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In Search of a New Normal

As for our profession, you have no doubt read, heard and seen how disruption was coming. Your reactions may have ranged from a mild shrug to rabid agreement. But opinions varied on when disruption would arrive and truly ...

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While it is hard to get a consensus on just about anything today with all that is going on, we can agree that everything changed with COVID-19. 

In the blink of an eye, the lives of nearly every human being worldwide were disrupted at a speed and scale never before seen in the history of civilization.

As for our profession, you have no doubt read, heard and seen how disruption was coming. Your reactions may have ranged from a mild shrug to rabid agreement. But opinions varied on when disruption would arrive and truly impact our profession in ways that are meaningful and sustaining.

As I sit down to write this article, there is no doubt that we are getting a taste of disruption.

Now that accounting firms and finance departments of all shapes and sizes have been truly disrupted, it may be fitting to explore a path through this new uncharted territory. 

We are working remotely, using video conferencing and online collaboration, relying upon electronic signatures and e-payments. We are operating nearly 100 percent virtually. At least for the time being, very few of us can wander down the hallway, print a balance sheet, see a change needed, then reprint it, and grab a new copy off the printer.

The workflow has changed. Our pace has changed. Everything about it feels different. The process, its energy, when and where we place our implied trust, and the steps to things done.

We must embrace the future because it is sitting on our chest, we have no alternative. We have no option but to say goodbye to our dear old friend, “saly.”

Out of the blue

Disruption came like a meteor, in an instant, seemingly without warning.  Were you able to keep working?  Were you ready for the shift to a completely remote workforce?  Were your customers able to collaborate in a seamless way? 

Or did things come to a sudden halt? Was it bumpy? Were there lapses and dropped balls?

Whatever the initial experiences, the key now is how you will respond and carry forward. What is the path for your team and your organization?

The job now is to manage the disruption and evolve into a whole new level.  The keys to finding success are to shift your mindset and embrace this change. It requires you to experiment with what works, while remembering that you need to keep breathing, to maintain a tempo that makes sense.

Embrace the new normal

Take this as a once in a lifetime opportunity to embrace the disruption as an opportunity. Push your organization forward. Adapt and innovate. 

After all, innovation is now a necessity. Think back to just three months ago. We could have a lengthy debate amongst accounting firm leaders on the uses and needs for portals to conduct tax return deliveries.  But overnight, the ability for many of us to deliver a return in person was evaporated.  Electronic delivery is now the only option.

What other changes have you been putting off that you may now embrace?  So, instead of looking at recent events as a negative, view them—best as possible—as a form of blessings.  You can innovate to bring your organization into the future. 

Embrace this as the opportunity it is. Use this time of disruption to forge a new path and jumpstart your organize, customers and even your peers.  Embrace the new, knowing that not everything works perfectly the first time. Iteration is part of the road to perfection.

Experiment

The second thing to embrace is an experimental mindset.  We have all been pushed into disruptive change, and most of us did not have a clear path forward for each new process.

Just because you deployed option A on Day 1, don’t get locked into that process.  As you drive a path forward, keep pushing to find a best practice.  Continue to, evaluate each process. If it does not serve you or your stakeholders, if it is not optimal, why settle?

One of the hidden blessing is that you will find your customers and peers are much more accepting given what is going on around us.  You have a “get out of jail free card” to change how you operate.   Leverage this opportunity to land upon the right solution for the future.

Breathe

Most importantly, as our days often feel chaotic and out of control, we must remember to care for ourselves.  Someone reminded me recently, it is just like being on an airplane. In the event of an emergency, your put the mask on your face first. 

Once a day, take five minutes for yourself and just breath.  Find a moment and seek some tranquility, ground yourself, and recharge for the day ahead.  If you have never tried meditation, make that a goal.  You can’t be yourself if you are overly stressed and fatigued.

As we look around and seek a path forward in these disruptive times, rather than focusing on the negative, embrace change as an opportunity to move beyond your old ways.  Embrace an innovative mindset and a new way forward each day.  Seek out new solutions to running the accounting practices and processes you have always performed. Experiment with different options, so that you can find a new normal. 

Above all, let’s not forget to take time every day for ourselves. To keep pushing forward, to keep helping one another, we need to put the air mask on our own faces first. Only then, can we be in shape to help out our neighbor.

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Garrett Wagner, CPA.CITP is CEO and Founder of C3 Evolution Group.

See inside May 2020

How to Lead During a Crisis

At this point, there’s no point in pretending that things are anywhere close to normal. The coronavirus crisis has touched all of our lives, changing the way businesses operate and altering the tax calendar itself.

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