Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

Innovation and Abandonment

December 19, 2009 Leave a comment

A prior post of mine was titled “Let Go of the Old”. Recently,  I ran across a chapter in Peter Drucker’s book “The Definitive Drucker” titled, “Innovation and Abandonment”, where he dug deeper into the theme of new vs. old. Here are a few of his quotes:

“If you don’t understand innovation you don’t understand business.”

“Innovation is about shaking loose from yesterday’s world so that we gain the freedom to create tomorrow.”

“You can’t throw everything out, or you’ll have anarchy. You can’t hold on to everything or you’ll die.”

“Without the will to take risks, to venture into the unknown and let go of the familiar past, a corporation cannot thrive in the twenty-first century.”

“Systematic abandonment is both the most important and most difficult step in innovation.”

“The entrepreneur always, searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.”

“All assumptions must be challenged”.

All businesses should be in the midst of Innovation and Abandonment. Look around. Are your key personnel, your top thinkers… experiencing and struggling through the process of Innovation and Abandonment? If they are not, you should be concerned.

Innovation and abandonment were at the core of Drucker’s thinking. He believed that the best way to predict the future was to create it. You can play a key role in helping your organization create its future. How?

First, by taking a few moments to grasp the concept of  innovation and abandonment.  And second,  make certain you maintain a sense of urgency to learn the new, to embrace the changes with a positive attitude, and to provide/reach out for constructive feedback. It’s this  feedback/input that allows for  improvements to be made as quickly as possible.

Let’s not stymie our innovation by excessive and/or blind loyalty to the old way of doing things.

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Categories: Leadership Tags: , ,

What Matters Now…by Seth

December 15, 2009 Leave a comment
Here’s a read that’s a must as we wind down 2009 and look forward into 2010. And it’s free!
Free from Seth Godin…an ebook just released yesterday.

He’s pulled together more than seventy big thinkers, each sharing an idea to think about as we head into the new year.
So…put your thinking cap on!
Categories: Leadership, Social Media

Lifelong Learning

December 13, 2009 Leave a comment

“Yep…that’s me, learning every day.”

My guess is that this is the response that runs through most of our heads when we hear the reference to “Lifelong Learning” (LLL).

Here’s what Wikipedia says about Lifelong Learning:

Lifelong Learning is the concept that “It’s never too soon or too late for learning”, a philosophy that has taken root in a whole host of different organizations. Lifelong Learning is attitudinal; that one can and should be open to new ideas, decisions, skills or behaviors. Lifelong Learning throws the axiom “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks” out the door. Lifelong Learning sees citizens provided with learning opportunities at all ages and in numerous contexts: at work, at home and through leisure activities, not just through formal channels such as school and higher education.

In a Leadership Foundation class I completed last year, I learned that transformational LLL requires a much different mind set. In the class, which I have to give credit to for stirring my innate Learning strength, we unpacked the following learning questions:

Why should I learn?

What should I learn?

How can I learn?

Why should I learn? … dealt with the motivation that is necessary for LLL. We each need to discover our own motivators. Here were a few motivator examples provided:

1)       We live in the information age and more than any time in history, life is all about information, getting it, processing it, interpreting it, understanding it and utilizing it. In such a world, learning is a core skill.

2)       Closely related to 1) is the reality of change. Life is constantly changing. The speed of change, the intensity of change, the power of change and the outcomes of changer are greater than ever before. In a world of change, success goes only to those who can keep up with the change. Those who do not change will not survive.

3)       Learning means growing. Think of words that describe the opposite of growth. Stunted, stagnant, stale, stuck, frustrated, inactive, regressing, retreating, boring, irrelevant, outdated, obsolete, aborted, complacent, etc. are words that describe the lack of growing and learning. Why would anyone want those words used to describe them?

4)       Your untapped potential will be tapped through the learning process. Without an active learning process/model, you will not achieve your true potential.

5)       There are many, many others….

What should I learn?… is about the direction. Where should I direct my learning energies? Here is where you tap into the question of what field or what area or what topic of study. This requires you to become self-aware of what is important, useful and necessary for your personal and professional life.

How can I learn?…is about the plan/strategy. This is very similar to what our staff has experienced in the A & D process in outlining an approach that explains in concrete, realistic ways – what you will do to learn what you want to learn.

Deep, meaningful, and transforming Life Long Learning doesn’t happen by accident. It requires discipline, sacrifice, hard work, and commitment…and yes, you may have to cut back on your nightly TV time if you’re serious about LLL.

Have you embraced LLL?

Do you have a plan?

What a great time to develop a plan… and start the learning journey as we enter 2010!

And remember –

LLL is a marathon, not a sprint. What matters most though is that you start the race well, and keep a good pace while realizing there are many more miles (and years) that lie ahead.

Categories: Leadership Tags:

The Best Darn Payroll Guide…for Federal and Pennsylvania guidance.

December 11, 2009 Leave a comment

For a great number of years…Stambaugh Ness has provided a free, annual payroll tax seminar for the business community in South Central Pennsylvania. This December event has always been well-attended by our clients and friends.

This year was a record-breaking year! We experienced a 49% increase in attendees, including 120 first-time attendees.

What do we attribute this to? Most probably it’s a direct return from our strategic CRM (customer relationship management) and social media efforts.

We’re so delighted …and in the spirit of the holiday season…we are giving/providing a very valuable payroll seminar take-away – The Stambaugh Ness @2009-2010 Payroll & Payroll Tax Guide for the benefit of those who are responsible for the payroll function.

SN 2009-2010 Payrol & Payroll Tax Guide

(patience required as it is a large file)

We hope you find this of value and we look forward to your feedback.

Categories: CPA

How are you doing with Delegation?

December 10, 2009 Leave a comment

We have all heard it before “…to be effective, you must learn to delegate”.

Very few of us do it well, and most of us struggle with it on a regular basis.

In a recent article I read written by a consultant to the CPA profession, it was estimated that many partners and other senior members in CPA firms often spent 60% to 80% of their time on tasks that they are comfortable doing, but which could easily have been done by someone at a lower staff level.  If this is even close to being accurate for you…imagine what you could accomplish if only you would “delegate” ½ of the so called 60-80% of work!

Here is what Peter Drucker says about delegation:

“I have never seen a knowledge worker confronted with his time record who did not rapidly acquire the habit of pushing on other people everything that he need not do personally. The first look at the time record makes it abundantly clear that there just is not time enough to do the things the executive himself considers important, himself wants to do, and is himself committed to doing. The only way he can get to the important things is by pushing on others anything that can be done by them.”

The Effective Executive, pp. 37-38

How Capable Leaders Blow It

“One of the ablest men I’ve worked with, and this is a long time back, was Germany’s last pre-World War II democratic chancellor, Dr. Heinrich Bruning. He had an incredible ability to see the heart of a problem. But he was very weak on financial matters. He should have delegated but he wasted endless hours on budgets and performed poorly. This was a terrible failing during a Depression and it led to Hitler. Never try to be an expert if you are not.

Build on your strengths and find strong people to do the other necessary tasks.

“Interview by Riuck Karlgarrd, Peter Drucker on Leadership,” Forbes.com, November 19, 2004

David Maister also weighs in on this topic…”It is the worst and most prevalent bad habit among professionals adversely affecting the interests of clients, partners and juniors. However, it is ingrained and takes a tough, insistent managerial program to remove it. There should be no tolerance for under-delegation.”

Which of the activities on your time log/calendar over the past month could have been done by somebody else?

Which activities do you continue to do mainly because “…you’re comfortable doing them”?

Which ones are routine, repetitive, or require very little skill?  Is it low-risk?

Still not certain what you can or should be delegating?…ask for and be willing to accept constructive feedback.

Your development as a professional and your contribution to your organization’s future successes can be accelerated by your mastery of delegation. Delegation techniques/processes can be learned. If you want to learn more about delegation, check out this blog post on Effective Delegation.

Categories: CPA, Leadership

Few do it well – from success to significance

December 5, 2009 7 comments

At least that’s my current observation.

Do most successful people, which you can define any way you like, reach their destination and quit? Well, maybe not quit, but do most enter a “maintenance mode”, doing only what they need to…to preserve their level of success? Playing it safe, taking no chances, holding on to stability.  Said another way, once they “arrive”, is coasting inevitable? Is it that they’ve hit a plateau? a wall? Have they given all they had, last chapter – end of story?

Lots of questions…just some of which have been in my observation and reflection lens recently.

My take aways from some recent readings show that a common characteristic of some individuals nearing the first half of their life, develop an unquenchable desire to move from success to significance. After spending a period of time doing what they were suppose to do, they now search for something in the second half that is more meaningful and which meets their definition of significance. This can be a restless, challenging & invigorating time. It can also be the time period which results in a midlife crisis – which unfortunately for  many lead to bad decisions, and a journey into the wilderness.

Here’s a quote that has been attributed to Peter Drucker, “people now have two lives — life one and life two…. They are over prepared for life one and under prepared for life two…there is no university for the second half of life.”

I want to go deeper into stories of those who navigated successfully this period of success to significance.

What are your observations?

Who do you know, and what are their stories that are shining examples of navigating from success to significance?

Categories: Leadership Tags: , ,

Let Go of the Old!

December 3, 2009 1 comment

When I reflect on today’s current technology and business processes, and the sea of changes in how we do business today vs just a few years ago, my first reaction is …Wow! Aren’t we so blessed to experience these incredible advances?

My second reaction presents this question, “how are we adapting to these incredible advances and the never ending changes?”.

Some recognize that change is just part of life, and their attitude is one of exciting anticipation and embrace. Others are overwhelmed by change, tend to fight it, and are finding it increasingly difficult to “keep up”.

If you are one who is feeling overwhelmed, my recommendation for you is to adopt the mantra “Let Go of the Old!”, and embrace the new. I know, easier said than done.  But, as with many things in life, this is really about adopting the right attitude in these fast-paced times

How do you know if you are one who may be holding onto the “old”? Every environment has its clues, depending on the business processes and specific advances in technology. Here are a few clues that you’d find in a CPA firm environment.

  • Still using a day-timer to manually record your time?…then entering your time at a later time.
  • Do you print WIP sheets to do your billing…instead of billing on-screen?
  • Do you print client invoices and file them?
  • Are you printing tax returns so that you can review them?
  • Are you printing other documents to read, highlight, forward to others?
  • Are you using our desktop instant messenger?
  • Are you thinking “…this paperless environment talk doesn’t pertain to me”.
  • Still presenting a paper expense report for reimbursement?
  • Are you daydreaming/reminiscing about the “good old days”?
  • Are you storing lots of emails into various folders ?…you shouldn’t be.
  • Do you have  lots of documents haphazardly saved to your desktop?…you shouldn’t.
  • Is your Groupwise calendar not reflective of your current intentions and obligations?
  • Still holding onto a lot of client work?…because everyone seems busy.
  • Are you still commenting “…if only there was more communication” yet, you haven’t made it a priority to read the latest communication in the firm’s weekly newsletter and its intranet.
  • On a scale of 1-10, with 10 as an expert…if you rate a 6 or below in word, excel and adobe, you aren’t keeping up.
  • Do you find yourself at the copier on a regular basis?..walking away with paper.
  • You regularly walk to the fax machine to retrieve your fax. You should be receiving most faxes directly to your desktop.
  • Do you send an email to staff requesting meeting dates & times? How about sending an appointment.
  • Still preparing manual “to do” lists?

If any of these struck a chord with you, be careful not to dismiss it too quickly or rationalize that “your method” is best for you.

By continuing to hold onto the old, you are choosing not to experience the growth opportunities and efficiencies that the new can bring.

By continuing to hold onto to the old, your organization cannot maximize the return on investment that it has made  in technology and processes.

By continuing to hold onto the old, you will find yourself with an ever increasing skill set gap, which will cause you even more frustration as we move forward.

Action item to consider:

Take inventory today of the 3 things that you need to change…and be prepared to struggle through a number of days until you break the old habits. Write down the 3 items and identify the specific steps you will take to make the change. Seek out an associate or trainer to assist you and/or to hold you accountable.

Let me know how you’re making out…I love to hear success stories, and if you’re struggling, let’s talk about it!

Categories: CPA Tags: ,