Be One With That Edge: The Innovative Accountant
The speed of change is incredibly fast, with telecoms, healthcare and IT companies setting the trend on the outer edge. In fact, in almost every industry, groundbreaking leaps into the future are being reported on a daily basis. However, one industry remains painfully silent – the accounting profession. Why?
We’ve been tied up in a constant flux of regulation and the continued emphasis on the backward-looking audit is simply an outdated philosophy.
The formal practice of auditing started in 1929 when it became compulsory in the USA. While we have made small strides in the past decade, some auditing approaches and techniques simply haven’t kept up with real-time economy.
Why we as auditors find ourselves in this position of decline:
- We dislike risks.
- Innovation has uncertainty.
- Innovation disrupts.
We’ve heard it all before. Yes, change is the only constant, and innovation is essential. But how do we put this into practice? Into action!
It’s time to innovate and get creative …
How does Google do this?
Google does this by applying nine principles:
- Innovation comes from anywhere.
- Focus on the customer.
- Aim to be ten times better.
- Bet on technical insights.
- Get your services out – do not wait for perfection.
- Give employees 20% time to pursue projects that they are passionate about.
- Tap into you clients to get great ideas.
- Do not dwell on failure.
- Have a mission that matters to people.
How you should do it?
Creativity and gap analysis audit
Performing a creativity and gap analysis audit will reveal some real truths about your firm. Connect with your clients: what are their dislikes and pain points? Innovation will come from solving clients’ frustrations.
Create the right conditions
What resources do you possess to think creatively about ideas and solutions? It is important to create the right conditions for innovation. You need to plan the process, get commitment from team members and partners, and secure funding.
The signs of change are around us and sometimes we have to sit and observe, project and simulate change.
Creativity begins with a foundation of knowledge, learning a discipline, and mastering whole-brain thinking. We learn to be creative by experimenting, exploring, questioning assumptions, using imagination and synthesising information.
Listening to customer frustrations will bring about great ideas Generating innovative ideas is both a function of the mind and a function of behaviours – behaviours anyone can put into practice.
It is important to check whether your ideas are aligned with your personal and firm’s priorities.
Create the right business case
We need to look beyond the present and imagine creative futures. We need to introduce new services, new products and new technologies that are not cosmetic. Services have to be relevant and meaningful – adopted by clients that want to take their businesses to the next level.
During the development of the business case, products and services are tested for:
- Relevance – so what?
- Feasibility– being sustainable
- Innovation – being new
- Customer adoption – being implemented
It is imperative that accountants ultimately lead the way in adoption and implementation of the future audit so that they continue to be the professionals of choice relative to the audit engagements of the future.
As George Bernard Shaw famously said: ‘The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.’
Hello, the future.
Author: Coenie Middel CA(SA) is the Founder and CEO of Middel and Partners