Archive for the ‘Retreats’ Category

Tuesday, November 12th, 2019

Should Sole Practitioners Have Retreats?

“Stop thinking in terms of limitations and start thinking in terms of possibilities.” – Terry Josephson

If you are part of a smaller firm, with one owner or two partners and are reading this blog – my answer is a resounding YES!

Just because you don’t have a multi-partner firm doesn’t mean you should not devote a special time and place for strategic planning. Try involving your entire team in the planning session. When I have facilitated these types of planning sessions, the employees contribute an amazing amount of relevant ideas and suggestions.

Sole practitioners who include their entire team in sculpting the firm’s future are making a positive difference for their firms. I believe it is a tactic that smaller firms should embrace wholeheartedly. It’s not too late to have this type of session in December or early January. It could even be a half-day event with a follow-up session in late April.

  • Take a chance! All life is a chance. A person who goes farthest is generally the one who is willing to do and dare.
  • Dale Carnegie

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Don’t Let Day-to-Day Take Over Your Retreat

“Strategic thinking starts with the end in mind.” – Pearl Zhu

If you are planning your fall retreat, plan your agenda carefully.

So many things are going on inside the firm such as issues with people and their performance, a renegade partner or secondary office, the progress on technology upgrades, the lack of new business coming in the door and so on.

Don’t let all the daily noise cloud your retreat. Put one thing on the agenda – strategic planning – then do it.

What are the big-picture items you need to address? Things that affect the future of the firm and things that will force partners to think of the firm before themselves.

Explore and discover what your firm is truly all about (vision/mission/purpose), identify (or review) your core values, uncover what needs to be done to prepare your firm for the next generation or for an upward merger. If your firm is not growing steadily, that is a huge issue to discuss. All partners must generate new business. Discuss and document the expectations for every partner. Actually talk, face-to-face, about issues within the partner group that everyone has always swept under the carpet. Address that elephant in the room!

If you don’t have a solid strategic plan to share with your team you will soon experience turnover. Talented people can easily move on to a firm that is transparent, forward-thinking, growing and creating a culture where they can see, in advance, where their career is heading.

 

  • Be strategic about productivity. Do less exceptionally well, instead of doing more in an average way.
  • Laurie Buchanan, PhD

Wednesday, June 19th, 2019

Be Sure You Have a Plan

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra

Here is a simple message for today:

“I remember saying to my mentor, ‘If I had more money, I would have a better plan.’ He quickly responded, ‘I would suggest that if you had a better plan, you would have more money. You see, it’s not the amount that counts; it’s the plan that counts.'” – Jim Rohn

Your partner and/or management retreat is coming up. Make sure you come out of it with a plan. Don’t waste two days of your time and then not take action.

  • A goal without a plan is just a wish.
  • Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Monday, May 13th, 2019

What About Your Elephants?

“Productive conversations turn conflict into collaboration, reduce costly mistakes and create a culture of accountability.” – Marlene Chism

It’s the beginning of partner retreat season for public accounting firms.

From my experience and from many conversations with CPA partners and practice managers, during these retreats, there always seem to be an “elephants in the room.”

Elephant in the room definition from the urban dictionary:  n. A very large issue that everyone is acutely aware of, but nobody wants to talk about. Perhaps a sore spot, perhaps politically incorrect, or perhaps a political hot potato, it’s something that no one wants to touch with a ten-foot pole. 

From my experience in pre-retreat preparation, partners will individually tell their facilitator that they want the elephant in the room topic to be approached and solved but as a group, they want to avoid it completely.

The staff also are aware of the elephant in the room topic. It is difficult to address for various reasons, including power structures and cultural issues but putting it on the back burner time after time is even more disruptive.

This year actually discuss your elephant in the room. Here’s a helpful article from Marlene Chism – The undiscussables: How to address the elephant in the room. The article will also help you better express your concerns when you are giving performance feedback.

You can follow Marlene on Twitter: @StopYourDrama

  • Knowing your feelings won't change the facts, but knowing the facts can change your feelings.
  • Marlene Chism

Monday, February 4th, 2019

The Most Difficult

“The difficulty lies not so much in developing new ideas as in escaping from old ones.” – John Maynard Keynes

There is something you should do but it is very hard to do. It is difficult and challenging and easy to avoid.

As a leader in a CPA firm, you read about new trends. Many of you attend one or even more CPA firm management conferences each year. You are involved in your state society and take an active part on committees, etc. During these activities, you learn about what your firm needs to do to move successfully into the future.

You bring these ideas back to your firm. If you are a partner you probably set the date for a firm leadership (or partner) retreat. You spend a lot of money on the venue and the facilitator. You make sure that the new trends are on the agenda of the retreat.

At the retreat, the need for change and the adoption of the new trends into the firm is heartily agreed to by the attendees. A strategic plan or action plan is developed. Everyone is excited.

IntentionsIn the weeks and months following the meeting, nothing happens. You are too busy. It seems everyone else is also too busy.

The most difficult thing is taking action. As I often say when describing change inside an accounting firm, “Good intentions, no implementation.”

  • The best way out of a difficulty is through it.
  • Will Rogers

Friday, August 3rd, 2018

Flashback Friday – Commitment

“Duty is what one expects from others; it is not what one does one’s self.” – Oscar Wilde

Partner retreats and firm retreats can be very invigorating but what happens afterward?

Here’s a 2016 post about Commitment.

Have a great weekend!

  • Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.
  • Peter Drucker

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Essential Questions

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.” – Leo Tolstoy

You have gathered all of your partners for the annual partner retreat. You are not going to discuss day-to-day issues. You are all going to focus on strategic issues that will take your firm into the future.

You work diligently for one or two days and document a strategic plan. Allow time at the end of the retreat to discuss one more thing. It is David Maister’s essential questions of strategy (from his book Strategy and the Fat Smoker). Consider these questions, discuss these questions because they are the questions that are often avoided in strategic planning:

“Which of our habits are we really prepared to change, permanently and forever? Which lifestyle changes are we really prepared to make? What issues are we really ready to tackle?”

 

  • Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
  • Nelson Mandela

Monday, May 1st, 2017

One of My Favorite Topics – Implementation

“A good idea is about 10% – implementation, hard work and luck is 90%.” – Guy Kawasaki

I have blogged about it often. Why? Because there is such a need for CPAs to do what they intend to do!

I like two word phrases and I use them to describe CPAs when they return to their firm after a management conference or after the partner group returns from the annual planning retreat. Do these two, two-word phrases describe you?

Good Intentions
No Implementation

gary-adamson-598x747Last week Gary Adamson of Adamson Advisory published an article via Accounting Today titled, Strategic Planning Lives or Dies With Implementation.

Here are his Five Keys to Achieving Strategic Goals:

  1. Limit the plan to 3 or 4 key objectives
  2. Select a champion
  3. Set reasonable schedules
  4. Include staff members
  5. Balance day-to-day responsibilities with plan goals

Take a few minutes to read the entire article.

  • Do something wonderful, people may imitate it.
  • Albert Schweitzer

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Commitment

Duty is what one expects from others; it is not what one does one’s self. – Oscar Wilde

When I read the above quotation by Oscar Wilde, I immediately thought of accounting firm partners and their behavior after participating in a partner planning retreat.

Think about how you felt immediately after your last retreat. Fall is a busy time for me and I have been involved in several of these beneficial planning sessions. Usually, during the wrap-up conversations partners and other attendees feel relieved, enthused, optimistic even happy. How long does that last?

You return to the office and there are voice messages and emails that need attention. There are team members awaiting your return so they can ask questions or obtain your opinion and there are family and other personal commitments you must meet. That is why I strongly urge you to develop specific action steps that will help you accomplish the FEW important initiatives identified at your planning retreat.

Everything is changing so rapidly that it is difficult to really comprehend what your firm will need to do two years from now. To keep your firm moving forward, identify two or three initiatives, document the steps it takes to accomplish each one and commit to getting them accomplished in 12 to 18 months.

It is each participant’s duty to actively participate. See the quotation below. If you don’t commit, there are only promises and hopes, but no plans.

  • Unless commitment is made, there are only promises and hopes; but no plans.
  • Peter Drucker

Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Look Ahead

“The best way to predict the future is to create it.”

Successful business people always look ahead.

As leaders of CPA firms you should not be thinking about 2016, you should be thinking of 2017 (and beyond).  Many CPAs, in 2016, are thinking about 2015! Or, they are thinking of the last six months.

  • How did the firm do from January through April?
  • Are we ahead of last year?

CPA firm leaders should also be READING. Not just accounting, audit and tax materials, newsletters and magazines. You should always be paying attention to the economy and national and international news. You have people relying on you (your clients and your people) for their financial well-being.

Don’t settle for average. The worst danger of mediocre leaders is they bring out mediocrity in others.

Look ahead, plan now and position the firm and your clients in the best possible position for 2017. Don’t make your partner planning retreat something that reflects back or even something that investigates a current snapshot of your firm – make it a rallying point for the future.

  • You are the best author of your own future. So, the next time you sit down to write your own story, remember that you are the creator of the best chapters that could ever be written.
  • Catherine Pulsifer