Nervous about AI? Goat tracks may be to blame

Discover what could be causing your accounting firm’s resistance to embracing AI. We provide three strategies your firm can use to overcome AI challenges.

minute read

Last Updated March 21, 2024

A woman sits at a desk with a laptop open, looking out the window at a field full of goats.


Well, folks, we’re in it. And by “it,” we mean the digital age where the noise about artificial intelligence (AI) is louder than goats bleating at the crack of dawn. It’s like they’re saying, “AI is here, and it’s baa-rilliant!” 

And it’s not going away any time soon. In fact, the global AI market is projected to expand 37% each year by 2030. But this doesn’t seem to deter how most accounting firm owners and leaders feel about AI—89% feel excited or intrigued by it. That’s not baa-ad at all, is it? 

On the flip side, individual contributors are a little more skeptical or scared of AI. They’re almost three times as worried as partners and more than twice as anxious as managers. 

While the fear of AI is valid, we theorize that AI challenges within your firm are due to goat tracks of the mind. Yep, we said goat tracks. Let me eplain. 

The concept of goat tracks 

A pull out image with a lightbulb in the background reads: As humans, we tend to follow the “tracks” we’ve laid down in our minds through repetition and routine.

Imagine, if you will, a meadow where goats are free to roam, following the same paths they’ve trodden many times before. These paths are worn deep into the ground; they’re the paths of least resistance, after all. They are familiar, comfortable and effortless. But what do goat tracks have to do with accounting and AI?

As humans, we tend to follow the “tracks” we’ve laid down in our minds through repetition and routine. Think about how effortless your daily routine is at work. Maybe you launch Slack to message your team and your clients. You launch Zoom for video meetings. There’s familiarity in the apps you need to use each day…because you use them each day. 

But what happens when your firm decides to ditch Slack and switch from Zoom to Microsoft Teams? You can hear the groans now. You know where the “mute” and “share screen” buttons are; you know how to create new conversations. The longer we’ve relied on being comfortable in what we know, the deeper those mental goat tracks have become. We become reluctant to learn new technologies because we have to create new pathways when, instead, we want to cling to what’s been working just fine. 

So, how can you help encourage your team to create new goat tracks? Let’s talk about that next. 

The importance of culture 

A pull out image with 31% in the background reads: While many firm owners and partners don’t see this happening, 31% of individual contributors within firms are concerned with being replaced.

First and foremost, you need a healthy firm culture—one where every voice is heard and valued. One of the challenges of implementing AI is the concern that it will replace people. While many firm owners and partners don’t see this happening, 31% of individual contributors within firms are concerned with being replaced. But in a healthy culture, your staff members feel safe and more empowered to learn how to use AI. 

The resistance to creating new goat tracks—or change—comes from the lack of clarity around your business model. Your entire team needs to know who you serve, what products you deliver and how they’re delivered. This creates a solid foundation for your team to put their trust in and helps create a place where people will absorb and adapt to change. In a healthy culture, staff members are willing to embrace change. 

3 strategies for paving new paths 

A pull out graphic with the three strategies for forming new paths outlined with iconography: 1. Start with a spark. 2. Invest in education. 3. Be patient with the process.

So, how can we coax our minds into leaving the comfort of old routines to embaa-race the new challenges AI brings to accounting? Here are three strategies. 

1. Start with a spark 

A blaze of fire doesn’t just appear out of thin air, so why would you try to overhaul your entire workflow overnight? Ignite interest in AI with small, incremental changes like introducing Rightworks Spark to your team. It was created to meet the specific needs of the accounting profession and is a simple way to start using AI. 

2. Invest in education 

Support your team by investing time and resources into learning more about what AI can do for accounting firm. This can help make the concept less intimidating and encourage your staff to start incorporating it into their routines—and tread a new track. After all, the more you know, the better you feel. 

3. Be patient with the process 

Remember, goat tracks don’t form in a day, and neither will new paths toward embracing AI. Be patient with yourself and your team as you begin to use AI. The goal isn’t to eliminate old tracks but to help pave new ones that become just as familiar and comfortable. 

Take AI challenges by the horns 

Embracing change can be hard. But the problem isn’t AI or a new technology—it’s goat tracks. And when your firm provides an encouraging and healthy environment, your staff will slowly begin to pave new paths. Help them take on the challenge, and let the journey…(you knew this was coming) baa-gin. 

Get started with Spark today. 

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