Change / transformation Leadership Learning / Education

How to Accelerate Growth and Innovation in Your Firm

How can we achieve 'escape velocity' in our organizations to accelerate growth, innovation and high performance in an era of massive change and disruption?

We are facing an interesting paradox today. We are experiencing a slow or no-growth economy and an exponentially fast-changing competitive landscape fueled by a perfect storm of hard trends -- technological change, demographic shifts, and increasing regulations. Things are moving exponentially fast and many are finding it harder and harder to keep up. The top issues facing CPAs, accounting and finance professionals are:

  1. not enough time.
  2. being reactive versus proactive, and
  3. doing more with less.

This has created what Geoffrey Moore calls 'the pull of the past', the organizational equivalent of gravitational pull or inertia that makes change and innovation even harder inside organizations. The faster you go, the farther ahead you have to look. Study after study has told us what we need to be successful in this fast future. New skills are needed and organizations (including CPA firms and accounting and finance organizations) need to retool their workforces. In fact, the latest research on competencies and skills all point to a combination of the same five critical competencies:

  1. Strategic and critical thinking.
  2. Communication.
  3. Anticipating and serving evolving needs.
  4. Inspiring and motivating others.
  5. Collaboration and mobilizing consensus.

These skills are not limited to just accounting and finance. The Conference Board's report Ready Now Leaders - Global Leadership Forecast 2014-2015 puts the exclamation point on these skills by stating that less than two thirds of global leaders are confident their people are capable of leading in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world.


That research went on to identify the top four skills for preparedness to deal with VUCA challenges as:

  1. Managing and introducing change.
  2. Building consensus and commitment.
  3. Inspiring others toward a challenging future vision.
  4. Leading across generations.

Organizations with these skill sets were found to be significantly more profitable and have a stronger leadership bench than those without VUCA ready skills.

Now what?

Our involvement with the AICPA Future of Learning task force led us to seek out new methods and formats of learning that will allow more effective skill development in less time.

We found a top global futurist, Daniel Burrus, who had discovered the top missing competency in global companies is being anticipatory. He was working on an innovative approach to build these VUCA-ready skills in a learning system that involved many of the latest future of learning concepts from the AICPA's work. We began to work with him and added a co-creation group of CPAs, CFOs, Controllers and Partners in firms to customize this learning system specifically for accounting and finance professionals. The result is The Anticipatory Organization: Accounting and Finance Edition. Since our launch in November, the learning system has been recognized as a Top Product for 2016 by Accounting Today Magazine in the Learning Category.

The essence of this learning system lies in the integration of nano-learning -- short two-to-three-minute single-concept videos (28 lessons across four modules - details here), rapid application tools, a series of exercises designed to apply the concepts directly to the job, and a series of job aids and resources to support performance after the learning is complete, all in a mobile-friendly and self-directed e-learning format. The learning is designed to take eight to 12 hours at a pace of one or two hours per week and can be enhanced with team collaboration sessions to create an 'anticipatory culture' and develop a shared language that can benefit the organization for years.

We think this innovative learning approach can help accounting firms and organizations achieve escape velocity and break the gravitational pull of the past to move their people into a new mindset of growth, innovation and high performance in these rapidly changing VUCA times.

For information on bringing The Anticipatory Organization to your organization or team, contact Pam Devine, BLI Director of Learning and Development ( p:443-632-2321).

More Resources:

Are You Leading the transformation of Finance and Accounting?

Anticipation: The Missing Competency for CPAs, Finance and Accounting Professionals

The CPA Conversation with Daniel Burrus (Global Futurist) on Anticipation as a Strategic Skill


Thomas Hood