Leadership / Management | Training & CPE

Twelve steps to find and seize opportunities

Dsc05547 Just back from the Lean Accounting Summit at the Disney Yacht and Beach Club in Orlando. We were there representing the MACPA and BLI and with our friends from the Florida Institute of CPAs (Brent Johnson Ned Campbell) and the AICPA (Chris McKittrick).

This conference was amazing and is now on my "must-attend" list. The format allowed for plenty of time to connect with the thought leaders and collaborate with participants and sponsors. Kudos to conference organizers and lean evangelists, Jim Huntzinger and Dwayne Butcher.

One highlight was the keynote speech by Jim Swartz, based on his latest book, Seeing David in the Stone. Jim has spent his life in manufacturing companies and consulting on lean manufacturing and lean accounting, but this book goes way beyond L-E-A-N. It is for anyone who wants to find and seize breakthrough opportunities that are required to stay competitive in today's environment.

I sat down with Jim and his daughters (who are also in the business) at the show. Their thoughts are summarized as "Finding Great Opportunities" (steps 1-4), "Mobilize Support" (steps 5-8) and "Seize Great Opportunities" (steps 9-12).

Here are Jim's 12 steps:

  1. Differentiate yourself for opportunityDsc05591_3.
  2. Use powerful learning processes.
  3. Learn to envision opportunities.
  4. Select only high-leverage opportunities.
  5. Find the highest meanings of others.
  6. Co-create with those eager for opportunity.
  7. Sell the opportunity to those who are cautious.
  8. Find common meaning with and negotiate with opposers.
  9. Use superior design and planning processes.
  10. Seize rapidly at high-leverage points.
  11. Deliver rewards.
  12. Develop other innovators and high achievers.

Lean_swartz_10pct_2 Why do you need to do this? Swartz would say, "Simply to survive." He argues that every business needs to increase its value offerings in the market and reduce costs by 10 percent per year to survive. Jim told powerful stories of how these principles were applied by 70 great leaders, from Michaelango to Bill Gates.

Two things really resonated for me:

  1. Jim's principles consider the realities of change management and the adoption curve in getting buy-in.
  2. The stories and insights are developed from the failures of great leaders as much as the successes.

Download Jim's keynote presentation here.

I learned what "lean accounting" is all about in a chat with the conference keynoter, Art Byrne, former CEO of Wiremold. I asked, "What is lean really about?" He replied, "It is simple: A way to crush your competition, period!" Now it all makes sense, and I think every CPA should be thinking about how they can apply these principles to their businesses, regardless of what industry they are in.

I was also fortunate to be part of a breakout session titled, "Business Leadership and Team Alignment by Co-Creating the Scoring System," with lean thought leader Robert "Doc" Hall and our own BLI strategic partner, Jahn Ballard of the Performance Management Institute. I will blog about our session later this week.

I hope to see you at next year's conference! Or you can come to our next event, scheduled for Nov. 12 at our offices in Towson, MD. The MACPA and BLI are proud to host a Scanlon Innovation Tour No. 3 titled, "Measuring What Matters for Innovation and Growth." Download a brochure here.

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