Leadership Learning / Education

Is your accounting and finance talent VUCA ready?

Recent studies point to a major challenge for organizations dealing with this rapidly changing and complex environment under the term VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous). What is the implication of this "new normal" on the accounting and finance professionals on your team?

A little over a year ago, we hosted the Maryland Public Company Global Finance and Accounting Collaboration (Thanks to a brainstorm with Andrew Page at Under Armour). That group included CFOs, Controllers and Chief Accounting and Finance Officers at many of Maryland's top public companies who identified their top challenges as:

  1. Talent Development & Learning
  2. Global Structure of Accounting and Finance
  3. Managing Risk and Innovation
  4. Need for "Insight to Action"

Over the course of a year, the group met and shared best practices around these major topics except for the last one.

The challenge of helping accounting and financial professionals deal with the rapidly changing environment and to learn how to shift to a future-focused, proactive skill set was left undone.Study after study reinforced the need for these future-focused skills, yet nowhere could we find a way to teach these critical skills. We simply did not have any readily available resources to actually develop these future-focused skills that could help accounting and finance professionals "see around corners".

See our slidedeck below with the research:


Then, we heard Daniel Burrus speak at an industry conference where he said; “The best organizations are all good at reacting and responding, and they have learned how to be agile. In addition, the best are good at being lean and they have learned how to execute at a high level. However, none of these competencies helped Blackberry, Blockbuster, Sony, HP, Dell and a host of others avoid major problems. The missing competency was the ability to anticipate the future.” After meeting with Daniel, we discovered that over the past thirty years he had developed a methodology to accurately anticipate disruptions, problems, customer needs and new opportunities. His Anticipatory Organization™ Model has changed how many of the most successful companies plan and innovate, and we learned that he had just finished designing what he calls the Anticipatory Organization™ Learning System and is in the process of licensing it to Fortune 100 companies.

We found that Daniel’s learning system includes anticipatory leadership, strategic thinking, vision, innovation, creativity, problem-solving, collaboration, and communication. Look familiar? These are almost identical to the set identified by thousands of grassroots CPAs in 2011 (see slide 4). We concluded that anticipation is the missing competency for accounting and finance professionals and that Dan had a proven learning system that could teach these skills.

All of this led us to work with Daniel to take his Anticipatory Organization™ learning system and create the Anticipatory Organization™: Accounting and Finance Edition, which was enhanced with the input of MACPAs customer co-creation team made up of a select group of CPA firms, CFOs, and controllers to create real-life examples that are built into the job aids and rapid application tools embedded in the learning system.

The learning format is innovative featuring a series of three minute, single concept videos with rapid application tools developed specifically for accounting and finance professionals. It actually saves time and increases the rate of learning and retention with on the job application.


The latest research from the Conference Board's Global Leadership Forecast 2014-2015 makes the case even more urgent as they say:

The top four skills needed to navigate a VUCA world are:

  1. Anticipating, introducing and managing change;
  2. Building consensus and commitment;
  3. Inspiring others toward a challenging future vision;
  4. Leading across generations and mobilizing people around a shared purpose.

This study measured leader readiness in four key areas from which they created an overall VUCA index:

  • Anticipating and reacting to the nature and speed of change.
  • Acting decisively without always having clear direction and certainty.
  • Navigating through complexity, chaos, and confusion.
  • Maintaining effectiveness despite constant surprises and a lack of predictability.

This is why we are so excited to bring this new program with one of the world's leading business thinkers to the accounting and finance profession.

If you want to get your accounting and finance talent VUCA ready, visit Anticipatory Organization: Accounting & Finance Edition to learn more or buy this exciting new program.

See our press release about our work with Dan Burrus here.


Thomas Hood