This morning I found myself browsing through old articles on Accountancy Age. I’d love to say it was intentional; however, it was more due to the fact that I haven’t yet worked out how to sort articles by date on my “smart” phone. Sifting through old articles about Anders Limpar’s tax bill and the former Big Six, there was a Taking Stock piece that caught my attention from May 2000 which stated the following:
Accountants spend up to 30 minutes a day at work daydreaming, according to a survey commissioned by National Lottery operator Camelot. Alarming enough, but Camelot also revealed 50% of its survey sample believe daydreams can come true.
Aged 19 when originally published, I hope that I can be forgiven for not picking this up, as of course my time was spent reconciling clients bank accounts and not reading Accountancy Age, or indeed daydreaming! But, I look back at this article now and I believe it sums up the lack of creativity within our industry.
I’m in a very fortunate position where I do not have to charge a single unit to a client, nor do I have to achieve any specific targets laid down by anybody above me. This doesn’t mean that I’m not accountable to myself, my firm and my staff, and if I didn’t embark on constructive daydreaming each and every day, our firm would be like every single other traditional practice out there. If I only spent 30 minutes each day doing this, I could pretty much live on a beach and do nothing else… but strategic thinking and implementation requires far more than 30 minutes each day.
So, I’m a strong believer that every practice leader should embark on daydreaming every single day. Tear up the rulebook. Look at what you have been doing in your practice for the last few decades, and start again. Do you really need to go through all the processes that you do? Are you unintentionally hindering your own efficiencies? Are you / your client management team the bottlenecks within your practice?
Taking this a step further, are you the only one that should be charged with this responsibility? We’ve recently appointed an “innovations team” to look at every single process within the firm. This team is made up of a business owner, and two front line accounting employees who work within the processes. My role in this is solely to prod and poke - to tease out a better way of doing things. Because, I’ve grown up with the way things have been done too, and it has been over ten years since I’ve done the numbers myself.
Maybe that would be a step too far if your practice still runs with the sole focus of charegable hours (and let’s face it, if it does, your clients fund your inefficiencies through higher unexpected bills anyway!). But however your practice is governed, you can take at least 30 minutes out to find a new way. It will be the most rewarding and productive 30 minutes work that you have undertaken.
(And yes, I do believe that the daydreams can come true. In fact, I know that they can come true!)
By Carl Reader, author of The Start Up Coach and The Franchising Handbook