The Smoke Detector: Innovation in CPA Nation – We’re accountants…we’re not creative!

By Christopher Doemland posted 06-13-2017 14:08


INCPAS has been focusing on Innovation now for a while, and when my time came to contribute to the Smoke Detector blog, I had just opened up the Indianapolis Business Journal’s Innovation issue. What timing, right? It is their third annual Innovation issue, which is truly inspiring.

I just find it amazing the discoveries and creations from all types of companies, non-profits, schools and individuals. There are office buildings that give control to each individual’s space for lighting and temperature (for those of us that work in these environments, temperature is always an issue!), apps that can help you reserve a parking space or just to find open parking spaces, manufacturers that design machines and HVAC systems that will initiate a response by shipping a replacement part or schedule a service call, and my favorite from this issue is the growing of produce/plants using shipping containers that use 90% less water and no pesticides. You could plop these down almost anywhere and grow food. How cool is that? 

Innovation_White_Paper.pngOne thing I noticed in the issue was the lack of professional service companies (CPAs, attorneys, etc.). Why is that? I imagine there is still that stereotype of boring accountants that just crunch numbers all day long with no personalities. How can we be innovative? Let’s think about that a bit. It may not be of big interest to the general public, but over time CPAs have been very innovative, especially in improving audit testing and work paper generation. So much is automated these days, and that is all from innovation. 

How can we be more innovative in our respective organizations? It has to start with upper management. There needs to be encouragement and incentive for others to share ideas about their job. It is easy to knock down an idea because it “won’t work” in our environment, but we need to push ourselves to be innovative. Saying you are not creative is not an excuse. It also doesn’t have to have a technology function to it. I think we all have ideas that are always swimming in our heads. Our firm is having our annual after-season meeting to discuss what we could do better to help service our clients now and next season. That type of brainstorming is being innovative!  Something always comes out of those meetings that are innovative in our little group.

And if you need something more CPA-specific to spearhead ideas, you can even start with INCPAS’ recent Innovation White Paper that includes research, surveys and discussions on innovation happening in the profession.

I challenge you to grab the IBJ Innovation issue and look at all of the organizations that are making a difference in society. Where could CPAs fit in this issue next year? CPAs are innovative, but only our clients and customers see the results of that in our processes, etc. Also, if you care to share in general, how is your company being innovative? Do you encourage your staff to submit ideas to help improve the organization? If so, are they recognized or rewarded?

Let’s make it a goal to have a CPA in this issue next year - if I missed one already recognized this year or in previous years, please share it!


#IndianapolisBusinessJournal #innovation #CPAs #InnovationWhitePaper