Case Studies | Change / transformation | Learning / Education

Our journey to become The ANTICIPATORY ORGANIZATION ™

I still remember meeting Daniel Burrus in October, 2012 at the CCH Users Conference in San Diego. He started his talk with "Are you really busy?"

He went on to say that the executives at Blockbuster, Sony, and GM were also really busy as they were going out of business! That got my attention.

Bill Sheridan, our Chief Communications Officer and I got to interview him at that conference and Bill wrote this post, Don't just keep up with change, blow it away.

Fast forward to 2014 and our own organizations, MACPA and BLI, were feeling the disruptive forces of technology and demographics as we faced on-line competition for our training business and longer lead times for prospective members to pass the CPA exam. We saw these as three converging changes These converging forces were:

  1. The skills our members need are changing. Thanks to Daniel Burrus’ foresight and our own research, we’ve identified “anticipation” as the key competency that CPAs will need to succeed going forward.
  2. The way members learn those skills are changing. Dan Burrus’ model focuses on visual “microbursts” of education – video-based modules that are about 3-4 minutes in length, followed by job aids and self-directed learning activities that teach members how to capture the power of anticipation.
  3. The MACPA’s business model is changing. We are undergoing what Rita McGrath might call the need for “deft resource re-allocation” – shifting resources from some declining core initiatives to new, more innovative ones. We’re “jumping the S curves,” moving away from traditional, downward-trending models in search of innovative, upward-trending models that create new sources of value for our members and customers.

These changes led us to reconnect with Dan and discuss how we could work with him on his  Anticipatory Organization™ Model an exciting program to help individuals and organizations learn how to be 'anticipatory'.

We started working with Dan and his team at Burrus Research and formed a co-creation group of our Board of Directors and a community of forward thinking CPAs from every area of the Profession - small practitioners, CFOs, public company financial professionals, large firm managing partners, NFPs, government, etc. They came together in November and customized Dan's program to create the  Anticipatory Organization: Accounting and Finance Edition ™. This innovative learning system is designed to provide the foundational skills of being 'anticipatory' and 'future ready' and would push the boundaries of how we learn as well as what we learn. It was the perfect project to jumpstart our ability to deal with these disruptive forces and be of benefit to our members and customers.

My team always hates it when I say that we need to 'eat our own dog food', a saying that says we need to believe in and use what we offer to our members and customers. So, you guessed it, we needed to be the beta users to test the customization and learn how to be an anticipatory association.

Here is the result of our work that we recently unveiled at our annual meeting:


In order to help our members and customers deal with the accelerating pace of change, we had to make these changes our selves.

While we are far from done, we are moving forward to an exciting future view we have created together with our team and our Board of Directors (pictured above).

We did a collaboration session after each module of the AOAF learning system (28 lessons in four modules) and here are some of the insights reported from our team members:

  • Dedicate time each day to think about the future and anticipate problems and opportunities BEFORE they happen to me.
  • Generally thinking about things differently -- is this the same old same old? Could we skip something? Go opposite? How could we be better? Stronger? Faster? BIONIC!!!
  • Keep my L>C by scheduling that one hour a week as suggested and choosing to be extraordinary
  • We talked about the language change at the Board meeting and I hear it with our team too. I want to use it more and acknowledge others who are doing the same.
  • Choose to be extraordinary, Apply the "time travel audit" to understand where people are.
  • Scheduled time for review of the concepts relative to whatever I am facing that week, also scheduled time in our weekly team meeting to discuss.
  • By practicing together, our culture will be about anticipatory thinking and service. A common language and connection.

These impacts are real and have helped us work better together to be more innovative and, well, anticipatory. Having everyone with a shared 'future view', a common language around strategic thinking, and tools that support better collaboration and communication are the benefits of going through the learning system together. We are now working on ways to sustain and reinforce these concepts in our everyday work together.

As a leader, I feel our team is well equipped to meet the challenges and opportunities that this fast future has in store for us, our members and our customers.

My future view for MACPA and BLI is very bright and we have made the   Anticipatory Organization: Accounting and Finance Edition ™ a foundational learning requirement for every member of our team and our Board of Directors so that we can continue to choose to be extraordinary.

Let us help you become an anticipatory organization by visiting us at



Tom Hood