Think innovation’s just another fad? Think again.


My bookshelf is filled with the “latest” business gurus from the 80’s, 90’s and today.  I still have my Pet Rock, and I bet if you have kids you’re completely over Silly Bandz.

So it’s a reasonable question: is innovation just another fad?  Is it a 2010 buzzword that will be replaced the minute the ball drops on New Year’s Eve?  It sure doesn’t feel that way to companies that have embraced it.  Making innovation part of your organization’s culture can be a real competitive advantage in any industry.   We know it’s true because, after 48 years of success, our CPA firm has made innovation an explicit part of our culture.   It’s taken our thinking to a new level.

And if you snicker a little when you think of putting the words “accountant” and “innovative” in the same sentence, think again.  Over the last six months our management team has given serious thought to ideas that range from investing in clean energy technology to providing hotelling for startup hedge funds to developing resources that our clients can add to their employee benefits packages — at no cost.

Here’s how we got the bulb to light up.

This summer, as part of Kaufman Rossin University’s Leadership Development Program, we focused on innovation.  Dozens of our employees at all levels chose to participate, and all summer we practiced thinking innovatively.  The 2010 Summer Leadership Program showed once again how the Kaufman, Rossin family rises to an opportunity — and dispells the stereotypes about accountants.

We started by doing fun things like imagining programming ideas for a new cable channel and strategizing about how superheros would solve business problems.  We practiced team building skills, learned leadership techniques, and developed complete business plans.    Some teams developed with winning business ideas that we will implement.   We’ll benefit significantly from these innovative ideas.

We’ve become an organization that is … choose your metaphor:

  • finding blue oceans
  • thinking out of the box
  • stretching our boundaries.

And the long-term benefit to our clients, our staff and our principals is immeasurable.

Inspired?  If you’re interested in learning more about implementing an Innovation Challenge program for an organization of any size — or just hosting a Blue Ocean Strategy seminar, let’s talk.

Janet Altman is a Marketing Principal at Kaufman Rossin, one of the Top 100 CPA and advisory firms in the U.S.

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