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Chair's Column: Tom Wadelton, CPA, CGMA

Feb 4, 2019

Decisions That Make a Difference

I recently participated in a thought-provoking, challenging and very energizing retreat with the INCPAS Board of Directors. At this three-day retreat, the board and several staff members discussed board task force work and recommendations, set priorities and articulated the strategic impact of our decisions..

Tom WadeltonAt the recent AICPA fall Council meeting, I talked to several other state society board chairs who were surprised we could get a three-day commitment from our entire board each year to further our strategy. I hope you are proud, as I am, that INCPAS has a board of such committed volunteers.

Since June, our board members and staff liaisons have been working hard on task force topics.

Our topics this year were: thought leadership, monetizing our value and illuminating the path to a competency-based profession. Task force members became experts in their topic and worked to build recommendations for INCPAS members. This year, each task force did an excellent job addressing topics that didn’t have easy answers.

Strategic planning, if done well, looks simple in hindsight. And, it is really hard work in the moment.

INCPAS has limited resources, like most organizations. We have a lot of great things happening and don’t have the luxury of starting new programs and turning our attention in more directions. I’m reminded of the CEO at a company where I worked reminding us that successful strategy is more about being clear about what you are not going to do than using fancy words to describe what you want to do. In light of this, we spent a great deal of time having conversations about how to best use our resources and contemplating the impact of our decisions on the strategic plan and INCPAS 2025. I saw people passionately arguing their ideas, directly challenging each other, diligently working toward common ground and willingly admitting their frustration. 

I saw people passionately arguing their ideas, directly challenging each other, diligently working toward common ground and willingly admitting their frustration.
We are always encouraged by the success of previous retreats and strategic plans. There are two examples described in this magazine issue. There is an article about the Scholars program which launched as a program based on task force work and a board retreat. There is also an article about a new Ethics course from the CPA Center of Excellence®. Years ago, a task force focused on knowledge management set this direction for the launch of the CPA Center of Excellence®. Examples like these give us confidence our decisions will make a difference.

By the conclusion of our retreat, the board made decisions about task force recommendations, prioritized those decisions and connected their impact on the strategic plan and INCPAS 2025. The staff took these decisions to begin updating the strategic plan, including proposed actions and measures of progress. This work was reviewed by the board at their first meeting after the board retreat. You will be hearing about these decisions as their impact on members is clearer.

As I reflect on our retreat, one moment stands out to me. On our second day, in the afternoon, we were dealing with some challenging topics and several people were frustrated. I surveyed the room to try to figure out the best way forward. As I looked around, I was struck by how fortunate INCPAS is to have 14 board members, also frustrated but staying engaged, caring dearly about our direction and so dedicated that they will spend three days focused on improving our professional association.


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