Monday, November 25th, 2013

Most Meetings Inside CPA Firms Suck

There, I said it. They are conducted the way they have been conducted for 30 (or more) years.

Lack of or poor communication is one of the biggest inside CPA firms. It comes out on top in most of the many surveys I have done as a consultant over the years. To many partners in CPA firms, this means they need to have more meetings – wrong!

There are so many great ways to communicate. Use the social media tools inside your firm. I urge managing partners to set-up a PRIVATE Twitter account just for people inside their firm and keep people posted on management and practice growth activities by simple tweets.

I believe that regularly scheduled update meetings are fine. Keep them brief and informational. These meetings are not a place to debate topics. It’s just what’s it’s called, an update on current happenings inside the firm. Sure you can do those with social media, too, but I want all of your people, as a group, to see each other and the firm partners face-to-face at least once a month.

Now for the important project focused, learning focused, problem-solving meetings. Why not try the Amazon method. Here’s how they do it at Amazon. I read about this in a post by Bijan Sabet. You can Google it and find lots of other information about the Amazon meetings.

There are no PowerPoint or keynote presentations. Everything is written out in a six-page memo that often contains an appendix with supporting data. The memo does not have charts or pictures. It has text.

The memo is presented at the beginning of the meeting. The attendees do not see it in advance. The meeting begins with EVERYONE silently reading the memo for 15-20 minutes. Then everyone has the same information and the meeting begins.

This method forces the presenter (or meeting chair) to do the work in advance instead of winging it in the meeting. It forces the meeting participants to pay attention to the material.

I certainly don’t believe this would work with every CPA firm internal meeting. But perhaps it will make you stop and think before you interrupt someone before you have heard the whole story. And, for project themed meetings (improving your mentoring program, streamlining workflow, considering a new software project, etc.) it might be something you should definitely TRY. Remember what I keep telling you – WTTMSW (from Tom Peters):

Whoever Tries The Most Stuff Wins
  • "We have study hall at the beginning of our meetings."
  • Jeff Bezos

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