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Do you have a compass? Reflections from the road ...

Navigators of ChangeI just got back from two terrific meetings, the Northeast CPE Conference and the CPA Practice Advisor's Top 25 Thought Leader Symposium. I spent the plane ride home reflecting on those meetings and boiling down my insights and learning.

 My No. 1 insight is both an opportunity and a threat.

The opportunity is for organizations and people to seize opportunities to innovate and create new ways to serve their customers and members.

The threat is the inability to get leadership, boards of directors, bosses, etc., to support them in applying what they learned to make necessary changes and try some new things.

Both meetings were about the future, one for learning and the other for technology. Both meetings talked about the dizzying pace of change, the increase in complexity, and the notion that this time it's different. The megatrends of technology, globalization, and demographics are accelerating and the impact of these trends is showing up as much bigger than anyone thought. This is driving a need for faster innovation and  more collaboration within and without our organizations. 

They say they can't carry the message back in a way that inspires action. They end up leaving a meeting all fired up, soon to be inundated with the flood of everyday work. The e-mails and calls and problems of today slow them down enough so they can't get to tomorrow.

So what do we do about this?

Then, as if on queue, I got a tweet with a link to Seth Godin's latest blog post, The map has been replaced by a compass. Seth writes, "Technology keeps changing the routes we take... It doesn't pay to memorize the route, because it's going to change soon. The compass, on the other hand, is more important than ever. If you don't know which direction you're going, how will you know you're off course?"

Which brings me back to my insights from those two inspiring meetings. To carry the message back from these meetings, where the curtain is peeled back and we get a glimpse of the future, we need three things:

  1. A way to show them the movie -- not just the ending, but how we got there (shared meaning and context about how the world or your industry is changing and why).
  2. A link to the compelling purpose of your organization -- the compass (your why).
  3. Alignment to your destination and direction (your vision for the future).

The last two are the compass and the destination, and you can think of No. 1 as the traffic report or weather forecast for the trip.

My action step is to help build a GPS navigation system for our organizations and our CPA members to help them thrive in the midst of this rapid change and increasing complexity. Develop a way for them to set the destination and use the compass to navigate the future and know when they are off course.

How do you carry the message back to inspire action in your organization after attending one of these meetings?

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