“Yesterday the world changed. Now it’s your turn.” — Mike Walsh

That was how the opening keynote at the PKF Annual Meeting in Chicago began. Mike Walsh is a global speaker on future trends and author of the book Futuretainment. His coverage of future trends and how they would impact the CPA profession was though-provoking and inspiring. He challenged us all to re-imagine the profession and CPA firms. That set the context for my session on high-performing firms and succession planning, where I started with the bad news that there is no silver bullet for the succession planning conundrum.

In fact, I made the case that there are a lot of forces at work and that succession planning is just one small piece of a bigger talent development puzzle in the midst of a historical shift change in our profession.

The statistics are startling. For every two baby boomers retiring, there is only one Gen Xer to take their place. That means a major talent shortage is looming, making the issue of succession planning more critical to future success than ever.

There are five fundamental shifts at work on the CPA Profession in particular:

  1. Leadership: Leadership is moving from command and control to connect and collaborate.
  2. Learning: Winners will be those who can keep their rate of learning greater than the rate of change (L > C).
  3. Technology: Cloud, mobile, social, and Big Data are making a difference in revenue growth, profitability and retention.
  4. Generations – Four generations, and diversity are becoining major issues in talent development.
  5. Workplace – Changes in how we work and how work is organized (remote, ROWE, open spaces, collaboration).
These set the stage for our conversation where almost sixty partners of PKF firms worked on their insights and action plans.
Here are the major takeaways from the group:
Communication and engagement are key. They liked our Pat Lencioni quote, “In order to buy in, they must weigh in.”
Another favorite was the Tom Peters quote, “The four most important words in business: What Do You Think?”

Strengths-based leadership as a tool for partners and staff and to see gaps in succession.
Several tables loved the Bounce career path model and the just-in-time leadership development.
The visual succession planning timeline (slides 27 and 28) we presented with John Schnitzer of SEK as another highlight.
The career ladder is being replaced by the lattice. (Here is the book, The Corporate Lattice by Cathy Benko of Deloitte and Molly Anderson.)

Here is the research & resources we presented:

Our Business Learning Institute can help with strategic planning, curriculum design, and the Bounce.


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