Fall 2013 AICPA Council Meeting

The AICPA held is Fall Council meeting in Los Angeles last week. In addition to electing Bill Balhoff Chairman for 2013-2014, a number of information and business items were discussed. We heard from the David Morgan on the release of the Financial Reporting Framework for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises as a non-GAAP solution for reporting as well as from Billy Atkinson on the progress the Private Company Council for help to private companies in GAAP reporting. Finally, 40 years after the creation of the FASB, the profession is addressing the unique reporting needs of private companies.

There was an overview and breakout session on the future of learning commission. I addressed much of what was discussed in an earlier blog, but we also heard from Sal Kahn on the Kahn Academy. The Kahn Academy is a not for profit organization that may change the world. It all started when Sal Kahn wanted to help his cousin who was having trouble with math. It was inspiring to hear the success the Kahn Academy is having while at the same time realizing how humble Sal Kahn was and still is.

There has been a lot written about what the Kahn Academy is doing, but I think Sal put it best when he explained the real difference between how they taught through the Kahn Academy versus the traditional approach. In the traditional approach students spend a fixed amount of time on a subject with the variable being how much they learn as measured on a test – 100%, 90%, 70% etc. No matter how much or how little a person learns they move on to the next topic because they are following a strict time schedule. The Kahn Academy turns that paradigm on its head. They make the variable in the equation the time spent learning and the fixed measure the required knowledge before they can go on to the next topic. If you think about it this makes a lot more sense. In fact, it was the way things were done for centuries when students were taught in a one-on-one fashion. That model went out of fashion when we entered the industrial style of education putting dozens of kids in front of one teacher. The mass production model was more efficient in teaching the thousands of students to a basic level, but was not as effective in helping each student achieve their best result. Technology now let’s us combine the efficiency of the mass education model with the effectiveness of the one-on-one approach, and that is what the Kahn Academy is doing.

Finally we heard from the national commission on Diversity and Inclusion. One of the key deliverables from the commission will be a series of “play books” that firms and businesses of all sizes can use to become more diverse. The first will be delivered in the Spring of 2014 and will cover retention and advancement. If you are not on board with the imperative to become more diverse, then you need to research the coming demographic changes in U.S. In our lifetimes, the U.S. will become a majority minority nation. Even if you set aside client’s desire to work with diverse suppliers, you simply won’t have enough employees to successfully run your business if your staff does not become much more diverse – at all levels – than it is today. And its not immigration driving this – its birthrates – so even if you completely closed the boarder (which would do much more harm than good to the US economically) the demographic trends will still happen.

It is inspiring to see how seriously the Profession takes the need to change. I for one am very glad we are trying to proactively address the changing future rather than waiting for it to happen to us and be too late impact the results.

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