I just returned from a few days at the annual AICPA Interchange Conference. This annual event brings together the leaders of state CPA societies for informative and educational sessions on issues facing their industry. Tom Hood, the CEO at the Maryland Association of CPA’s and its subsidiary the Business Learning Institute, held a fabulous general session that focused on collaboration and the pronouncement of the “sticky note” as the world’s most powerful collaboration tool. Ironic that Tom is a technology junkie, but paper sticky notes and black sharpies are his tools of choice. He’s also a customer, so of course, that makes him brilliant.

The exercise was to have disparate teams come up with the biggest issues facing the accounting industry, CPA’s, and the CPA Societies, using individual thinking, collaborative discussion (sticky notes), and then team voting to come up with the list (rearrangement of the sticky notes). Guess what?  All the teams (collectively about 300 people) came up with the same themes—variations on each to be sure—but the same core issues.  And guess what again?  This list applies to every association we work with, not just accounting:

  • Member Engagement
  • Future learning models and their impact on continuing education
  • The rate of technology change and complexity
  • The regulatory environment and its impact on the profession

In my travels to customers, I hear these same issues, whether they be a Bar Association, a Medical Association or an association serving the financial services industry—everyone is grappling with the same thing. The second one on that list, the future of learning, is something that we take very seriously here at InReach. We are constantly trying to “skate to where the puck is going to be” (to borrow a sports metaphor) to insure that our customers remain competitive with their CE offerings.

I might just have to write that one down on a sticky note.