In late April, I attended the annual conference run by my old employer Panalitix. The overall theme of the conference was “focus”. I believe this is one of the most important words for any business and I loved the acronym that we were reminded of:
In other words, don’t be distracted and don’t try to do lots of things at once.
Jack Daly was one of the headline speakers on day 1. I’ve seen Jack in action on a few previous occasions and he never fails to impress. One of the things he mentioned was that focus precedes success. Here are some nuggets that I took away from his session.
Jack on vision
Jack stressed the importance of having a vision for your organisation.
- You can’t get “there” if you don’t know where “there” is.
- Get people inside and outside your business excited about your vision.
- Talk about it every day
- For the leader of the business it is about being like Richard Branson who sees himself as the visionary and chief cheerleader
Jack on culture
Jack also emphasised just how valuable having a strong corporate culture is
- You want your culture to be by design, not by default
- Peter Drucker said “culture eats strategy for breakfast”
- Get the culture wrong and everything will be hard.
- Get it right and it will be easy
- Create an environment where your people want to go to work
- Win over the hearts, not just the minds, of your people
- Three good case studies on culture:
- Zappos – Amazon bought it for its culture and you can do a Zappos tour in Les Vegas to learn more. See also the book Delivering Happiness by Zappos founder Tony Hsieh
- Netflix – search for the PowerPoint slides online
- Southwest Airlines – read a book called Nuts! by Kevin and Jackie Freiberg
- “Your business plan is what you are but your culture is who you are.” Gary Kelly CEO Southwest Airlines
- There are four legs to a strong culture and just like a chair, you need all four:
- Recognition systems
Regular, personal and genuine
- Communication systems
Keep telling people about the vision and what is going on in the business to achieve it
- Personal and professional development processes
Encourage each person to have a bucket list and to share it with you
- Empowerment processes
Encourage each person to make decisions as if they owned the business
- Recognition systems
- Jack quoted a study by John Kotter who found that for the companies reviewed over an extended period, those with an outstanding culture:
- Had revenue increase by 682% v 166% for others
- Had a share price increase of 901% v 74% for others
- Had net profit increase by 756% v 1% for others
- Had job growth (employment) of 282% v 36% for others.
Jack on systems
- You must have systems and processes.
- Find the best way and consistently use it.
- Sports teams are run better than most businesses:
- They all have a playbook
- They all prepare and practice
- Build the playbook for your business
Jack on time
- If you don’t have an assistant you are one
- Focus on high payoff activities
Some real gems here from Jack. If you take just one of these and apply it you will be on your way to positive change.
Rob Pillans is an Accounting Firm Management Guru and Accounting Firm Coach, dedicated to helping accountants define their version of success, formulate the strategies and implement them. He provides hands on coaching, consulting, training, mentoring and facilitating all over Australia and New Zealand. He writes a monthly newsletter, which you can sign up for here.