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Being Anticipatory is Distinctive

By Joey Havens

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Being Anticipatory is Distinctive
This blog is the fourth part of a series that outlines the Four Building Blocks to Move to Advisory Services.

We’ve already discussed the first two blocks: MINDSET SHIFT and CONFIDENCE. ANTICIPATORY SKILLS is the third building block to move our organizations towards advisory services and seize our future by being relevant — starting now.

I believe this is a new skill that is required. Being anticipatory is defined as aware, predictive and adaptive. If we simply focus on being agile or nimble, we are always responding to things and being disrupted. By anticipating, we can actually be the disruptor and capture new opportunities. Seeing disruption coming provides us choices. Choices we must make today.

Being anticipatory is seeing a problem and solving it before it becomes a big problem. It is seeing opportunities coming that others are not seeing or simply ignoring. It is seeing trends that affect business models and making the appropriate changes to stay relevant. Uncertainty will dominate the future — having the competency of being anticipatory is invaluable.

How anticipatory would our clients describe our services and our conversations with them? What do they see when we walk into the room? Are we in the accountant’s box? I challenge us to think about our client service, especially for some of our long-standing clients, and chances are, we are doing the same services and having the same conversations we have had with them the last 10 years.

“We are living in an era of accelerating disruption — not simple change, but outright transformational change. Revolutionary technology and business concepts are rendering traditional systems and modes of thinking less relevant and even obsolete at an increasing pace,” according to Daniel Burrus.

This is why simply hoping to be agile enough will not work. The disruption is too abrupt and has impacted all facets of our business models. 
You may still be asking why this skill matters? Because our clients live and work in a world full of uncertainty. They face many of the same hard trends and certainly the accelerating disruption that Daniel Burrus talks about. They are experiencing the disruption and for some it is devasting while others are seeing opportunity. In all cases, strategic direction, business models and market trends have evolved and are demanding attention.

Many clients simply don’t know who to turn to, and the sad fact is that many are leaving us in the accountant’s box and going outside our profession to get help on anticipating and planning their future. Again, disruption is here, the future is here, we cannot continue to just block and tackle or hope to answer the phone. We must talk about “What’s Possible.”

Can we admit that most of our team members are simply not comfortable talking about the future trends and anticipating what that means for a business? It’s a skill that can be learned and practiced. This one skill can move our client experience from good to great. 
It makes any firm or individual distinctive. Period. 

Why? Because most individuals and firms will not demonstrate the uncommon discipline to learn and practice being anticipatory. It’s that edge that separates the superstars from the average players. But when you look closely, you will see whether it was Tiger Woods, Tom Brady or Michael Jordan, they had uncommon discipline to practice and learn to be the best. 
Our firms can be superstars in a world of uncertainty. We can help our clients see and plan for future opportunities if we develop anticipatory skills. We can help our clients see and avoid future challenges. When our mindset changes from historians and transactional to anticipatory — we are distinctive and valued. We will be having What’s Possible conversations every day.