One of the little marketing things I do for my company is follow basic news releases on iXBRL and XBRL, which is a form of accounting report language. In short, it helps financial statements become more transparent and less like Enron’s made-up world of “energy trading.”
Many governments are either in process, or just starting, to adapt this form of language. XBRL has been around for more than 10 years and those who have championed it (like my company) have pulled together a knot of incredibly intelligent individuals. So much so they came up with iXBRL, which is designed to make this complex language even more readable to your average accounting Joe.
HMRC has a mandate in 2011 that this MUST be adopted. People MUST file in that language. That’s it. Way of life. Deal with your fate.
And, in accordance with the time-honored tradition of 90% of the world people have begun to panic.
Rather than these nice little news articles on how XBRL is spiffy and how iXBRL is rainbows, the articles are now saying something to the effect of: 2011 is coming. So is XBRL. Get your act together.
The time for skipping through fields of financials has passed.
With my background in change management and training, I know what is due next: First, people are going to remain in denial for as long as humanly possible. They’ll propose things (much like my American forefathers) of digging trenches around their companies and filling it with snakes so that no tax man can get to them. Finding this to be logistically more expensive than implementing XBRL they will then end up hiring any consultant that can spell XBRL to do it for them.
Then, after realizing in horror their error of hiring , they will believe that somewhere exists a software system that can read minds, raise the dead, and implement XBRL.
Of course, all of this will need to cost less than £1.00 and include 20,000 years of indentured servitude.
You can, if you want, remove XBRL and replace it with any enterprise software system like SAP or Oracle. You can even apply it to more controversial things like healthcare reform or religion (The Inquisition would be what people would call a partially successful implementation.). Anything which impacts the majority is fraught with danger as you are dealing with a broader spectrum of feelings, thoughts, intelligence and passion. So, right now you sell the fear: GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER.
If you are on the outside of XBRL, then you could care less about it… unless it impacts how much budget you get. If you are inside of XBRL you could be anything: lost, confused, excited, angry. As we are currently coping with a few (not a many) who are incredibly well-versed in the in and out, that means knowledge can come at you much like the game of telephone. How does one survive in all this? How, when they have waited until the last moment, will they get through?
Well, first, accept your fate.
This is, by far, the hardest thing that a person can do. But it can be done. Rather than allowing telephone and rumors and fear to spread you get simply get your people together and come up with a message that in one way or another says: We know it’s coming.
Second, get your knot together.
You know your knot. These are the smart people. These are probably the people who annoyed you to pieces about XBRL coming and you labeled them annoying. Yes, they will claim some personal victory chanting “I told you so.” But they are the passionate ones, the excited ones. Balance them out with the rational ones. Those were the people who didn’t annoy you but did tell you that you needed to do something about it.
Third, understand this is a solution not a band-aid.
This means time, money, and a combination of outside consultation with a software value-add. Neither alone will solve your problems and we all know that companies are not cookie cutouts. You have your own systems, your own templates, your own little logo placements that have to be dealt with (which is why you’ll love iXBRL but anyways….) DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES BECOME A MOB MENTALITY. You know mobs, they are like this organism of stupid. They have been fed partial truths and sales spins and marketing fluff and believe things like the fall of civilization will be based entirely on the introduction of pink socks to the mainstream market in 2012. This is all because of one study or one news piece or this one guy has been ranting on a box about it for years.
Your knot of people should be tasked and managed to find your solution in a reasonable time period. They should be realistic, rational, and definitely not political.
It’s for the greater good, afterall.
Finally, when all is said and done try to learn from your mistakes. We, as humans, don’t tend to do it. That’s why there are change management experts, presentations on cycles of change and acceptance, and the word change in general. XBRL and iXBRL will yield more due to people wanting to know more. We’re a society of being in the know. And the more you condition yourself to accepting and understanding change the better coping skills you develop.
So get to it.