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What Would Have to Be True for Us to Change Our Direction, Mind or Assumptions?

By Joey Havens

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A few weeks ago, we kicked off a new blog series, 5 Questions that Might Make Us #beEvenBetter, to address the challenges facing accounting firms today. These five questions will help us continually monitor and change our direction and strategies. We’ve already discussed the first question, Are we really moving fast enough? Today, let’s focus on the next question, What would have to be true for us to change our direction, mind or assumptions?

A mentor and friend, who also happens to be the CEO of a major firm, shared this question with me, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. I now use it to think strategically about our direction and decisions. The best thing about this question is that not only is it a great follow-up to the first question, but it also helps me identify and understand the assumptions that we have made that are driving our decisions. Even better, it has forced me to test those assumptions — a process that has made me more open-minded.

Consider the following examples from my firm. Once, when bidding for work, we assumed that the client would value a response to its request for proposal that focused on some of the complex technical matters to be addressed in the engagement. We lost the bid, but we came to realize that the client’s leaders actually valued a step-by-step process that demonstrated a pathway they could also envision. We changed our approach to emphasize simple steps with clarity, and we soon began to win more business.

Another time, we assumed that if we trained our performance advisers to give better feedback, we could develop leaders faster. When we tested this assumption, we found it was more impactful to train every team member on how to receive feedback, which transformed our leadership development and also made our performance advisers better at giving feedback.

Going through this exercise where you evaluate possible truths that would test your strategy can be very revealing and valuable. 

Every month, we’ll continue to explore each question and explain why they are essential to consider as you plot your firm’s course forward. Relevance is hard work and it takes hard questions. What are yours?