Almost everybody I meet these days, born after the tumultuous early 1960’s, seems to never have heard of Dag Hammarskjöld. And that’s a shame.

A sharp thinker from Sweden, he was nominated to lead the United Nations because he was considered “mostly harmless” by the permanent members of the Security Council. Elected on April Fools Day, he believed that it was all some bad joke being played upon him.

What the world didn’t know was that, hiding in the shell of an “aristo-bureaucrat” and economist, was a sharp philosopher who had been keeping a daily diary of his thoughts since he was 25. One of his most famous quotes is this one:

Never, for the sake of peace and quiet, deny your own experience or convictions.

After talking to some of my friends across the industry, it is clear that this lesson has generally been left by the side of the road. How many times are we faced with a problem, one where we formulate a solution to solve the issue, and present it to management, and they reply with one of these:

  • “If you can stick with this obsolete methodology (or software) for another year, we’ll be able to make some real change around here! I’m serious!”
  • “People around here will like you a lot better if you stop constantly pushing for that Continual Improvement stuff you’re always talking about. Who has time to revisit what’s been worked out already?”
  • “Money’s tight – if we buy that new stuff, we may just be forced to let one or two people go to afford it.”
  • “Look, the auditors never look at this part of the system. Until somebody on The Board makes us change, we’re staying put.”
  • “Consulting money isn’t figured into our budgets. You’re either going to have to live with things the way they are, or you’re going to have to fix it on your own time.”
  • “How come you’re always complaining about things? It’s like nothing is ever good enough for you…”

When faced with all of this negativism, this is the time to persevere. Keep pushing through until a solution to the problem is accepted and implemented. Never be the person who has to deny their own experiences just to maintain the peace and quiet of the situation.

From experience, I can say that when you present your case to the right person, and in the right manner, all sorts of positive change can be effected. Keep working at it and you’ll be pleasantly surprised when you’re suddenly the hero who came up with a workable solution.

-Jeffrey Bromberger, Consultant & CISA, CRISC

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