Recently, I finished "When Pride Still Mattered," an expansive 500-plus page biography of Vince Lombardi, the late Hall of Fame coach of the Green Bay Packers, whose surname is emblazoned on the trophy given to the winner of the annual Super Bowl contest.
The tome prompted me to reflect back to a blustery mid-winter day in the mid-1960s.
While with my family one weekend in New York City, my father excitedly pointed to a black-coated figure shuffling down Madison Avenue who walked with a strange gait that made his legs appear too short to reach the ground.
"Look, there's Vince Lombardi."
Like seeing any high-profile figure up close and personal, the image was not quite what I'd expected.
Instead of the larger-than-life figure I'd read about and seen on TV, and who eventually won five National Football League championships and two Super Bowls, I witnessed a squat, stoop-shouldered man with black horn-rimmed glasses nervously puffing on a cigarette.
But deflating images aside, I later learned that if Lombardi was a stickler for one basic principle for success it was simplicity and its execution.
The Packers' playbook was one of the least complex in the NFL. Lombardi's teams simply ran their trademark sweeps and off-tackle plays from uncomplicated formations and brazenly dared anybody to stop them. In practice if someone missed their assignment, Lombardi had them run it repeatedly until it was ingrained in their subconscious.
Apparently the profession is gradually adopting Lombardi's playbook.
Recently I attended a financial reporting conference where urging a simplicity with regard to standards is squarely on the agenda of the Financial Accounting Standards Board, albeit not quite with the drama of Hall of Fame halfback Paul Horning following a pair of pulling guards.
Echoing the frustration of CPAs across the nation with GAAP and its roughly 2,000 pronouncements, FASB chairman Robert Herz outlined the standard-setter's multi-year codification project where all pertinent information relevant to a particular category will be housed in one place.
FASB embarked on this ambitious project following a survey in which 95 percent of those polled supported the massive codification project.
One of the tiers in codification, Herz explained, was to pare down the number of organizations that were issuing accounting guidance, which lately seems to resemble the volume of advice emanating near a betting window at Belmont.
As Herz explained colloquially, "There was water coming out of a lot of different faucets."
But the purpose of codification was to simplify, not to change GAAP, and the results of the effort will be subjected to an outside verification process.
As one official put it, "standards should be an exercise in honest communication, not merely an exercise in compliance."
My suspicion is that had Lombardi been a CPA in lieu of a science teacher and later a football coach, GAAP would have been simplified a long time ago.
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