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image of cricket bat and ball | accountingweb | Bazball for accountants
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Is Bazball a good match for accountancy?

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Whether you’re a cricket fan or stumped by its popularity, it may be worth giving the Bazball mindset a spin in your practice.

14th Mar 2024
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Even readers who are not cricket lovers will, by now, almost certainly have heard of Bazball.

In the eyes of its ever-growing British fan club, this is a universal panacea. The theory is that Bazball will save test match cricket by making it far more entertaining, at the same time as giving the England team such an advantage that they will be world beaters for a generation or more.

This is almost certainly over-promising for a concept that is novel but not unique. Even so, it has taken the cricket world by storm and, stripping away much of the illusion and hype, there are some ideas that are worth exploring in the context of our own, very different environment.

In many ways, Bazball is based on an extreme version of gambling, upping the stakes at the same time as attempting to increase your chances of winning. This means there is always a strong possibility of coming a cropper on a relatively regular basis.

Prima facie, that is far from desirable in a profession where prudence is our goddess and getting things wrong could lead to unemployment, bankruptcy or in extreme cases prison.

However, as with so many theories, a little bit of cherry-picking could bring a vast benefit, transforming our lives and, if all goes well, boosting the bottom line at the same time.

A recent book extolling the benefits of Bazball might have a nasty tendency to downplay the negatives but, in a series of interviews with those at the sharp end, demonstrates ways in which we might be able to take advantage of some of the underlying philosophy.

Do it anyway

The first idea might take some justification, given the natural accountancy mindset. It is to banish fear of failure.

In our ambit, this might be useful when pitching to prospective clients. Rather than naturally assuming that they are going to overlook your firm in favour of someone much bigger, why not approach the tender on the basis that you cannot lose. Okay, there will be disappointments along the way but looking confident can pay big dividends.

It could also prove equally effective when trying to recruit a potential star or negotiating a Treaty settlement with HMRC.

The trick here is to avoid seeming excessively arrogant, something that not all England cricketers have quite mastered.

Praise where it’s due

The other message that comes across loud and clear is with regard to people management. Counter-intuitively, when his teammates fail, Ben Stokes goes out of his way to praise them. Whether this is the batsman who has thrown away his wicket or a bowler hit for consecutive sixes, rather than castigate them, the England captain tells them to keep going, in the confident belief that they are good and will succeed sooner rather than later.

Again, this can be difficult in an office environment (or even communicating with those working from home).

It could pay big dividends though since, in this accountant’s experience, most of those in managerial positions and especially partners have an unwelcome tendency to focus on the 1% that has gone wrong, rather than the 99% that has gone right.

Such an approach inevitably shakes the confidence of junior members of staff and, in many cases, leads to far higher staff turnover rates than are necessary. Both of these consequences are costly, either because your people are not working as effectively as they might, constantly looking over their shoulders, or when you face the costs of recruiting and bedding in new colleagues.

The final message is at least as significant as the first two and relates to attitude and demeanour.

Happy days

Not only was the intention behind Bazball to ensure that paying spectators were entertained but also to introduce a management style that goes out of its way to ensure that the players are enjoying themselves too.

It is a sad fact of life that if you head into an accountant’s office most people look pretty unhappy, often the unhappiest of the lot being those at the top of the pile.

Creating a working environment where people are constantly smiling, praising others and doing their damnedest to make sure that, wherever possible and it isn’t always, work is enjoyable is relatively easy to achieve and should not only make everyone feel better but also translate into improved financial results.

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