Welcome to Change Your Mindset (formerly known as Improv Is No Joke) where it is all about believing that strong communication skills are the best way in delivering your technical accounting knowledge and growing your business. The way of building stronger communication skills is by embracing the principles of applied improvisation. Your host is Peter Margaritis, CPA a.k.a. The Accidental Accountant, will interview financial professionals and business leaders to find their secret in building stronger relationships with their clients, customers, associates, and peers, all the while, growing their businesses.
Ep. 72 – Bill Sheridan | Human Work in the Age of Machines: How to be a Future-Ready CPA
Only 8 percent of CPAs believe that the profession is future ready, according to CPA.com’s study Welcome to the Fast Future. This is a rather concerning statistic because the future is coming, and it might be closer than you think.
Bill Sheridan, Chief Communication Officer at the MACPA, is on the front lines trying to prepare CPAs for the future, and he recently published a new white paper that every CPA should read: Human Work in the Ages of Machines: Five Steps for Building a Future-Ready Finance Team.
Basically, the paper asks what happens when more and more of the things that accounting and finance professionals are trained to do are being done by machines, and what does that mean for our profession?
Because these technological changes are going to happen whether we like it or not, there’s nothing we can do except learn how to do the things that machines can’t do and work with them (or go out of business).
We have to go beyond being just number crunchers and become number interpreters; we have to be able to understand what we’re viewing and become better communicators.
The futurist Peter Sheehan puts this another way: we’ve entered an age when humans should only do work that only humans can do, and everything else is going to be automated.
This means that CPAs will need a new set of eight core skills, if they want to remain relevant going forward:
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Anticipating and serving evolving needs
- Synthesizing intelligence to insight, or providing the insight to the numbers
- Integration and collaboration
- Tech savvy and the ability to analyze data
- Functional and domain expertise.
6/8 of these skills were also identified in the Horizons 2025 project. We tend to ignore stuff like that until it’s almost too late – until the stuff that is on the horizon suddenly gets closer and is threatening to steamroll us.
We waited, and now it’s crunch time.
Bill doesn’t believe that the problem with CPAs is that we’re too introverted to learn these soft skills. Bill believes the big problem holding us back is that accounting is a rear-facing profession. We’ve been trained to look in the rearview mirror, and so that’s what we’ve done for decades and decades.
Now we’re at a point where we have to start looking through the windshield a little bit more and learn how to become a more forward-facing profession, which means figuring out what we need to do to stay relevant tomorrow rather than just accounting for what happened yesterday.
Bill developed the Five C’s for staying relevant through the change:
- Context – What are the big changes going on around us? There’s three hard trends converging: technological advances, changing demographics, and new legislation.
- Certainty – What can we be certain will happen? The futurist Daniel Burrus says your odds of succeeding go up and the risk of failing goes down, when you start basing your strategy around things that you know are going to happen.
- Capacity – It’s going to take time for us to learn how to become future ready, and we’re all busier than ever before. But we make time for the things that are important to us.
- Competencies – As discussed previously, we’re going to have to learn an entirely new set of skills. Key among them is anticipation: learning how to spot future trends before they happen and position our organizations to take advantage of them, before the competition, is actually a skill that you can learn.
- Core Values – In a world where everything seems to be changing around us, it’s really kind of comforting to know that there are some things that should never change: our core values. The core purpose of this profession, as established by Vision Project, is to make sense of a changing and complex world.
How to Take Your First Steps Towards the Future
Trying to become future ready all at once is overwhelming, and more or less impossible. However, now is a great time to start building future-ready habits.
Bill suggests you start with a simple exercise: schedule one hour a week for yourself, and actually put it in your calendar. During that hour, do something like read a book that will help you prepare for the future, or ask your team what productivity apps they like and start implementing them.
In the resources below, you will find a number of valuable books and resources to learn from during your weekly time block, including Human Work in the Ages of Machines.
- Connect with Bill on LinkedIn
- Human Work in the Ages of Machines: Five Steps for Building a Future-Ready Finance Team
- The Second Machine Age by Andrew McAfee and Erik Brynjolfsson
- Humans are Underrated by Geoff Colvin
- Only Humans Need Apply by Thomas Davenport and Julia Kirby
- The Fourth Industrial Revolution by Klaus Schwab
- The 2020 Workplace by Jeanne C. Meister
- Traction by Gino Wickman
- Thank You for Being Late by Thomas Friedman
- Brain Rules by John Medina
Production & Development for Improv Is No Joke by Podcast Masters
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