Can you see your firm's vision?
The word 'vision' is part of our contemporary business language, yet not every accountant can readily articulate just what their vision for their practice is.
It's not just a marketing plan, although these plans have to be based on an appreciation of a vision for the firm. The irony is that a vision is something that never exists in the physical sense – it simply can't be seen with the eyes.
A vision is a product of the imagination. It can be reduced to writing but that's only a summary of something much more vital.
One way of defining vision is: 'What the practice will be in three years' time'. It's obviously not a part of the here and now but rather something that is going to happen in the future. Here are the elements of the vision for a firm:
- What it will be like at a designated time in the future
- What its structure will be at that point in time
- What its culture will be at that point in time
- What forces will make it be like that
- What the drivers for those forces are (or will be)
How important is it for an accountancy practice to have a vision? Absolutely essential! A firm is unlikely to grow unless it knows what it wants to be and how it's going to get that way. And without growth, in this fast-moving competitive era a firm will actually be going backwards.
It's a real shame that so many partners in accounting firms don't seem capable of looking ahead - to see what might be, rather than only what exists right now. That attitude only ensures that things will happen by accident, and those aren't necessarily going to be good things.
So what is it that can create a vision and enable accountants to conceptualize a future for their enterprises? There are at least three 'drivers' that do this.
An investment of energy
Visions are created only after a significant investment of energy. It takes energy to do the research, the thinking and to spend the many hours of hard work to articulate the vision for a practice.
An accumulation of knowledge
A vision isn't created in isolation. The creator of a vision has to know about the market, the principles of business and how to run one, human behaviour, leadership, finance and a host of other things that need to be learned.
It's only the background knowledge that enables a visionary to construct a future out of the past and present.
The power of thought
The human mind is an amazing and powerful thing. It is the engine that creates the vision, the intellectual tool that enables a person to consider a vast body of knowledge and sort out what can and should be from that which is impossible or unwanted.
A vision is a prediction of the future and can only be produced by thought. The mind can create many possibilities but only one can be chosen to be the vision towards which the business is launched.
Just having a vision isn't enough to make it happen. Once created the vision must be achieved by the use of resources, and one of the most powerful resources integral to achieving a vision is the team in the firm.
To be truly effective a vision must be shared with and accepted by the members of the team. It must be clearly communicated and become part of the culture of the practice. Unless this is accomplished it's not likely to be realized.
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