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Seizing the Future as Anticipatory Advisors

By Joey Havens

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This blog is the fourth part of a series meant to outline 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. For example, in our opening blog, we discussed a future view where the time it takes to do things will become irrelevant and will not be supported in our new business model. We will not charge by the hour for our services so we are solving those problems now. Uncertainty will dominate the future—having the competency of being anticipatory will be 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 you to think about your client service, especially for some of the 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 will be too abrupt and impactful. We need to anticipate where this is going. Burrus’ book, The Anticipatory Organization, is required reading in our firm, plus we have put all professionals through the AO training with the Business Learning Institute and the Maryland Association of CPAs.

You may still be asking why this skill matters? Because our clients are living and working in a world that is full of uncertainty. They are facing many of the same hard trends and certainly the accelerating disruption that Daniel Burrus talks about. They feel the disruption, but many are similar to our own partners and team members—they are ignoring this rapid change and growing risks.

Many 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.”

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.