There's no bigger scam going than the predict-the-future racket. Given the rate of change today, tomorrow is nothing more than a crapshoot. Predict the future? I can't predict 30 minutes from now, let alone next week, next month, or next year.
Still, there are glaring trends that point to logical steps we might have to take to survive. Smarter people than me are seeing clear opportunities down certain paths — and clear roadblocks down others.
A couple dozen of those people were on hand for the MACPA's 2012 Leadership Academy. Their job was to pinpoint some high-leverage opportunities on which the profession must focus its efforts going forward, then determine which of those opportunities are most important.
As I heard their ideas take shape, I was slapped by a serious case of deja vu.
In any series of future-focused exercises, the really important ideas tend to surface over and over. Consider the high-leverage opportunities identified by the 2011 Leadership Academy class and this year's group:
Now look at the top trends that CPAs nationwide identified as part of the CPA Horizons 2025 project:
- Technology as a driver of change vs. an enabler
- Pre-certification and lifelong learning
- A worldwide profession
- Pride in the profession
- The notion of CPAs as trusted attesters
- The notion of CPAs as trusted advisors
- Market permission
- Marketplace changes
- A focus on the profession’s value proposition
- Demographic shifts
Certain issues keep repeating themselves, don't they? Demographics. A multigenerational workforce. Work-life integration. Technology. Globalization. Adding value to our clients' lives.
Are you thinking about these things? Are you trying to figure out what you're going to do about them going forward? Or are you heads-down on today's project, blissfully ignoring the future as it comes barreling down on you?
Sure, we're all busy. But if we don't stop to look up and notice the changes speeding toward us, we'll get trampled when tomorrow becomes today.
The MACPA's Leadership Academy knows that. They've vowed to continue the conversation, perhaps to even draft a white paper that expands on the publication produced by the Leadership Academy's Class of 2011. Stay tuned.
They're not trying to predict the future. They're just trying to make sure we're ready to act once the future arrives — that we're nimble enough to act on what we see coming, not just react to it once it gets here.