“I have had a lot of trouble trying to convince my supervisors that intrapreneurial skills should be taught to accountants. They feel that accountants are only required to provide information using the tools they learn in training.
However, from my research it is evident to me that business is changing rapidly and all areas of business need to become more innovative, including accountancy. Management accountants are constantly reinventing the methods they use, the main example currently being the "beyond budgeting" movement.”
Right on Hannah!
In my coaching of intrapreneurs I have found that having the support of accountants and finance people who understand intrapreneuring is essential. If your future employer wants innovation, then having accountants who understand and value intrapreneuring will be necessary.
In my two greatest successes implementing the most advanced form of intrapreneuring, The Intelligent Organization, my primary sponsors for the implementation of internal markets and internal service intrapreneuring were from finance and the most essential partners were the accountants in the divisions served by the intrapreneurial teams. Without their desire to make the system work for the internal service providing intrapreneurs, they would never have received the internal transfer payments on which their existence depended. Given the inflexibility of most big company computer systems it often required courage and ingenuity to get the systems to do what was needed to make free intraprise possible.
I also believe that you are right about the need for innovative accountancy in general. Entrepreneurs and small and medium sized enterprises need accountants who can figure out how to account for new business models and new kinds of contractual relationships. So do innovators inside larger organizations. Increasingly routine accounting will move to countries with cheaper labor. If you want to be employed in accounting for a career in the United States and other advanced nations, you will need to be innovative. This means you will need to understand intrapreneuring, or work for an accountant who does.
Another area of innovation in accounting is triple bottom line accounting. Increasingly corporations reporting on their success in the economic, ecological and social arenas. Check out TriLibrium, a triple bottom line accountancy founded by Brian Setzler and André Furin, both graduates of the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, now Pinchot University. Extending the role of accountants beyond counting the numbers, they note:
“In a triple-bottom-line world, numbers rarely tell the whole story or serve as an adequate guide for making decisions or measuring performance.”
Triple bottom line accounting deals with the larger picture and thus prepares accountants to be better business partners with their clients.
To summarize: As routine work moves to lower cost nations, the work done in the US and other wealthy countries will increasingly be about innovation and major change issues like sustainability. Even if they are not driving innovation themselves, accountants in the richer nations will increasingly find themselves supporting innovation, which will require them to be flexible and innovative themselves. Hannah, don't give up on intrapreneuring. (I never thought you would.)