Recently David Brooks had an article posted in the Baltimore Sun digital edition. Brooks was talking about how to make America great. It was a very well written and thoughtful article. The idea, however, was universal about all things to make great. When one finds stagnation, broken structures, and a lessening of positive outcomes, change is required. The reason I mention the article is not political but rather because of the line, I read after two separate calls with two different accounting firms on two different coasts.

“I’ve found that about a third of the people I encounter in this work get the power of culture and the importance of culture change, and two-thirds don’t really see the culture. They focus exclusively on what can be quantified.”

In both discussions, the Partner owner was stressed. Now given that it was 4 days after October 15, 2020, the stress was to be expected. An extended tax season, COVID-19, and virtual work (a first world problem) all against a backdrop of the deluge of apps, trade journals, and society driven information telling them they can be a firm for the future.

Both of these gentlemen had exactly the same problem. They bought all the tech, went to all the classes, webinars, and moved to flat-rate and value-added billing but nothing changed. They were still backed up on work with clients not caring and not finding value and employees saying they were so very busy. They had forgotten the last part of all this firm of the future and AI promise, stated so succinctly in Brook’s article.

“And yet changing the national (place Firm in here) mindset, the values, the norms, is the difficult and necessary work.”

What had they not done? Shown both the employees of the firm and the clients what the change could bring and how it could be accomplished. Change is a cause for fear for most living things. But change also brings the required growth. So, guess who realized they had to change first? Yep both partners, in two different firms, on two different coasts with exactly the same problem had to be the first step in the change. Take ownership of what you want your firm to be.

I gave them a seven-step outline to go through with their employees. Told them to set up a Zoom/Teem/ Humm/Blue jeans… whatever meeting. Send out DoorDash coupon codes so they could buy them all lunch and spend 1-2 hours going over steps 1-3 of the seven-step plan while enjoying the lunch.

Got two nice responses the next week with proof of the start of change. This is a process. A process is never just one step one time.