“What got you here, won’t get you there” — Emmanuel Gobillot, author of Follow the Leader

Imagine a group of public company CFOs, controllers, and chief accounting officers discussing talent development as their No. 1 issue?

Or a group of large-firm HR people talking about how to get their partners to merely talk about (let alone start the process of) succession planning?

Or associations thinking about what they can do to help their members’ careers in a topsy-turvy world?

Or two state CPA societies thinking about learning in the future and how the current trends are impacting their members?

Or a group of young professionals talking about leading our profession in the future?

The interesting thing for me was how much they have in common.

The common thread through all of these meetings (and yes, this was how I spent my last two weeks) was how much their business fundamentals are changing. Things seem to be very different, requiring more big questions and new approaches. This post is for them and you, if you identify with these folks.

Here are my key takeaways:

  • The No. 1 issue (and opportunity) is talent development. People are the No. 1 competitive advantage. Period.
  • Everything has changed, including change itself. A hyper-competitive, slow-growth economy is forcing everyone to become agile, lean, and innovative in every area.
  • Generational issues are real and need to be addressed.
  • Learning has changed in both what people need in new skills (yes, those “soft skills”) and how learning is happening.
  • Leadership has changed. See our whitepaper from our Leadership Academy class, “What got your here won’t get you there.” 
  • Strategy has changed. The need for strategy as a continuous process versus episodic events has become a necessity.
  • Social business and social media have gone mainstream and are becoming essential tools for businesses and people.
  • Collaboration and communication are the most essential skills.

I want to focus on two of the meetings above for my major insights.

Let’s start with our Maryland Public Company Global Finance and Accounting Collaborative. The group seemed to put an exclamation point on an article that popped up on my scans from the HR Executive Online titled, The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship (HR & Finance). Here’s what it said: “Finance departments today are under enormous pressure to change. Much of the work they’ve traditionally done has been outsourced, commoditized or automated. Now they’re expected to partner with the business, helping their organizations achieve their strategic goals while using data in innovative ways to deliver more value-added services.”

In our session, we featured presentations by representatives of two of our companies, McCormick and Marriott, who talked about how their finance / accouting teams have partnered and collaborated with HR to create global strategic initiatives in finance / accounting to begin addressing strategc and systematic development of their people. They are adding a lot of emphasis on soft skills so their accounting teams can support their business units in being agile and innovative. They are doing some incredible work and we appreciate the sharing.

Here are two recent research papers that talk about the global finance / accounting talent challenges in depth:

Then I went to San Antonio to work on strengths-based succession planning with a group of HR Professionals at PKF’s national HR Conference. While the session started with succession planning, it quickly broadened to talent development, generational issues, leadership, and yes, even social media.

Here are some resources we talked about during that session:

My conclusion is summed up pretty well with this: “What got us here won’t get us there!”

What do you think? Are things really different? Why or why not?

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