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Anticipation as a skill: What does it look like?

We’ve talked quite a bit in past shows about this notion of “anticipation,” as if it’s a skill or competency that you can learn – and it is. But we haven’t spent a lot of time talking about how how you can learn to anticipate.

So how can you become more anticipatory? How can you train yourself to look for future trends and spot the opportunities those trends provide, and then take advantage of those opportunities before your competition does?

Joining the show again to help us do all of that this week is Tom Hood, president and CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs. Tom has mastered the art of anticipation by working side-by-side with the person who wrote the book on the subject, quite literally: Daniel Burrus, a world renowned futurist, author of The Anticipatory Organization and Flash Foresight, and creator of a learning system called The Anticipatory Organization that teaches people how to master this crucial skill.

In this conversation, we cover:

  • How you can get ahead when change is accelerating.
  • Firms that are already creating a culture of anticipation.
  • How you can become more anticipatory in just one hour a week.

Listen to our conversation here.

 

The algorithmic leader
Anticipation is a critical skill to master when things are moving as fast as they are today, and things aren’t going to start moving any slower in the future – so we have to move fast if we don’t want to fall behind.

There’s a new book by another renowned futurist, Mike Walsh, titled The Algorithmic Leader: How to Be Smart When Machines Are Smarter Than You, and he suggests we need to reframe our mindset.

“Rather than wondering if your job will disappear, ask yourself, ‘What is the new job inside my old one?’” Walsh writes. For accounting and finance professionals, that means considering how we need to evolve in order to add greater value as the machines do more and more of the repetitive tasks that we traditionally spend a lot of time on.

Here’s a cool example of anticipation in action. Walsh writes:

“Before the crash, the U.S. cash equities trading desk at Goldman Sachs’s New York headquarters employed 600 traders. Today there are just two. Suddenly, with those 600 traders gone, there were a lot of empty desks. So Goldman decided to use that available real estate to house small groups of internal technology startups created to leverage data and machine learning.

“An interesting example of one of those startups is Marcus, a retail bank named after the founder of Goldman Sachs. Marcus was initially created to help consumers consolidate their credit card balances. It is entirely run by software, with no human intervention, and was launched in under a year. In its first 18 months of operation, it issued $3 billion in new consumer loans. The interesting part of the story is that companies like Marcus, designed to operate mainly with automation and algorithms, have allowed Goldman Sachs to move into consumer finance, something that was previously quite unthinkable given its focus on investment banking.”

That’s an example of a new job within an old one — and one that’s done mainly by machines and algorithms.

And if technology is going to continue to advance this quickly — and it is — then we have to start getting comfortable with looking ahead more than we look back.

Luckily, there are people out there who are helping us become more anticipatory. One of them is Daniel Burrus, who we interviewed in the very first episode of “Future-Proof.” Another is our guest, Tom Hood, and Tom and the Maryland Association of CPAs are working with Daniel Burrus to bring a groundbreaking new tool to our profession.

It’s called The Anticipatory Organization: Accounting and Finance Edition, which is designed to teach us how to be more future-ready. And it works. A number of firms and organizations across the country are using it to ramp up the future-readiness of their teams, and they say it’s transforming how they work and how they serve their clients.

We’ll feature some of the people who have already put this tool into action in the coming weeks, to give you an idea of what anticipation looks like in action, but for now, you can learn more at BLIonline.org/AO and MACPA.org/future-learning.

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