Uncertainty. The capital markets don’t like it, nor do most professionals or their clients. The current talent market, new technology, interest from private equity and now The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) continue to bring more uncertainty to our profession.
While resiliency is important, adaptability is required to move forward into new opportunities. Professionals and firms who have an updated vision and plan have an advantage. While this is a leadership responsibility, firm leaders should delegate tasks to a project or process manager to ensure timely results. The following provides perspective.
Amanda Wilkie holds multiple certifications in project management, process management and technology. She understands the accounting profession and clarified the differences between engagement, project and process managers in her recent article, Project Management, Engagement Management & Process Management. Many of the skills are similar, but the focus differs. Project managers tend to focus on projects with a beginning and end, while process managers concentrate on processes, workflow and continuous improvement. Engagement managers are more client-focused, aiming to maximize client satisfaction and the firm’s revenue and profitability. The firm can outsource some tasks while automating other processes and workflows.
All organizations and professions are being challenged. With challenges come opportunities that require different mindsets. Your approach impacts you and your firm in the necessary time, money and relationships investments. Adaptability requires a multidimensional approach that goes beyond coping and leads to personal growth.
Perhaps this is one of the reasons people are leaving the profession. Has your personal vision changed over the past two years? Has your firm’s vision changed? Have you taken the time to think, draft and communicate these visions? Or have you been too busy just coping and surviving? Many people have been making that assessment. Shouldn’t you?
Some essential factors influencing your thinking are age, location, experiences, unique abilities and access to resources. The following table provides one or more examples in the areas of leadership, talent, technology, processes and growth. We refer to these as the five pillars, and when integrated, firms have an advantage, regardless of size. The purpose of the table is to get you thinking about your situation and your firm’s future.
The format simplifies, improves communications, stimulates thinking and promotes collaboration. You should also establish priorities, boundaries, responsibilities and accountability to achieve timely results.
This is a simplified model intended to stimulate thinking and discussion. Don’t procrastinate—act now! Many firm leaders will ask, “why is this important, and how do we ‘transform’ to avoid returning to the “status quo?” This is where mindsets and knee-jerk reactions differ.
Dan Sullivan, founder of Strategic CoachÒ states, “the formula to achieve bigger goals through accelerating teamwork is WHO, NOT HOW.” Check out his recent book by that title. You should involve internal and external “whos” to accelerate and ensure success.
If you are still skeptical, I suggest reading a recent McKinsey article: Future proof: Solving the ‘adaptability paradox’ for the long term. A summary of McKinsey’s five ways leaders can invest in adaptability to prepare for a fast-paced and uncertain future are:
Practice well-being as a foundational skill
Make purpose your North Star and define your nonnegotiables
Experience the world through an adaptability lens
Build deep and more diverse connections
Make it safe to learn
Many firms become paralyzed due to the complexity, multiple visions and competition for limited resources. Now is the time to update your vision and plan. If done correctly, it will help retain and attract the best talent and clients. Please remember that this is not a natural skill and must be nurtured. Think-Plan-Grow.
L. Gary Boomer, Visionary & Strategist of Boomer Consulting, Inc., is recognized in the accounting profession as the leading authority on technology and firm management. He consults and speaks around the globe on several topics including strategic and technology planning; mindset, skillsets and toolsets for the future; change management and developing a training and learning culture. He also acts as a planning facilitator and coach to some of the accounting profession's top firms.