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 (anonymous)
  • Exercise: using a maturity model with the “Farbest” executive team

Focus Areas
  • Exercise: Focus areas identified by the professional guidance and how these focus areas might be assessed
  • Observable Indicators of a Healthy or Toxic Culture
  • “Top Tips: Making Culture Part of Your Audit DNA”
  • Metrics that give perspective on the risk culture
  • Example of using metrics
  • A working inventory of soft controls and cultural attributes
Approaches Being Used Today
  • Considerations for scope, execution, reporting, and staffing
  • How 11 audit departments are auditing culture
  • Another possible approach
  • 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, Vectren and ING evaluate aspects of culture without formal tools
  • Bringing cultural issues into the risk assessment
  • Exercise: First audit of Farbest’s mortgage subsidiary
  • Guidelines for evaluating risk culture during audit projects without formal tools
  • Three audit project surveys: 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)
  • 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
  • Two structured interview guides, one for executives, one to evaluate the culture of compliance
  • Guidelines for entity-wide structured interviews
  • How to assess, enhance, and use an existing entity-wide employee survey
  • Four entity-wide surveys: classic survey used within overall culture assessment survey used by many organizations, Lennox survey with very simple language, British Standards Board used within overall culture assessment, 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