Category: Strategic Planning

Making sure the IRS Preparers are Prepared… Backcasting & Learning Theory

Dr Dave Schrader recently (December 2016) completed a very cool dissertation pertaining to the IRS and their (in)ability to assess tax preparers’ competency, and their (in)ability to test the preparers’ preparedness. {Sure, that’s easy for you to say!}

Over that last few years, the IRS has been charged with determining Tax Preparers’ competency. (Not the CPAs, mind you, but the millions of — shall we say — undocumented tax preparers.) The problem was that the IRS had not really determined what the preparers should know, before trying to test that they knew it.

Just as the IRS was starting to launch a “testing” of competencies, the civil courts forced Congress to pull the rug out. Another year or so has passed since a volunteer compliance program is in place…  Still no uniform requirements as to what those preparers should know in order to be prepared for the tests. But most importantly, now it’s not just tests, even if they start up again. With the change in Federal Law governing competency, tax preparers must be competent every single time they sign their name to a tax return. No matter how complicated!

What could go wrong with this? ! 🙂

So, Dave’s challenge was to do a dissertation into this murky quagmire. He found out the requirements, what they should know (generally), how they should learn it, and how competency should be assessed. As an afterthought, he tied this all into learning theory. To frame the skill identification, development, and assessment model, he tied the process into a construct for an effective total learning system.

If the dissertation sounds busy, that’s why. Lots of tables and charts to guide the reader through the mundane and the details.

Anyone teaching accounting should be interested in this dissertation. The management within the IRS should be calling Dr Dave in to assist with their Preparer Preparedness Program!.

From an Human Resources (HR) or management perspective, this is a very cool study. First is the skills needed. It works backwards from the skills needed to how and where to develop those skills: education, on-the-job training, or job experience. This is most of the way to “HR backcasting” for developing the skills needed for future jobs. Although backcasting is often used pertaining to economic development, the method, by necessity, must consider skills of the workers for those future jobs.

Can’t wait for the articles that will come out of this dissertation by this accountant (Accredited Accountant, Tax Preparer, and Advisor), teacher and newly minted Doctor.


Schrader, David M. (2016). Modified Delphi investigation of core competencies for tax preparers. D.B.A. dissertation, University of Phoenix, Arizona. Dissertations & Theses @ University of Phoenix database.

Cloud Computing in the HR World

Here is a great Delphi dissertation from Dr. Tracy Celaya in 2015 entitled: CLOUD-BASED COMPUTING AND HUMAN RESOURCE MANAGEMENT PERFORMANCE:  A DELPHI STUDY

The dissertation looked at the adoption of cloud-based computing in the IT functions of HR. Specifically it addressed the adoption of cloud technologies. Very cool research related to the adoption of IT in HR and the management of the whole move of HR into the next generation of technologies.

Want to know best HRM practices? Want to know why HR is so slow to adapt to cloud technologies? This dissertation is for you. Look for articles on this topic coming out soon from the new Dr. Celaya. !:-)

Here is the abstract:

The purpose of this qualitative study with a modified Delphi research design was to understand the reasons human resource (HR) leaders are slow to implement Cloud-based technologies and potentially identify how Cloud-Based Computing influences human resource management (HRM) and HR effectiveness, and potentially the overall performance of the organization.  Business executives and HR leaders acknowledge the effect of technology on business processes and strategies, and the leader’s influence on technology implementation and adoption.  Cloud-Based Computing is fast becoming the standard for conducting HR processes and HR leaders must be prepared to implement the change effectively.  Study findings revealed characteristics demonstrated by HR leaders successfully implementing cloud technology, best practices for successful implementation, factors championing and challenging Cloud-Based Computing adoption, and perceived effects on HRM and organizational performance as a result of using Cloud-Based Computing.  The outcomes of this study may provide the foundation of a model for implementing Cloud-Based Computing, a leadership model including characteristics of technology early adopters in HR, and identify factors impeding adoption and may assist HR leaders in creating effective change management strategies for adopting and implementing Cloud-Based Computing.  Findings and recommendation from this study will enable HR professionals and leaders to make informed decision on the adoption of Cloud-Based Computing and improve the effectiveness, efficiency, and strategic capability of HR.

Outa Time, the tic-toc of Intel and modern computing.

Ed Jordan’s dissertation research looked at the future of computing. He was inspired by the thought that Gordon’s law (Moore’s law) of computing — 18 months to double speed (and halve price) — was about to break down because of the limitations of silicon chips as the go below the 14 manometer level. Since Intel lives and dies based on the silicon chip, his research was really a story into the future. When will the old chip die, and what will be the next technology?

Hall & Jordon discuss the application of this disruptive technology in their DoD procurement planning article in the Refractive Thinker related to the use of Integrated Product Teams.

His research showed that the death of the silicon chip computer would come sooner, not later. And that several options appeared likely including quantum computing.  Scientists have just made a huge breakthrough toward Quantum Computing: see the WSJ article about it here, as published in the journal Nature.

In the meantime, Intel’s approach for decades of hardware one year and software (for the new hardware) the next has broken down. The so-called Tic-Toc of Intel is now outa time. It seems to be more like 2 years (4 years, really) in the clock cycle.

So, will Intel die with the new technologies? Obviously Intel can simply invent the disruptive technologies internally, or buy it up wherever the viable invention wells up.


Debnath, S., Linke, N. M., Figgatt, C., Landsman, K. A., Wright, K., & Monroe, C. (2016). Demonstration of a small programmable quantum computer with atomic qubits. Nature, 536(7614), 63–66. doi:10.1038/nature18648

Jordan, Edgar A. (2010). The semiconductor industry and emerging technologies: A study using a modified Delphi Method. (Doctoral Dissertation). Available from ProQuest dissertations and Theses database. (UMI No. 3442759)

Jordan, E. A., & Hall, E. B. (2016). Group decision making and Integrated Product Teams: An alternative approach using Delphi.  In C. A. Lentz (Ed.), The refractive thinker: Vol. 10. Effective business strategies for the defense sector. (pp. 1-20) Las Vegas, NV: The Refractive Thinker® Press. ISBN #: 978-0-9840054-5-1. Retrieved from:

A single round (1 round) Delphi study. How can that be?

The 2007 Lentz Dissertation by Cheryl Lentz (Dr Cheryl) was interesting in many ways. One is that it was a single round study. What she was doing was following on research that had been conducted previously. So she was able to use the prior research for the information and the factors that she would have needed to gather in round 1 of a full Delphi study. I know, I know. That’s not a Delphi study then if only 1 round. But she chose to still call it a Modified Delphi, study in large part, because of the use of experts.

She recruited HR experts to do the study. The results turned out to be a bit of a conundrum, as she discussed in her 2009 article in the Refractive Thinker. But that’s another post discussion.

There are several ways to change a Delphi study from the classical approach used by RAND back in the cold war era, and therefore to categorize it as a “modified” Delphi study. One way is to use informed people, so that you avoid having to get “experts” to participate. Plus then you would have to justify the criteria used to decide what represents and expert. Another approach is not necessarily to aim for consensus.  Most studies using Delphi don’t need full consensus; often they are aiming for best practices or the most important factors. The UCLA/Delphi approach is used to get medical experts to decide on a single best protocol for treatment (in the absence of conclusive laboratory research). In this case, they do need to aim for consensus. Without enough evidence and experience, no medical protocol should be recommended at all.

So, with all that said, do you think that Dr Lentz’s dissertation with only one round (essentially a second round) should have been categorized as a Delphi study?

A whole different question is, can a Delphi study be mixed method or quantitative? (Most people think of Delphi as Qualitative?)

Hall (2009) presents a table that summarizes the various categories between/among types of nominal studies. See the next blog post here related to the conundrum of the findings in this research study.


Hall, E. (2009). The Delphi primer: Doing real-world or academic research using a mixed-method approach. In C. A. Lentz (Ed.), The refractive thinker: Vol. 2: Research Methodology, (pp. 3-27). Las Vegas, NV: The Refractive Thinker® Press. Retrieved from:

Lentz, C. A. (2007).  Strategic decision making in organizational performance: A quantitative study of employee inclusiveness. D.M. dissertation, University of Phoenix, Arizona. Dissertations & Theses @ University of Phoenix database. (Publication No. AAT 3277192).

Lentz, C. (2009). The modified ask-the-experts Delphi method: The conundrum of human resource experts on management participation. In C. A. Lentz (Ed.), The refractive thinker: Vol. 2: Research Methodology, (pp. 51-75). Las Vegas, NV: The Refractive Thinker® Press. Retrieved from:

Delphi in the DoD Procurement Team (IPT) process

Jordan & Hall published an article in the Defense Sector edition (2016, Edition X) of the Refractive Thinker related to augmenting the DoD procurement process with Delphi team planning (Jordan & Hall, 2016). Here is the summary.

Delphi Method, or Delphi Technique, is an established method for bringing teams of informed panelists, or experts, together to analyze complex and interrelated problems. Organizations use group decision-making techniques to make sound plans, plans that gain support for the decisions made and build consensus. The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) requires the use of Integrated Product Teams (IPTs) to ensure all disciplines are well represented in acquisition decisions. IPT planning process has several limitations, including the biases and inefficiencies associated with face-to-face meetings. The IPT process could be augmented to include Delphi analysis in order to develop more robust and more flexible procurement plans. Using the Delphi Method to augment IPTs could minimizing the costs and limitations of more traditional group planning while also significantly improve the quality of the procurement decisions. Delphi teams could be used with experts (or even with crowds) to provide sound analysis in many situations where the IPT process is ill equipped to produce unbiased and long-term results. Delphi teams would have the ability, as well, to look at bigger picture issues, and thereby avoid the narrow-scope, tunnel-vision analysis where most of the IPTs operate.


Jordan, E. A., & Hall, E. B. (2016). Group decision making and Integrated Product Teams: An alternative approach using Delphi.  In C. A. Lentz (Ed.), The refractive thinker: Vol. 10. Effective business strategies for the defense sector. (pp. 1-20) Las Vegas, NV: The Refractive Thinker® Press. ISBN #: 978-0-9840054-5-1. Retrieved from:

The Volume 10 book:

Using Delphi Method for planning… including Scenario Planning and Horizon Plans.

This site discusses and tracks the use of Delphi-type methods in doing all kinds of research: academic, theoretical and real-world. Businesses can use the Delphi method to identify key issues, develop scenario plans and/or do horizon planning.

Strategic Business Planning that use similar methods as those used by Delphi Method. A strategic planning workshop for strat plan development uses a modified SWOT planning situational analysis method, for example. But the Delphi Method works best for horizon planning, future new product planning and scenario planning. We like to integrate disaster recovery planning (business continuity planning) into the scenario planning process.

Strategic Planning company (Hall, Hinkelman and associates) have done research and publishing on scenario planning and Delphi Method research.

Find these articles/books at:

  • SBPs Storefront at LuLu Press: (Chapter 8 of the Guide 2.0 as well as the Economic Development Plan.)
  • Refractive Thinker(r) (Look for articles/chapters on Delphi research including the Delphi Primer.)


We like to look for that future deflection point were it would be clear to everyone, including the dog, “Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”

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