Words of Wisdom

In life, we have to choose between the jeans and the cookie jar. Liz Hurley chose the jeans and I chose the cookie jar

~ Nigella Lawson....(on women's body image and her own voluptuous body)

Friday, April 30, 2010

How to torture like an Ancient Torture Device

Have any of you gone to any of those exhibitions of ancient torture devices? I have. TWICE. One of the items on display was a metal chair that one was supposed to be strapped buck naked onto then had the fire lit up underneath it.Since the chair's material is highly heat-conductive, you would be essentially grilled alive. Worse thing is, that chair was supposed to only torture you not kill you. In that situation though, you would be as good as dead.

That was how I felt yesterday as I was put on a hot seat. Really really hot. The highly competent people doing the Lab assessment ISO/IEC 17025 came to evaluate us. What I went through was the mental equivalent of the medieval hot seat.

As I did the recent `internal audit' on Quality Management area, I had to go through an `evaluation' by this lady who was the Lead Auditor. I will not reveal her name as she is a highly respected figure in this field in our country and overseas. It was impossible not to have admiration for this woman for her intelligence and spot-on method of getting to the roots of our problems. Man, did she put me on a grill! Yes, she grilled me. Really really grilled me!

I can't describe how humiliated I was when she asked me to explain some of the things I wrote down in my Audit notes when I couldn't answer a lot of her questions.

"What do you understand an improvement is?"
"How did you as an Auditor draw a conclusion based on this?"
"Did you check the implementation or just simply acknowledge such and such documents exist?"
"Did you get what I mean?"
"Can you see the overall picture?"
"This wasn't that long time ago. So, you should be able to remember"
"Look at this document, can you see the problem? The fundamental problem?"
"See, there is a change in the procedure. So, the policy has changed. Have you, in fact, created more ways for things to go looser?"
"By doing this, you are making things ambiguous...."
"Overall, I'm not going to sugar-coat anything, the system is very weak"

Nothing was a blurry vision to me. It was just blank. Blank space. Our Quality Manager said to me not to panic. No, this was not a panicky situation. My mind just went blank. That was it. I never filled in anything into it since last year as a matter of fact. This is beyond humiliation.

These are some of the things that can be summed up on my competency (or lack thereof):

1.  I was immatured enough to write the very childish statement "Not yet" instead of "Not applicable" in my Audit notes.

2.  Apparently, I couldn't tell the difference between an "adequacy Audit" and a "compliance Audit". She said all I did was skimming on the surface without looking at the overall picture of the system.

3.  I didn't check the implementation at all. Just agreeing to everything based on paperwork. She said I was influenced by the Auditee.

4.  I relied too much on a "Yes/No" type Checksheet.

5.  What on EARTH is "anti-clockwise measurement of a Torque Wrench"? Worse is, I wrote that down in my Audit notes and didn't even bother to understand what it is.

6.  I have "inadequate understanding of the Accreditation Bodies' Policies" because my "Audit findings on the Policy series were inadequately documented".

7.  I have the "Parrot Syndrome". You can teach a parrot to recite what you say but it doesn't necessarily understand what you say. So, I was, most of the time copying what the auditees said without really understanding what their work was all about.

8.  Since everyone is unclear about identifying which areas to improve, she said improving the Internal Auditor is one area we can all work on. Why do I have this feeling that she was talking about me? I'm a weak spot in the system that needs to be strengthened, people :-(

So, below is my response:

1.  Yes, Ma'am. You are right.
2.  With everything that went on at work for the past several months, I was not at all in the mood of learning or giving my all to my job. My friends leaving, my useless management, my paltry salary increase, my family health problems. I was and still am more keen to forget everything instead.
3.  Yes, I believed everything the Auditees said to me because they are the better-trained ones.
4.  Yes, I just recorded everything simply to finish the assignment instead of delving into the core functions of the Lab.
5.  I wish I were heartless or at least separate professionalism from feeling sorry towards my friends in the Lab team.

Being a professional that she is, the lady did point out that our Group really did have selected the right persons as Internal Auditors as we are actually able to pick up problems that we see. All we need (what I need) is to polish up our (my)skill and further understand the requirements and the importance of looking at things as one overall picture.

Now I can tell you an additional reason why I went blank yesterday. I have to admit that during the Q&A session, I was there as my body only. My mind was totally somewhere else.....with a bunch of old geezers.....namely......Deep Purple!

Before going into the meeting room, I printed out some info on the upcoming Deep Purple concert at Arena of Stars, Genting Highlands on 16th May 2010. I was checking about any possibility of me going such as the available ticket and hotel room. The ticket I can afford is for seats furthest from the stage near the doors. Every hotel on that land was not available. It's useless to go to a night event there with no accommodation. This is not like the Capital City where you can simply get a cab and check into any of the many hotels available. Hotels on the highlands are limited. The only one available is the MYR1000+ per night. There is one affordable hotel available but it's at the foot of the mountains which requires you to take the Cable car. I don't know when the last Cable car leaves the centre of the highlands. Besides, this hotel costs more than the affordable ones on the highlands. It's just not worth it. It's even more not worth it now that Ritchie Blackmore, my "first love", is not in the band anymore.

So, with my mind meandering over the Purple geezers and the highlands plus my obvious "rock star obsession", I think you have a pretty clear idea of where I was. This Soldier of Fortune was speeding on the Highway Star. Before she realized, she was already grilled and was blowing it all up like Smoke on the Water.

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