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FARMER as suggested New Metaphor for auditors

27 Sep

“We need to be more like farmers” 


Farmer as suggested New Metaphor for auditors


Sarens, G., Lenz, R. & Decaux, L. (2016) Insights Into Self-Images of Internal Auditors, EDPACS, 54:4, 1-18


The purpose of this article is to critically analyze self-images of internal auditors in light of the metaphors and short descriptions they give about their own role(s) in their organization. Worldwide data have been collected via a forum for internal auditors on LinkedIn where they were asked “If you were asked to write down a catch-line to sum up your role as internal auditors in your organization, what would it be?” The analysis distinguishes five clusters of self-images whereby some of these self-images could be self-inflicted pitfalls creating the wrong expectations and perceptions within the organization: (1) negative self-images that may create distance and form the basis of non-acceptance; (2) overly modest self-perceptions; (3) use of self-evident and empty words that could lead to marginalization in the eyes of internal auditors’ stakeholders; (4) overly ambitious claims, Superman-like, creating the basis for disappointment as internal auditors all too often over-promise and under-deliver. Eventually (5), we also find original and helpful self-images that point to positive characteristics and differences, which should help in creating a unique and sustainable identity, and also support internal audit’s pursuit of greater effectiveness. The analysis of how internal auditors view themselves may explain why some internal auditors are on a route to marginalization and disappointment, while others embark on a more promising path creating a positive, unique, and sustainable identity as suggested by recent studies. Ultimately, we suggest that viewing internal auditors as farmers is a promising metaphor with which to position internal audit and strengthen its value proposition.

The article: Sarens Lenz Decaux 2016



ECIIA 2019, Luxemburg

WRAPS – How to make better decisions

My presentation: WRAPS


ECIIA 2017, Basel (Switzerland)

SUCCESs – Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotional, and Stories

My presentation: SUCCESs





WRAPS – How to make better decisions #ECIIA2019

19 Sep

Many thanks for the great interest and many questions from the audience today.

I very much enjoyed that.

My PPT: ECIIA 2019_WRAPS_Dr. Rainer Lenz


18 Feb

Thank you Dr. Dominik Förschler for inviting me to contribute to your conference 2019 in Walldorf/Germany, jointly organized by SAP and your Audit Research Institute (

1 - Deckblatt

I view Internal Audit as an enabler of learning and change.

Thereby, Process Mining can be extremely helpful, especially in a familiar context, preferably with high transaction volume, the more homogeneous the better. Process Mining helps seeing what we do and recognizing what we see.

2- Let the data speak

In the world of VUCA, however, Process Mining has its limitations.

3- Three types of auditors

In the world of VUCA, the days of Jack-of-All-Trades (Know-it-all) in internal audit are counted. My mini-typology of internal auditors distinguishes three different types:

Type 1: Standing on the sidelines;

Type 2: Swimming in a calm pool;

Type 3: Swimming in the wild ocean.

To gain relevance, the internal audit profession needs more type 3 auditors, more pioneers and innovators. In the world of VUCA, checklists no longer help.


Do you agree?



“Insights Into Self-Images of Internal Auditors” is now available for free

11 Oct


“Insights Into Self-Images of Internal Auditors” is now available for free on Taylor & Francis Online:

Effective audit: inspiring learning and change

8 Jan


Audit & Risk – January/February 2016

Effective audit, in Audit & Risk, January 2016, page 7

Effective audit | inspiring change

“Internal audit agency is a rare phenomenon, and internal auditors who challenge the status quo are the exception than the rule. Inspiring others to change may be the best avenue to success.”


Becoming agents of change is one of the IIA Global’s latest mottos. “To be effective, internal auditors must possess not only sound judgment and critical thinking, they must compel others to an appropriate and sometimes urgent response.” I suggest that effective internal auditors can go further than compelling others to change, as IIA Global suggests in its most recent annual report; they can inspire that change.

The notion of internal auditors as change agents is, for the most part, aspirational. In practice, internal audit agency is currently a rare phenomenon.

However, internal auditors may become change agents on a much greater scale. In doing so, the stereotypical model may transform from being reactive, responsive and seeking to meet others’ expectations, to being an agent who drives change at the very heart of a business.

A change agent breaks with institutionalised practices and contributes to establishing new patterns. That requires particular personal characteristics and competencies including, but not limited to, liaising successfully with auditees, senior management and the board or audit committee; business acumen; leadership and communication skills; listening and influencing skills; and the ability to develop relationships. When seeking to make a difference, and create a unique and sustainable identity, inspiring others to change may become the best avenue to success.

Literature on internal audit’s effectiveness indicates a disconnect between the “demand-side perspective” – that is, stakeholders’ expectations and perceptions of internal audit – and the “supply-side perspective” – how internal auditors view themselves and their own role (Lenz and Hahn 2015). When internal audit does not have a clear supply-side perspective, the expectation gap widens.

Within organisations, Van Peursem (2004 and 2005) regarded the role of internal audit as enigmatic, meandering between the roles of watchdog and consultant. She reflects on the misunderstanding of internal audit’s role, and alerts to the dangers of a “jack of all trades” perception.

The gap between self-perception and external perception can be wide, in part due to a lack of understanding from management regarding the service internal audit actually provides. Narrowing this expectation gap increases the effectiveness of the audit.

In seeking to heighten the efficacy of the audit, it is worth acknowledging that some of an internal audit function’s shortcomings and limitations can be self-inflicted. The self-perception IAs can distance them from key stakeholders and cause avoidable problems. An overly modest self-perception (the IA acting as the servant) and the use of self-evident and empty, jargonistic language (the IA as consultant) display a lack of identity and may lead to marginalisation in the eyes of the stakeholder. Overly ambitious claims and pretending to be the expert of everything can pave the way to disappointment in the eyes of stakeholders, as internal audit over-promises and then under-delivers.

Inspiring others to change may be the more promising path. This requires a focus on strengthening existing controls and processes, thus acknowledging that there is already something good in place; bolstering the overarching organizational culture; looking for the root cause of risks: as well as asking questions rather than claiming to know it all. A healthy dose of modesty also helps.

Change agents do not alter processes or people by themselves, rather they sow the seeds that inspire change in others.


“A change agent breaks from institutionalised practices and contributes to new patterns.”


Further information:

Dr Rainer Lenz CIA, CIIA is head of corporate audit at Villeroy & Boch, a ceramic manufacturer listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. He was previously VP internal audit and VP finance at Actavis (now Allergan).



Source: Audit & Risk (2016), The magazine of the Chartered Institute of Internal Auditors, Issue 27, January/February, page 7


How You Can Influence Internal Audit’s Value Proposition to Create a Unique and Sustainable Identity

13 Oct

Joint presentation with Tracie Marquardt (CPA) at the German IIA congress in Dresden on 8th October 2015. Please see the pdf-file attached.

Villeroy & Boch New Wave Cities of the World© CHL

DIIR Kongress 2015 Marquardt_Lenz


The presentation was well received. Three lucky winners got Villeroy & Boch’s coffee mugs, from Tokyo, Rio, and from New York.