Here we are again at the end of another year, which marks the end of my 9th full year in business. I’m not sure where all that time went!
I’m going to use this final post of 2015 as an opportunity to reflect on what has gone well, what I need to improve and my personal key learning point for the year. I am hoping this will act as a useful stimulus for you to do the same. In both business and life, it is important to spend some time in reflection to learn from our successes and our failures, but more importantly to then take action to avoid making the same mistakes again. This is summed up by the quote often attributed to Albert Einstein,
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. (I have no idea if this attribution is true, but it is still a useful quote.)
The highlight of my year has been the completion of a major two-year transformation project for a South African law firm. I have just returned from a two week trip to the Johannesburg area where I have joined in the celebrations of the Project Team as we have formally closed the project. This has been the biggest and most ambitious change programme I have tackled on my own and, if you believe the statistics, unlike 70% of change programmes it has been very successful. My role was as the external advisor and architect of the changes, but I worked with a highly motivated team of people from the business.
One of the lessons learnt from this project was that to implement successful change you must commit time and resources. Yes, I can come in and implement changes for you, but this will only achieve short term benefit. To achieve lasting change one must take ownership and drive the change from within. This project also demonstrated that you don’t need a consultant on site full time and significant value can be added by remote working (I facilitated most of this project from my base in Jersey over 8,000 miles away from my client).
Another success has been gaining three new clients this year, all in the offshore trust sector, where I am either managing change projects or providing specific advice on process and efficiency improvements. All of these clients have come from direct or indirect referrals and networking, proving yet again that in business services a good network and a reputation for delivering results are essential.
This moves on to my area of least success this year. I announced earlier in the year the launch of a new consulting business called PragmaticChange, which I started with a group of UK independent consultants. This has not worked as we had hoped and we have all decided to continue pursuing our own business interests, collaborating when needed, rather than creating a new organisation. What I have learnt from this is that without a common USP it is very difficult to get a bunch of independents to work together – particularly when we were all busy. I spent quite a bit of time developing this during the year, which is a risk one always takes when trying something new.
My partnerships with technology solutions in the areas of cloud computing, document management, project & programme management, GRC (Governance, Risk & Compliance) and trust & company administration systems continue to add value in terms of introductions to new clients and developing my own expertise and experience, which enables me to provide services in the area of ‘technology enabled change’. Do let me know if you are looking at developing any of these areas and need to apply some different thinking or external management.
In addition to my client and partner activities I’ve also taken some time out to compile an eBook, titled “12 Successful Business Improvement Techniques”. This compilation is based on my 9 years experience and brings together a number of practical techniques with my guidance on how to use them. The eBook is available as a free download from the homepage of my website or my by clicking the ‘Get free eBook” link on my Facebook page. If you haven’t seen it yet you can download a copy directly by clicking here.
So, back to my initial questions:
Q. What have I done well?
A. Delivery. I’ve successfully completed a number of client projects and gained new business.
Q. What do I need to improve?
A. Focus. Be aware of spreading myself too thinly and not spending enough time focusing on what is important to drive business growth.
Q. What is my Key Learning Point for 2015?
A. Collaboration. As a small business it is more important to collaborate than compete.
What are your answers to these questions? I’ll post the best of these to my blog in the new year.
Finally, it just remains for me to say, thank you very much for your continued support throughout this year and I wish you and your family a healthy and happy Christmas and a prosperous 2016.