I was sharing with our Thriveal community recently about a practice my partner and I go through in running our companies. We take a full day each week to plan the strategy of growing our companies with purpose, and we base a lot of the rhythm of this weekly meeting on a great book by Gino Wickman called Traction. We’ve been doing this for a few months now, and it’s been incredible what we have been able to accomplish in small amounts of time. It has allowed us to exponentially move large strategies, take larger risks (in safer ways), and create huge amounts of processes in smaller amounts of time.
As I was sharing our full day of strategy work with the community, one member asked a really good question, “one full day? seems like overkill or has there been payoff?” As with many good questions, the answer is “it depends.”
It depends on whether you want a firm that runs without you and can grow into something that is bigger than what you can build with your own two hands.
A Firm that Runs Without You
Building a firm that can run without the owners seems to be every business leader’s dream. But first, I need to be clear with what I mean by “runs without you.” At the most basic level, there are two parts to running a company: operations/management and vision/leadership. When I use the phrase “runs without you,” I mean moving towards delegating the operations/management side of the business. As with any organization, I believe delegating the operations/management part of the firm is the goal for a growing organization, SO THAT the owners and leaders can spend MORE time on the vision/leadership side of the business.
So if you want to build a firm that will run without you (the operations and management side), then you have to put in a lot of time planning, analyzing, documenting, and building (or rebuilding) processes that will support your goal. And these processes are constructed around larger vision/leadership ideals that prove the reason for the processes. You need time for strategy to accomplish all of this work. Sometimes, during our strategy days my partner and I are setting vision, while other times we are building new processes. Still other times we are scrapping and redoing the vision and processes that have already been set in the past. But the work of letting a firm run without you doesn’t stop there. If you have been running a firm for some time, and have a team, then you have other jobs to do:
- sharing the vision in a clear way with your team,
- explaining the processes to your team that support that vision,
- training the team on new processes,
- working with your team members that don’t understand your new processes, and
- telling the team (again!) the purpose of the processes.
If you want a firm where the operations/management run without you, then you have to figure out a way to stop doing the technical part of your work (accounting, technology, tax, etc.), and begin adding in the strategy part of your work. That is your goal as the owner of an expanding firm. And if that is the goal, then you need a roadmap to get to that goal. Our necessary strategy days are how we lay out these roadmaps, tweak them, rebuild them, and plan how we roll them out.
Slowly but surely, we are seeing how these strategy days are creating the future that we want to see in our companies. It’s exciting to watch it unfold!
A Firm That is Larger Than Yourself
This is another dream of every business owner. This part of our strategy work is similar to ‘a firm that runs without you,’ but this is more about a larger team. Building a firm that is larger than yourself means developing a vision that doesn’t fully involve you. And that means we are moving into a place in our firm where we are not only leading teams, but will be teaching leaders how to lead teams. This work is totally different than anything we have done before. To be sure, our planning during our strategy days is what has allowed us to see this coming before it even gets here.
So do my partner and I do too much strategy? For us, the answer is no. But for you, the answer may be “it depends.” It depends on what you want. The strategy time we have committed to our firm allows us to build new processes with the ability to see the future. We are becoming clearer in what we want, and we know that takes a full commitment to strategy to develop visions, processes and teams to get to that place. It’s hard to see a vision when you are mired down in the details of work. My partner and I get that way all the time. And it is frustrating because we have times of stepping up into the clouds and looking farther out to a bright beautiful future. Our strategy days allow us to step away from work, and focus on building a firm that runs without us, while growing into something that is bigger than both of us.
How much strategy is enough for you? To know the answer, you have to answer this question: “what do you want your firm to become?” What kind of firm are you building?
Jason is the Founder of Thriveal and the Chief Innovative Officer of his CPA firm, Blumer & Associates. He is the co-host of the Thrivecast and The Businessology Show and speaks and writes frequently for CPAs and creatives, his firm’s chosen niche. Jason loves to watch documentaries on just about anything. He lives in Greenville, SC with his wife and their three children.