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Visioning: The Foundation for Business Transformation


Last Published in Accounting Today | October 2023


In today's rapidly evolving business landscape, firms and their clients must adapt and transform to stay relevant and competitive. Visioning is critical in driving business transformation, providing the entire organization with a clear sense of direction, purpose and motivation. A powerful vision articulates what the company aspires to be, do, have, experience and create in the future, setting the foundation for strategic decision-making and guiding the digital transformation journey. 


This article explores the importance of vision statements in driving business transformation and provides an action plan for firms to develop and leverage their shared vision effectively. A shared vision differs from a shared service organization sharing overhead and resources. Which type of firm do you want to be and, more importantly, be a part of in one, three and five years? 


The Challenges 

Visioning is challenging because of the market, service lines and organizational dynamics (including technological advancements). The process requires time to think, plan and grow individually and as a firm.  


Personal visions are also essential for building and developing unique ability teams. Like their clients, most firms are composed of multi-generation workforces that may not have aligned values and priorities. Elevating your role in the firm requires life-long learning, leadership development, personal transformation and identifying your unique abilities to gain satisfaction and avoid burnout. 


A facilitated process can expedite and ensure difficult conversations are productive. Getting the right people on the bus and in the right seats is challenging and goes beyond traditional human resources compliance. From experience, it will probably require moving some people to a different seat on the bus or even their exit from the bus. The "right people, right seat" concept is not new. The most famous advocate of this concept is Jim Collins in his book Good to Great. Great things happen when you have the right people in the right seats. 


Workarounds occur when you don't have the right people in the right seats, causing ineffective workflow and excessive meetings. The result is often the loss of high-performing team members. Excellence does not tolerate mediocrity, and mediocrity does not like excellence.  


The Benefits of Vision Statements in Driving Business Transformation 

Here are a few ways vision statements help drive business transformation. 


  • Aligning business goals. Vision statements help align business objectives with the desired future state of the firm. Defining what the firm wants to be, do, have, experience and create will inspire and guide strategic decision-making toward transformative goals. 

  • Meeting client expectations. In the era of client experience, vision statements ensure firms remain client-centric and adapt to changing client expectations. By articulating the desired client experience, vision statements provide a framework for developing and implementing digital transformation initiatives. 

  • Inspiring change. A well-crafted vision statement acts as a rallying cry for team members. It conveys a sense of purpose, inspires commitment and empowers employees to embrace change and drive business transformation. It helps create a firm spirit that motivates individuals to think beyond routine tasks and contribute to the larger firm goals. 

Development/Updating Your Visioning Process 

Consider the following best practices when you create or update your vision.  


  • Inclusive collaboration. Engage the leadership team, employees and stakeholders in the visioning process. Collect their insights, perspectives and aspirations to create a shared vision that embodies the collective goals of the firm. You can accomplish this with interactive perception surveys, with results displayed instantly and followed by small group discussions with three or four people in each group. We recommend using a Likert scale of 1 to 10 to easily identify outliers who strongly agree or disagree. Utilizing structured questions and requiring group leaders to summarize priority opportunities and issues is part of the consensus-building and commitment process. 

  • Clarity and simplicity. Craft a concise and action-oriented vision statement that describes the firm's future state in simple terms. Avoid jargon or complex language, ensuring everyone within the firm easily understands the vision. 

  • Relevance to core values. Align the vision statement with the firm's core values and beliefs. A strong vision statement resonates with the firm's core values and cultivates a sense of authenticity, trust and commitment among employees, owners and clients. 

  • Long-term perspective. Develop a vision statement that encompasses both short-term and long-term goals. By considering the desired outcomes in the next one, three and five years, firms can chart a transformative path that evolves over time. But remember, a sense of urgency and early success are more important than a grand plan with a too-distant future. 

Here is your action plan to get started. 


  1. Engage key stakeholders in the visioning process, ensuring you create a shared vision. Schedule the meetings now, utilizing an outside facilitator. Use perception surveys and questions to ensure participant engagement. 

  1. Craft a concise and compelling vision statement that aligns with the firm's core values. 

  1. Communicate the vision to all employees, emphasizing its relevance and importance in driving business transformation. 

  1. Align strategic goals, initiatives and resource allocation with the vision statement to ensure consistent progress toward transformation. 

  1. Foster a culture that supports and embraces change, encouraging employee engagement and empowerment. 

  1. Regularly evaluate progress and adapt strategies to bridge the gap between the vision and reality. 

  1. Stay informed about emerging digital technologies and explore their potential to drive transformational change. 


Transformation is necessary, not an option and vision statements are critical for driving business transformation in today's digital age. They provide a powerful tool for firms to articulate their short and long-term goals, align resources and inspire action. However, it is essential to acknowledge and address the challenges. 


By translating big goals into actionable plans, integrating the vision into everyday operations, embracing technological changes, aligning with core values and remaining agile in a dynamic business landscape, firms can overcome these challenges and turn their vision into reality. Think-Plan-Grow! 

 

Could you benefit from a peer network of other advisory service leaders?


The Boomer CAAS Circle is a peer group of advisory service leaders from top accounting firms who benefit from sharing knowledge, best practices and lessons learned. Apply now to get plugged into the Circle and start transforming your firm.

 

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.

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