doesn’t have to mean satisfaction.
By Gary Thomson, Andersen Alumnus and currently a Managing Director at Thomson Consulting
a content person but rarely satisfied. I’m not Confucius, far from it, so this
statement is not meant to be as deeply philosophical as it may seem.
content in my faith, family, my position in life, my profession, my personal
pursuits, my clients, and other big things in life. But that doesn’t mean I’m
golf, for example. I’m content playing golf. Statistically, my handicap is in the
top 5% of all U.S. players, and I’m a member of an incredible golf club. My
golf partners are fantastic and put up with me most weekends. And I have more
golf “toys” than one person should.
satisfaction rarely, if ever, enters my mind when golf is involved. Oh sure,
there are some short-term satisfactions, but golf has this way of making you
unsatisfied very quickly. One lousy round – or even one bad hole - and it’s
time to hit the internet for a new swing tip. I enjoy using Trackman and other
technology to find new ways to generate clubhead speed, adjust spin rates, etc.
In 2022 I was able to connect with a short game “guru” and add a newer approach
to this part of my game. I was content with my game but not satisfied with it.
I wanted to get better.
can I be both content and lack satisfaction? Well, we can find contentment but
still possess a strong desire to improve. We can be proud of what we have built
while being unsatisfied with where we are today. That doesn’t mean what you
have done isn’t good enough; it just means that things have changed, and firms
need to continue to grow and strive for more – or different – successes.
do a lot of Partner Retreats. It’s one of the most enjoyable areas of my
practice. It energizes me to be with firms and help them look to their future.
Despite the challenges of the last few years, the accounting profession has
enjoyed some remarkable success.
dimensions I often see in firms:
- Satisfaction with results can freeze innovation and entrepreneurial
- Satisfaction with our history and culture can cause us to believe
we can’t “tinker” with anything
me be clear, I don’t view satisfaction as being negative IF we don’t let
satisfaction be a preventive roadblock to improvement.
I was planning a recent retreat, a leader expressed to me: “go easy on pressing
us to think about changes; I don’t want them to think our past success will
make us unsuccessful in the future.”
understand what he was saying. It’s easy, especially with consultants like me
in the room, to examine your firm so closely that we make our past successes
not seem all that great. However, if we rest on our success, we risk future
lack of success. Change is not indicative of not being proud of what we’ve
already done. It just means we must keep on going forward.
a balance is critical. While acknowledging our history, culture, financial
results, people, structure, etc., can be rewarding and celebratory, it
shouldn’t paralyze us from strongly considering what lies ahead for the future.
important to ask ourselves these questions:
- What’s worked?
- What hasn’t worked?
- How is what we are doing better preparing us for the future?
- What must we stop doing?
- What should we do more of?
- What should we add?
- Who do we need?
could go on and on with these questions, but think about your firm. If you’ve
not asked these questions in a while, why not? Let’s find a way to prepare for
the future, not by minimizing our past but by focusing on the future. We can
be content with the firm we’ve built, but I don’t believe we can afford to be
If you’re ready to ask these questions and head toward the future of your firm, let’s talk! Feel free to reach out to me email@example.com