William Buck’s Perth office is utilising some thought-provoking ideas as a means of finding solutions that will enable the firm and its clients to run more successful businesses.
Like many professional services firms, William Buck has a management and leadership program that seeks to encourage directors and managers to try new and better solutions in a quick moving marketplace.
“The scope and scale of transformation requires more provocative thinking,” states Chris Brown, a Director of Corporate Advisory in William Buck’s Perth office. “We need more awareness and very much more engagement by every person involved with the firm.”
In recent years as accounting firms have sought to broaden their traditional services beyond the core skills of providing financial statements based on historical data, they have drawn on more innovative thinking.
This new thinking has included emotional intelligence – referred to as EI or EQ – as an avenue of enhancing performance that goes beyond a person’s intelligent quotient (IQ). Design thinking is another process that aims to make leaders take a solutions approach when operating in an environment of strategic development and organisational change.
Another more recent methodology to be introduced into William Buck’s personal development program includes elements of Conscious Capitalism. Conscious Capitalism goes beyond simple corporate responsibility initiatives. Companies that adopt this approach do not prioritise the maximum return on investment for shareholders to the detriment of workers and society at large. They do make a profit but they include profit as one of several measures of success.
In the US where Conscious Capitalism has a strong following – it has only been in Australia for about two years – companies that focus on purpose and social good also perform best based on classic business metrics. Research published in the book Firms of Endearment:How World Class Companies Profit from Passion and Purpose showed that companies adhering to the principles of Conscious Capitalism outperformed the market financially over all measured time periods from 3 to 15 years.
In addition to financial wealth these companies are reported to have created many other kinds of societal wealth: fulfilled employees, happy and loyal customers, innovative and profitable suppliers, thriving and environmentally healthy communities and more. Brands that have incorporated this thinking into their processes include the Container Store, Starbucks, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market.
William Buck’s philosophy is reflected in its “Changing Lives” theme which challenges its people not to be comfortable with the status quo. These more contemporary models of leadership and organisational structure are delivered by the Illuminate Group in collaboration with the firm.
As Brown explains, it’s about making people aware that different views exist. “We try to bring to life the fact that we have a Changing Lives theme. It isn’t just something which sits on a shingle on the wall. Rather it’s something that we can execute in the activities of each day,” says.
Brown, who is a facilitator and presenter at the personal development workshops, took a primary role in engaging the Illuminate Group. “The old way of figuring out how we transform to meet our clients’ future needs and how we employ people, will be turned on its head. And it will happen within a shorter space of time than people realise.”
Brown hopes if leaders achieve positive results through adopting some of the new philosophies, which are not the traditional way of running a business, the program will be presented to other William Buck offices. No one philosophy dominates the thinking espoused in the firm’s personal development program.
“It’s a blend of some of the principles of Conscious Capitalism, design thinking and areas of personal development that are going to be more important in the future than in the past,” he notes.
Previously, the testing of such new ideas might have been opposed because of the demands they would make on billing time or no-one was willing to champion them. “Now there is a lot more openness and willingness to try new things,” Brown says.