Seeing our blindspots, growing into the future

June 1, 2019

by Kari T. Patterson, 2019-20 OSCPA Board Chair

With so much information coming at us all the time, what makes you want to pay attention to a particular item such as an article, a commercial, a presentation, or an email? With the constant barrage of information from so many sources, how do you manage to keep focused on the things you really need to see? It’s a part of almost everyone’s daily routine now, especially at work. Though staying in touch is key to relationships, as we increase communication via telephone, email, instant messaging, text messaging, meetings, or good old face-to-face conversations, working without distraction can become a challenge.

So, with all this information flying at us, how do we stay focused and make sure we are still making sound decisions? At the OSCPA Strategic Leadership Forum, held May 5–7, 2019, at Skamania Lodge in Stevenson, Washington, we heard from Kevin McCarthy, who spent 33 months in federal prison for a fraud crime that he didn’t “knowingly” commit. You can learn more about Kevin’s story in his book, Blindspots: Why Good People Make Bad Choices.

As I listened to Kevin talk about blindspots, which we all have, I thought about how busy so many of us are. While everyone makes mistakes, it’s critical to minimize the number and magnitude of those mistakes, but rapid-fire information and the expectation for immediate answers only increase the chances for mistakes. Though it sounds simple, we have to remember to slow down and think about the decisions we’re making and the messages we’re sending.

Our profession is built on the foundational premise that we are trusted advisors. Along with trust comes the need and expectation of high accuracy, which makes prioritizing our tasks and calendars all the more important. As trusted advisors, we get to be a voice that people listen to versus the messages that go automatically to the trash or recycle bin.

Historically, the trusted advisor role is based on the Certified Public Accountant credential: People recognize the CPA as trustworthy, committed, and knowledgeable. This is because of professionals who, long before our time, recognized the need and value-add of being more than just an accounting graduate. Now, it’s our turn to uphold and support the credential that has served all of us so well.

The world around us is changing. Technology, data analytics, robotics, artificial intelligence, information overload, and more are all potential blindspots as we navigate our evolving profession. We must also change in order to remain relevant and vibrant.

Have you heard of CPA Evolution? The CPA Evolution project is a collaboration between AICPA and NASBA designed to envision what it means to be a CPA today and in the very near future — while maintaining the integrity and foundational values of the profession. I encourage you to follow this topic as it surfaces over the next several months.

As the times are changing, so is the profession. Let’s make sure that together we set the foundation for future generations of CPAs.
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