One thing that marks the transition from one generation of business leaders to the next is the younger generation announcing with terrific and unshakeable assurance that the world— its customs and behaviors and interests, its trends and ideas for the acceptable and unacceptable, its protocols and politics, so on and so forth—is not like the world that preceded it. They display the problems and begin to make improvements (Sears to Amazon, for example), designing a framework that will help actualize their moment.
This requires the end of deference, which historically has upset their forbearers who, for comfort’s sake, still have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. It is much more agreeable, much less taxing, than trying to relearn everything. Some elders mock the developments with great humor and poignancy; sometimes they shout, or bemusedly watch the glittery but foreign present roll past with the yawning apathy of an elephant surveying a passing helicopter. Some retire—but many do not, and this division makes for a temporary discontinuity between the old and young, who are hard at work resolving the kinds of problems their predecessors tolerated.
In our industry this would mean the graduation from QuickBooks and Excel to the kinds of integrated ERP software offered from Sage Intacct and created for the institutional demands of our epoch, with cloud-based architecture, precise reporting and metrics through customizable dashboards, project-based specifics, and automated processes that have eliminated perilous tasks like duplicate data entry. Sage Intacct has been outfitted with solutions for the kinds of challenges that face the common non-profit or project service firm, to name a few. Preceding generations of accountants, who didn’t have access to such vanguard technologies, deserve thunderous applause for getting through nightly meals without spasmodic sobbing and routine collapse, clinical exhaustion.
The new ways are entrenched. We cannot look back on the old accounting solutions of our grandparents any more than we would want to exchange the conveniences of Amazon for those of Sears. We must adapt accordingly, understand that our situation is vastly different from theirs. And if the older generation gets too depressed they can take solace in knowing that soon there will be another shakeup that will produce similar confusion. What goes around comes around, after all.