I recently came across a terrific older article in the Harvard Business Review that articulated in very specific detail an optimal organizational structure to empower “transformational change.” The author’s underlying premise was that we need to capture some of that quick adaptability and flexibility that enabled our firms to grow rapidly from fledgling start-ups to well-entrenched practices by creating a sense of urgency and focus around a single opportunity.
Think about it…as your business continues to evolve and gain complexity, how many times do you end up losing momentum because you are trying to focus everywhere? I see acquisitive firms that perpetually have a half-dozen ongoing conversations with potential acquisition targets who never seem to be able to consummate a deal. I talk to advisors with grand plans to completely overhaul their entire technology infrastructure yet never seem able to take the first step. And perhaps most commonly, practices intent on organic growth, but unwilling to narrow their “ideal client” focus.
It struck me as deeply applicable to many of our clients’ firms – practices where the advisor-owner has successfully built his or her business from the ground up. Very early on, as the business is starting to develop its DNA and its identity, a shotgun approach to client acquisition can be effective in helping to identify niches where your service offering, expertise and insights best fit. As the firm grows and becomes more like a yacht than a racing sloop, your ability to turn on a dime diminishes. You need to be able to make strategic bets – picking out the areas where you think your biggest opportunities are and going all-in after them.
8 Accelerators for Transformational Change
1. Create a sense of urgency around a single big opportunity
Look at your business, the competition, client needs and challenges, and the regulatory landscape. What’s the ONE opportunity you feel most passionate about?
2. Build and maintain a guiding coalition
Deeply engage those individuals on your team who don’t just buy into your vision around the big opportunity, but who also share your passion.
3. Formulate a strategic vision and develop change initiatives designed to capitalize on the big opportunity
Work with your guiding coalition to identify strategy and tactics that will directly impact your ability to capitalize on the big opportunity.
4. Communicate the vision and the strategy to create an alignment
This is the shared vision we often talk about in our coaching work, and an essential element of getting everyone on your team motivated and pulling in the same direction.
5. Accelerate movement by removing potential barriers
Particularly in larger practices, it’s essential to gain buy-in and support from outside the immediate team (e.g., compliance, operations) to avoid obstacles that may impede your progress.
6. Celebrate visible, significant short-term wins
In order to sustain enthusiasm and momentum, it’s vital to provide ongoing validation that the big opportunity isn’t just a goal, it’s an achievable goal. Identify/quantify milestones along the way, and celebrate those achievements.
7. Don’t declare victory too soon
Watch any one-sided sporting event and you’ll quickly see that it’s human nature to take your foot off the gas when victory is in sight. Don’t let your team lose its sense of urgency until after you’ve crossed the finish line.
8. Institutionalize strategic changes into your culture
Once a major strategic shift has occurred, don’t allow traction to slip as old habits and methodologies begin to resurface.
Coaching Questions from this article:
If you could “wave a magic wand” and transform your business, what’s the one big thing you’d most like to accomplish?
What steps could you take to turn that desire into a strategic vision and tactical plan?
Which of your team members are most likely to share that desire, and how can you engage and motivate them to help you achieve it?