Creating the future-ready firm at the Digital CPA Conference

What does it mean to be a ‘future ready’ firm?

A recent survey found that 76 percent of business owners said their CPA firms are not proactive. That same survey found that delivering reactive services was the top reason businesses switched accounting firms. In other words, they were not proactive, future-ready, trusted advisors.

Future-ready = anticipatory
According to research by CPA.com, future-ready is the capacity to be anticipatory (aware, predictive, and adaptive) of emerging technology and trends in business, demographics, and the social environment that impact your organization and industry.

Being anticipatory is the ability to identify opportunities before your competition, to identify customer needs before they have them, to identify disruptions before they disrupt and problems before you have them.

So how do firms become future-ready? What are the benefits?

Future-ready firms: Creating anticipatory cultures
The executives of four firms (pictured from left: Joey Havens, executive partner of Horne, LLP; Jeff Wald, CEO of K-Coe Isom; Tom Hood, CEO of the Maryland Association of CPAs and the Business Learning Institute; and Rich Stang, managing partner of DeLeon and Stang) met during a panel discussion at the Digital CPA Conference in Las Vegas to talk about their journey in implementing The Anticipatory Organization™: Finance and Accounting Edition (or AOAF) learning system to create proactive, future-ready cultures.

Collectively, these pathfinders ran more than 600 accounting professionals through the learning system, with impressive results. They reported benefits like these:

  • Increased successful innovation projects,
  • A common language of anticipation and future-thinking,
  • A shift in mindset to future thinking and opportunities,
  • Increased acceptance and readiness for change, and
  • New abilities to have proactive, future-focused conversations with clients

Here are some examples of successful innovation projects they have implemented since completing the AOAF learning system:

  1. An app for disaster recovery with government clients
  2. A new cyber-security initiative
  3. An innovative learning program
  4. “Skipping” a major system implementation
  5. A proactive retail franchise analysis
  6. Asking clients about their future views.

The secret to their success lies in two areas — leadership and culture. The top executives of all four organizations led the implementation of this learning with support by learning and / or administrative team members. All four said the biggest impact was on the mindset of their teams. Changing their teams’ mindset to be more proactive and future-focused, combined with the new language of the “anticipatory organization,” changed the conversations among their team members. Conversation and communication with this new mindset leads to a culture shift that they all experienced. If you can change your team’s mindset and language, you can change results and, ultimately, your culture.


Future-ready firms: What’s next?
Panel members agreed that they had just scratched the surface and are looking forward to diving deeper into the learning principles. Their goal is to make those principles more of a habit across their organizations. Using the AOAF “Post-Learning Guide,” they intend to pick key concepts like the “Time-Travel Audit” or “Collaborating Versus Cooperating” and ask groups to apply them inside their organization and with selected clients. One firms is using the hard trends and opportunities framework to create industry-specific trends to provide insights and value to their clients and prospects.

Mindset, skillset, toolset
The conclusion from these pathfinders is that the secret to creating a culture of proactive business advisors is that you need to change the mindset, build the skillset and common language, and provide the toolset of anticipatory concepts, worksheets, and frameworks over a consistent and long-term timeframe. The beauty of this system is that it does that in short bursts of time; one hour per week is recommended over a three- to four-month period.

Want to learn how to bring The Anticipatory Organization™: Accounting and Finance Edition to your firm or company? Check out our website and product overview or contact our Custom Learning Team at info@blionline.org  or (888) 481-3500 to schedule a demo and pricing information.

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