on cultural issues
  • Work through hands-on exercises in evaluating elements of culture
  • See examples of audit report comments on weaknesses in the culture

Who should attend:
  • CAE’s, audit managers and directors, experienced auditors, anyone with an interest in evaluating the culture


Two-Day Seminar Outline

Why Audit Culture?

  • Culture is a growing concern for internal audit’s stakeholders
  • What our Standards and the real world say

Challenges, Potential Pitfalls, Keys to Success
  • Cultural trade-offs
  • Challenges: complexity and subjectivity of culture, resistance of key players, other
  • Keys to success
  • Executive workshop using a maturity model: Aquila, Inc.
  • Exercise: using a maturity model with the “Farbest” executive team

Focus Areas
  • Focus areas identified by the professional guidance and how these focus areas might be assessed
  • Metrics that give perspective on the risk culture
  • Techniques (i.e., controls) to foster the desired culture
  • A working inventory of soft controls and cultural attributes

Approaches and Techniques
  • Tips for scope, execution, reporting, and staffing
  • How nine audit departments – five in financial services, one each in healthcare, manufacturing, travel, and public sector – are auditing culture
  • Example: Vectren Corporation’s audit of executive leadership team’s behavior
  • Other possible approaches
  • Overview of evaluation techniques being used today

Audit Project Evaluation Techniques

  • Key to success: participative auditing
  • Five essential principles for evaluating aspects of culture during audit projects
  • How Allina Health, Securian, and ING evaluate aspects of culture without formal tools
  • Bringing cultural issues into the risk assessment
  • Guidelines for evaluating risk culture during audit projects without formal tools
  • Exercise: First audit of Farbest’s mortgage subsidiary
  • Proven evaluation tools: audit project surveys used by the University of Minnesota (results published in every audit report), Precision Drilling (results left with local management), and Lowes (survey developed for a specific audit, IT project management)
  • Exercise: interpret and follow up on survey responses
  • Guidelines for developing and administering audit project surveys
  • Using a combination of techniques: a Fortune 500 company
  • Exercise: “connect the dots” to identify cultural issues from a series of Farbest Mortgage audit projects
Entity-Wide Evaluation Techniques
  • Proven evaluation tools: structured interview guides used by two organizations, one for executives, one to evaluate the culture of compliance
  • Guidelines for entity-wide structured interviews
  • How to evaluate, improve and use an existing entity-wide employee survey
  • Proven evaluation tools: classic entity-wide employee survey used by many organizations, Lennox survey with very simple language; Robeco's method for developing survey content
  • Exercise: Develop entity-wide survey questions
  • Exercise: interpret and follow up on survey responses
  • Guidelines for developing, advising, assessing and using entity-wide surveys
  • Advantages/disadvantages of each cultural evaluation technique

Reporting Cultural Issues

  • Key to success: participative auditing
  • Audit report techniques that lower the defensiveness of local management
  • Audit rating systems that include “management awareness of risk”
  • Guidelines and keys to success
  • Audit report comments on cultural issues: four based on surveys, seven from a combination of techniques, one entire report