About three months ago, I made a presentation entitled "Making Your Firm Great," to a New York City accounting firm. It was scheduled for a half-hour, and centered on my belief that leadership of the firm, a shared vision, the ability to promote and distinguish the firm from its competition, and the delivery of quality professional services are the keys.

I suggested the first step be for each partner to separately grade the firm based on the above criteria. I recommended what to consider when making the evaluation including developing niches, use of technology, compensation, operations, technical areas such as auditing, interaction with other firms, and marketing. For example, do partners and senior staff members have personal marketing programs?

When I opened it up for questions, I wasn't sure I got through to most of the partners, and added to that, I went over by 15 minutes. I got a very nice "Thank You" from both the partner that invited me and the managing partner.

Well, I happened to visit the firm last week, and purely by happenstance, saw the firm had adopted one of my suggestions. Actually, I stole the idea from the Fargo-N.D. regional firm Eide Bailly, which received the Practical Accountant Innovation Award a couple of years ago in acknowledgement of its posting of a newsletter in its bathroom. We felt that staff and clients were more likely to read it there as opposed to via many of the other delivery systems.

So I guess my speech went better then I thought. One of the definitions of innovation is "change in the way of doing things."  This firm exemplifies what firms have to do: show a willingness to change. I don't know if this firm is adopting anything else from my presentation. But at least I saw the first step and it occurs where all the firm members congregate, probably more than once, every day.

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