Making an ass of your DD

I’m not a big fan of motivational observations like “there’s no i in team” or  “believe you can and you’re halfway there”, particularly when they’re superimposed on soft-focus photos of dolphins or sunsets or dolphins in the sunset for extra impact, but I am rather fond of the reminder that “assume makes an ass of u and me”.  And this is because assumptions are responsible for so many due diligence failings.

Interestingly, this is one area in which the smaller the firm concerned, the less of a problem it is.  In small firms, people tend not to assume that someone else has done something.  (This reaches its apotheosis with the one-person business, like mine: I know for certain that if I haven’t done something, it hasn’t been done.)  But as soon as work is shared out among different people – or different teams, or different offices, or even different countries – it creates wiggle room for people to assume.  “I didn’t chase for that document; I assumed Dave in compliance was doing it.”  “I didn’t get a copy of their passport,” replies Dave, “I assumed that because Alison knew them personally, she had done it.”  As for Alison, “I didn’t ask to see their passport; I assumed that because I had introduced them personally, my signature on the take-on form would be sufficient.”

I should clarify that I am not for one moment saying that you can’t rely on colleagues to do their job – only that you shouldn’t assume that they have.  Likewise, you shouldn’t assume that what you’re doing is sufficient to meet the requirements of your in-house procedures (which are a distillation of what the regulator and legislation expect you to do).  Check that whatever needs doing has been done, or chased, or risk-rated, or verified, or monitored, so that nothing falls through the cracks.  It’s why the surgeon always asks the anaesthetist to confirm out loud that the patient is ready, rather than simply assuming from the drowsy look of things that he can start sawing away…

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4 Responses to Making an ass of your DD

  1. Nya says:

    You are right in what you say! Never assume that the work has been done..

    • Welcome to the blog, Nya – glad you agree. You’d be amazed how often I hear, “But we thought that the other jurisdiction/company/department/person had done it”…
      Best wishes from Susan

  2. Daphne says:

    Spot on Sarah. I learned as a kid in my twenties never to assume but to DYOR (Do Your Own Research) and it has stood me in very good stead ever since.

    • Dear Daphne
      Welcome to the blog. That’s a very good standard to adopt – and well done for giving it the acronym obligatory in the world of compliance!
      Please do keep reading and commenting.
      Best wishes from Susan

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