Henry Irving, Head of the Audit and Assurance Faculty of ICAEW, calls the game-changers of the profession
The American social anthropologist Margaret Mead famously said “Never underestimate the power of a small group of committed people to change the world. In fact, it is the only thing that ever has.” In these times when economic challenges and social pressures are influencing the debate about audit and assurance, we have an opportunity to reflect on the leadership of our profession.
If the 20th century was the epoch of great leaders, dictators and entrepreneurs, the 21st century is the era for collaborative innovators. With this aim, most successful organisations have moved away from top-down decision-making and have adopted different models for corporate entrepreneurship. These include the “Skunk Works” groups of Lockheed Martin, 3M’s risk-friendly open innovation workshops, and Google’s intrapreneur programmes, which allow employees to spend up to 20% of their time to pursue projects of their choice. Similarly at ICAEW we are no longer searching for individual heroes – we are looking for people to work together on the ideas that can inspire teams and organisations to reconnect individual and business goals with the needs of society.
So, how do we foster entrepreneurship opportunities in the audit and assurance profession? How can we enable the next generation of young professionals to take their profession forward in an uncertain future and build a positive vision?
I think that if we want to accelerate the potential for innovation in the profession, we need to connect “game-changers” from different organisations with each other. Creating a network that can offer these young people a safe space will enable them to pursue more radical ideas. Great ideas could easily be constrained by the confines of traditional organisational cultures and structures. We need to build a structured programme that allows peers from different firms to build and implement innovations together. For change to take root across the profession, we need to promote ideas that are viable and desirable. Such an entrepreneurial network will not only inspire positive discussions in the accounting firms but will also lead the public to regain trust in audit and assurance.
We are now piloting a network of top-flight game-changers as part of our AuditFutures initiative. We are looking for participants from a range of organisations that have the potential to develop the audit profession in the 21st century. We are seeking the leaders who want to serve a higher purpose, above and beyond their own self-interest or that of their organisations. This dynamic group of about thirty visionary and creative thinkers will have the experience of delivering challenging projects and can navigate them through the complexities of implementation. You can discover more about this ambitious programme from www.AuditFutures.org/Game-changers
Now is the time to actively support the young professionals with enthusiasm and energy and help them build a momentum for positive change that will modernise our profession. We invite you to make this great initiative a real success and encourage you to promote it in your organisation. Together, we can mobilise the game-changers who can really inspire our profession.