A few weeks ago, I presented at the 2017 Southeastern Accounting Show hosted by the Georgia Society of CPA’s. Leaving, I found myself stunned by the lack of preparedness of our profession from a grassroots perspective. And I wondered—as we look into the mirror, are we spiraling towards irrelevancy because we are fooling ourselves?
Consider these sobering facts that are staring back at us. With nearly 200 attendees participating in the live poll, 88% reported that innovation of our profession was not really significant to future success. Well, surely I butchered communicating that question as it's pretty evident that we have some sweeping changes coming our way—isn’t it? I phrased it another way and asked the participants to assess where their firm is with innovation. A mere 4% reported they were addressing their business model with another 9% reporting innovation is a daily effort. A stunning 87% of these professionals reported that, in their opinion, incremental changes were sufficient to meet today’s challenges. I guess we have to admit that has been true the last 50 to 100 years in our profession when it comes to dealing with change. Legacy thinking would confirm that past change has been incremental and we can simply expect more of the same. Are we really blind to the transformation around us?
I followed this up with a question on having a compelling vision for the future and their firm. 1% reported having a compelling vision for going forward. I guess there’s some hope in that 13% reported their firm was developing one. But that’s 86% reporting a vision around status quo and incremental change. Are we spiraling towards irrelevancy because we are blinded by legacy thinking, legacy success, complacency, self-importance, herd mentality, fear, greed or lack of understanding? What else could be clouding our mirror?
Maybe it’s not a lack of understanding but we simply are not prepared. In fact, Cpa.com reported in their survey that 92% of CPAs reported themselves as not being "future-ready."
I wrote this blog as a wake-up call because I am convinced that too many professionals are not looking in the mirror at all. At home, in the car, in the restroom, how long do you personally look into a mirror? It’s the same amount of time for everyone although generally shorter for men. Ha! We look into the mirror until it’s better, until we are presentable as best we can be at that moment. If we had more professionals looking into the mirror, we would be seeing more urgency around innovation and changing our business models and services.
Then again, maybe our legacy success is blinding us and we are fooling ourselves. Reminds me of physicist Richard Feynman who states it so eloquently for us, “Principle number one is to not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.” Let’s get those mirrors out and get better today!