You need to compare apples with apples when looking to make decisions regarding #yourjourneyahead

Are you comparing apples when gathering information or are you getting distracted by a banana or pineapple when looking to make decisions on #yourjourneyahead ?

We’re all looking for positive news at this time. When it comes to finding a world we would like see more of, New Zealand is all too often elevated to the top of the list as an example of why can’t we be like them.

Undeniably decisions have been made that have helped the NZ story, but their situation is far different to that of say the UK. With a population around the same size as that found in the Birmingham Metro area, a land mass twice that of England and it’s location in the South Pacific far different to the travel crossroads/hub of somewhere like the UK, one might suggest that there journey has been an easier one to take than ours.

Key for individuals and leaders alike, is to look to reduce the noise around us. We need to focus on what we can control and influence and then own the decisions we make as we look to remain relevant to those we lead, influence or serve.


Half full or half empty – as a leader, how should we look at the world?

I was really interested to read the recent post by Channel 4 CEO Alex Mahon about how she and her team are looking to navigate the current lockdown Working practice changes at Channel 4

So much of what Alex and leaders like her are doing to lead their businesses through this period of more unknowns than knowns positively resonates with me. But as a leader/influencer should we be looking to lead with a little more positivity? If we are seen to be pessimistic and down then won’t this potentially negatively influence the mindset of those we lead?

Yes these are undoubtedly challenging times – one look/listen to the news drums this home on a daily basis. But as leaders/influencers, isn’t it our role to suck it up and look to be more positive to those we lead, influence and care for.

I appreciate that for some ‘working in isolation is ineffective, lonely and breeds anxiety’ and we have an obligation to support and protect their wellbeing and mental health. But on the flip side, enforced changes in the way we work have provided an opportunity and empowered many to gain back control and ownership of their lives by not having to fit in with outdated working practices (i.e. having to be in an office when there is little to no commercial reason to be there (full-time)).

Please do not think I’m being critical in any way here of Emma as a leader. For me, Channel 4’s move to no meeting Fridays and daily lunch breaks is all about positive leadership in delivering relevance in the new way of work. But using the planned changes at Channel 4 as an example, I wanted to explore how to ‘sell’ leadership decisions in a different way – i.e more positively!

‘working in isolation is ineffective, lonely and breeds anxiety’ versus ‘as a creative business we want to empower your wellbeing and creativity, so we’re looking to give you time not to schedule things. Time to think, breathe, catch-up and space to be creative.’

With many expecting the current UK lockdown to extend far beyond the mid-February review, the continued world of remote working is here to stay.

Being critical of myself, maybe I’m just naïve in looking to see the world as I do in a more half full rather than a half empty way. What do I know? What I do passionately believe is that as a leader, realistic and relevant positivity breeds positivity in those you lead on #yourjourneyahead

As you head out into the market to find food to feed your business, what drives your success?

I believe it’s all about your passion, honesty, openness and owning your story.

So what’s my story in trying to find success in what is a challenging and disruptive world, and why do I use nature and landscape images to illustrate my journey?

What I’m looking to do, is link my passions and what inspires me .

My core passion is all about what is around us.  From an early age I’ve loved being out and about exploring the world around me.  My education took me to agricultural college to study conservation and environmental management, and then I headed to university to read agricultural business studies.  My passion took me to the US where I worked for Utah State Wildlife Resources as a ranger, and then onto the Massachusetts Audubon Society where I studied Box Turtles.

Then the direction of my journey took a significant turn when I found a business card on the floor of pub and decided to call the person.  By taking ownership of my journey, I found my second passion – helping individuals and businesses to be relevant.

For the next 20 years I owned my journey which took me to nearly 90 countries on 6 of the seven continents – sadly there are not many businesses seeking support in Antarctica!

My journey allowed me to meet and visit with thousands of business leaders and the opportunity to listen to their stories.  I’m hugely grateful and fortunate for the experiences I’ve gained on my journey to date.

In April 2020 I lost control of my journey, and to some extent my story, when others decided that I was surplus to requirement.  12 months earlier I’d decided to leave a role where I’d been for over 10 years and which I’d loved, but I felt I needed a new challenge.  Do I regret my decision to leave?  Absolutely not.  I’ve learnt more about myself and the world around me since leaving, what in hindsight, was my comfort zone and look to challenge myself.  Since last April, the opportunity to learn has only increased as I’ve looked to build my own business and ‘Brand Me’.

Many talk about B2B, B2C and other derivatives of these.  My focus is on H2H.  People do business with people they know, like and trust.  By being open and honest about your passion(s) and story, can only help to connect you with others and to explore opportunities.

I hope my story resonates with many, and encourages them to reach out to explore how we might partner and share our journeys ahead.

So back to the question of why do I use nature and landscape pictures to illustrate my story and journey? 

Firstly, I want to combine my two passions.  I truly believe that we can all learn so much from both the beauty and wildness of nature, and understand how we might be impacting it in an ever increasingly negative way.  Individuals and businesses alike, need to become more sustainable to remain relevant to those they share, employ and serve and the world around them on their journey ahead.

Secondly, even if for whatever reasons you don’t agree with my views, hopefully the images I use will allow you to escape your here and now, the confines of the four walls around you and your Zoomed out/Teams filled days and encourage you to simply stop and enjoy the images that don’t normally appear in a business context on social media platforms.

Regarding the picture of the Northern Carmine Bee-eaters used on this post – if you haven’t seen it already, I strongly recommend you watch BBC’s A Perfect Planet – Weather.  Whatever your views on the relevance of our impact on the world around us, the story of the Bee-eaters is one that I believe resonates to the challenges we’re all facing in navigating our place and relevance in the world of today and tomorrow. 

We all need to change the way we live and work to deliver our long term relevance.  To achieve this we all need to own our story and journey ahead.

Do you know what your clients are looking for to meet their hunger for growth?

The ever changing demand on the delivery of relevant accounting services

Leadership within the accounting profession are continually being told that they have to change to remain relevant, and that the days of those firms that focus on providing traditional services are over.

The reality is that there is a lot of misunderstanding about this transition of offering which most commentators and consultants see as a small step for mankind, but for the majority of the firms the experience is more of a giant leap for the profession.

The accounting profession has seen much change in 2020, the majority of which was enforced rather than strategic, but the general opinion is that as a profession it has done better than most.

As 2020 comes to end, firms are reviewing what they will look like in 2021 and beyond on many levels, not least how they will work (i.e. in the office, at home or a hybrid model) but also how they can best support their clients.

‘Now is the time to be innovative and creative in the way accounting firms look to deliver true value’

Now is the time to be innovative and creative in the way accounting firms look to deliver true value to both their teams and clients alike, as both are questioning the true value and relationship they receive.

My fear for the profession is that it is going to lurch from what is a fairly bland and undifferentiated position of the provider of compliance services to a maybe less bland but similarly undifferentiated world of provider of advisory services.

From the results of two recent independent surveys on potential advisory offerings and needs, it is interesting to see that there does not seem to be total alignment in terms of what the profession believes are the top priorities of the market and what the pains and/or needs of market (i.e. what CFO’s who are reaching out to the profession for support) actually are.

For many, these are challenging times but there are real opportunities out there for those that have a true close relationship with their clients and are really listening to, understanding and then delivering relevant support offerings.

Leadership within the accounting profession need to take ownership of #yourjourneyahead, and the primary focus needs to be a shift from being seen as historians and the keeper/purveyor of past data and transitioning to being seen as futurists.

This transition does not mean throwing away what has got them to where they are today, rather the need to be open to listen and learn from others on what their relevance might be tomorrow.

‘leadership within accounting firms need to stop thinking like accountants when building their firm’s strategy’

When planning #yourjourneyahead, leadership within accounting firms need to stop thinking like accountants when building their firm’s strategy to be more market relevant.  When you consider how other sectors build strategy, they reach out to their accountants and other external advisors to gain insight, support and guidance – so why do the majority of accounting firms not follow this example?

As already mentioned, 2021 and beyond offer real opportunities for those with the right mindset.  Accounting firm leaders need to take ownership and reach out to others (outside of your firm) to help understand and live their story of #yourjourneyahead in delivering greater client relevance and value.

Business Vision Consulting launches Your Fractional Partner offering

Being a leader can be one of the most lonely roles there is. Identifying and maintaining firm wide relevance in meeting the needs of both clients and the talent within your firm is a far from easy juggling act to achieve – made harder if you’re also having to maintain your own book of client business.

Your Fractional Partner will be your ‘off the radar’ independent confidant and success partner to share your journey ahead with and support you by:

  • being a fresh and agnostic sounding board
  • sharing thought leadership & best practices from around the world
  • identifying new opportunities
  • designing and implementing specific actions that drive success
  • opening the minds of those around you to alternative ways of work
  • connecting you with the best/most aligned people & resources in the market

Your Fractional Partner is not about pigeonholing your needs or selling you a particular business model, process or solution. It’s all about your story, your journey ahead and how Your Fractional Partner can support your specific needs and exceed your aspired growth and success goals.

Please contact [email protected] to find out more and to start sharing you story

The building of diverse teams/workforce is key for the future success of any business

‘There’s inherent value in a diversified workforce. Diversity gives you access to a greater range of talent and broader world-views that would otherwise be completely missed. This provides insight into the needs and motivations of your whole client base, not just a particular segment of it.’ Julie (Jules) Carman from the Sage The Practice of Now 2020 Report

There are no shortage of research that suggests #diversity of thought and opinion, or being around people who are from different cultures/backgrounds, empowers teams to be more creative, diligent and hard-working. The building of diverse teams/workforce is key for the future success of any business (particular for #accountingandaccountants and other professional service sectors) and this can only be achieved by having a clearly defined and lived to common purpose and hiring people who will thrive under the core values of the business.

Does your business stand out from the crowd by having a clear purpose?

McKinsey & Company found that purpose can be an important contributor to employee experience. They found that business with clear purpose had higher levels of employee engagement, stronger organisational commitment and increased feelings of well-being.

While business leaders prioritise the commercial value of purpose, employees see purpose as a way to bring meaning to their work and understand the contributions they are making to the company, as well as society.

PwC survey found that 79% of business leaders think that purpose is central to business success. Even with this level of importance only 34% of leaders make and align decisions to their organisation’s purpose. The survey found that Millennials are over 5 times (Non-millennials over 2 times) more likely to stay when they have a strong connection to their employer’s purpose. Again only a limited number of business leaders (only 27%) of help employees connect their own purpose to the work of the company.

All too often leadership do not place enough focus and importance on purpose. This is especially the case within the professional service sector. Never has there been a better time for business’s to have a a clearly defined purpose and truly live it.


So what is leadership?

Many people have looked to define what leadership is in more books than anyone can find the time to read.

In the world we find ourselves in leadership has never been more important, but what defines a true leader?

“The only definition of a leader is someone who has followers.” – Perter Drucker
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” – Warren Bennis
“As we look ahead into the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates
“Leadership is influence – nothing more, nothing less.” – John Maxwell
“Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.” – Kevin Kruse

Kevin Kruse highlighted the above quotes in a Forbes article back in 2013

7 years on, and as businesses seek to deal with the challenges and opportunities of what can only be described as one of the most disruptive periods in a generation or (potentially more), true leadership has never been more important.

Developing from the themes above, my view on leadership is that it is a process of social influence founded on shared values that empowers others to individually excel while looking to maximise their combined efforts in achieving a clearly defined purpose.”

What are your thoughts?


Meetings for meetings sake – think before you schedule one!

Martin Luenendonk article published in Forbes last year stated that 37% of meetings are considered to be adding no value to the organization and that the average middle level manager spends around 35% of their time in meetings.

According to a study by Bain & Company organizations spend about 15% of their time in meetings.

Research by Infographic showed that 91% of employees have daydreamed during a meeting, 39% have reported sleeping during a meeting, 45% have felt overwhelmed by the number of meetings they had to attend, 73% have done other work during a meeting, and 47% of employees have complained that meetings are the number one time waster at the workplace.

The above were prior to Covid-19 and the associated changes in working practices and the en masse move to Zoom, MS Teams and other platforms.

Prompted by a Bob Harper post I do ask myself what these statistics would be today.

Clearly video conference resources have supported the continued connection and collaboration of teams. However, without a strategic approach to the new way of remote/flexible working and the continued use of these online communication tools, there is every chance that even more valuable time is being wasted in having meetings for meetings sake. #workingfromhome#strategy#yourjourneyahead

It’s not just goats that need to be agile in today’s world

In response to Covid-19, professional service firms have had to adapt to new ways of work that are now the ‘new norm’. 

Agility is now a key success factor to the continued relevance of many firms but agility has not historically been associated with operational success of (in particular) accounting and law firms.

Agile firms can quickly redirect their people and priorities toward value-creating opportunities. McKinsey  & Company have identified five operating-model dimensions to drive agility:

1.      Strategy – a shared purpose and vision embodied across the organisation

2.      Structure – a network of empowered teams

3.      Process – rapid decision and learning cycles

4.      People – dynamic people model that ignites passion

5.      Technology – next-generation enabling technology

Considering a clearly defined strategy as a starting point, many accounting and law firms are quick to promote and talk about their purpose, values and vision (story) but rarely truly live to these ideals. All to often leadership teams look to these critical foundations to success as a DIY/tick box exercise.

By failing to get the purpose, vision and story right, they fail (among other things) to ignite and sustain passion within their people and in turn do not have empowered teams. Accounting and law firms tend to focus too much on technology and process because these are within the comfort zone of the technical mindset/competencies of most firm leaders. 

Get it right on purpose, values and having a relevant story, your firm will be agile (by creating firm wide engagement and trust towards change) and this will also lead to increasing your reputation and visibility within your market(s) as a firm of choice.