The Strategic Roadmap - Initiatives & Projects

November 02, 2018

In this episode of “Generations in Family Business: Past, Present and Future”, Matt Kerzner and Tim Schuster discuss the importance of developing Initiatives and Projects of an organization and how this fits in with the Strategic Roadmap Process.


Tim Schuster: Welcome to our podcast for Generations in Family Business: Past, Present and Future. Our hosts for this podcast are myself, Tim Schuster, a manager in The Center for Family Business Excellence, and also with us today is …
Matt Kerzner: … Matt Kerzner and I'm the senior manager for The Center for Family Business Excellence.

TS: To continue our conversation, a major philosophy of the Center is our strategic roadmap, where Matt and I have been taking each step of the roadmap and breaking it down. For our listeners, in our last podcast, we discussed strategies and measures, how can strategies and measures help a company? How can we use the three-prong approach to help with strategies and measures—whether they are business development, operating efficiency or people development? In this episode, we're going to discuss initiatives and projects, or what is our game plan as a company? Let's start with defining what are initiatives and projects.
MK: So, Tim, great question. Initiatives and projects are really what we need to do as individuals or a department when we're working on things. So, for example, in the past we talked about why we exist. The mission, what do we believe in, the core values, what we want to be, the vision. Then we talked about the five to 10 major goals, objectives that the organization wants to accomplish. As you just mentioned, the three-prong approach: business development, operating efficiency and people. So really the initiatives and projects are what the focus is that we need to have individuals or departments work on. That's getting everybody rowing in the right direction. What are the benefits of a company to offer initiatives? So some of the benefits that the companies offer by doing this is it gives individuals and departments a sense of being, that they're engaged with the organization. It could make a huge difference when people really have a clear understanding of what's expected of them, how they could make an impact, and how it actually flows together so everybody understands in which direction the company is going and how I can make an impact.
TS: It seems like communication is the key to success with almost everything.
MK: Absolutely. The receiver has to understand what's expected, what value they add, and the steps they need to take to get there.
TS:When looking at the current and future states, what are some things a company should consider?
MK: When I hear current state and future state, I think of Lewin's Change Model. It's all about change management and communication. Organizations really need to look at where are they currently. Usually organizations will go through a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to really get a good sense of that. Once they have the current state, they actually have this visual, this map that they want to get to for future state. In Lewin's Change Model, you take the current state, you unfreeze that, and you introduce change by communicating expectations and giving employees the tools that they need to do the job. I call it the leadership + training + tools = success.
TS: I like that. That's a nice formula.
MK: If you have all three of those formulas, you're communicating, you're finding training opportunities, mentoring opportunities. Once you have that, then you have future state. So where do you want to go? And the initiatives and projects, if you really think about it, are the steps that help you go from current state to future state, So it could be that you need to fine tune your math skills and maybe your analytical skills for the job. So what are the areas that you need? Do we find you a good mentor that can teach you a technique if you're a junior accountant
TS: or something specific to a niche area that you're looking at currently?
MK: Correct. It could be a training class, it could be reading material. There's a lot of different things that could help you go from the current state to the future state with your knowledge. As a manager in the Center and working for EisnerAmper, what are some of your initiatives and projects, and how do they impact the the three-pronged approach?
TS: Absolutely. Let's start with the business development side. For me as a manager, one of the most important things is to see what our leadership is looking for, if we're looking for a certain percentage growth, revenue growth or a new specific niche market. You've talked about that before, giving me the tools or in order to speak to these people, where we are we trying to go. Is there a new marketplace we're trying to go into, whether it is in the Midwest or down south? Where are my skills that can be used in order to help the organization get to where it needs to be? If it's a revenue growth question, what do I need to do in order to help get us to that area—whether it is with new prospects, whatever area we're trying to get into? That's how I look at it from a business development perspective, but I almost look at it from what do the guys at the top want us to do to help them get there.
MK: Tim, how do you get there if you are the person who doesn't know where to go and everybody was given a goal that they have to add value to grow the business, grow revenue? Somebody who's new to an organization, learning or what I call a path to progression, going from an associate to a manager for the first time, how do they approach business development?
TS: I think that that would go into kind of a mentorship, right? So if I'm looking for someone who's been here for a few years, let's say I'm a new guy on the block, what do I need to talk to? I think if I pull them as a mentor and say, listen, I would love to try to get my foot in the door, grow the business, what do I need to do? And I would talk to them first just see what they are doing to do this now.
MK: That's excellent, Tim. Business development is, if you don't have the skillset, finding those who do, creating a mentorship/relationship which could be formal or informally, to really learn what they've done to add value to grow the business. And every idea, as crazy as it might sound, should be discussed and floated up to within the organization, because you never know. McDonald’s Big Mac was not created by somebody at the corporate office. It was created by an employee who was working for the organization who said, wow, look what I just created. And it became the Big Mac.
TS:That's awesome.
MK: So that's business development, and every employee at every level can add value of growing the business. So it's really understanding what people know and what they don't know.
TS:Yes, exactly.
MK: Operating efficiency.
TS: From an accounting firm’s perspective, efficiency is pretty much the end result for everything. I am actually very involved with staff training. So one of the things that we try to do is think of ways to cut time anywhere that we can on any sort of engagement that I work on. It's easy to say, a tax return should take X number of hours. If it takes less than that, awesome. If it takes longer than that, where did we go wrong in order to get back into that area? So what can we do as an organization to get our staff in order to kind of push them in the direction that they can be as efficient as possible?
MK: I would brainstorm at an organization and talk about ways that it could do things better, faster and more efficient. The initiatives and projects could be the larger goal of the company to go paperless. Use that as a larger goal of one of the objectives of what we want to accomplish. So what do we need to do? Next, people development. Walk me through what you would do for an initiative and project for people.
TS:Absolutely. I actually think that's probably one of the most important areas because you're only as strong as your weakest link. I do everything in my power to sit with staff in a group environment first, but also doing one-on-one training. I want to make sure that our staff, our seniors, management, partners, whoever needs the help, they're getting the help that they need in order to work as efficiently as possible with the tools that we have. I like to take extra time to make sure that someone's there because I think that the time you spend with someone now will pay off later.
MK:I love what you’ve said. When you teach, you learn; when you spend time with people and you're teaching others, it's just reinforcing what you know. And when others teach you, it helps them, too. The key here for the initiatives and projects is to make sure that they’re linked to the department as well as to the company's goals and objectives. You want to make sure everybody is rowing in the same direction. The coaching we provide is if you have key employees who might not be in sync with your strategic roadmap, and if managers, supervisors, leaders are lacking some of the communication skills, we can help develop a communication plan to make sure that every individual understands their roles within the organization.
TS: I think that makes a lot of sense. Matt, thank you so much as always for the useful information. And thank you for listening to Generations and Family Business Past, Present, and Future as part of the EisnerAmper podcast series. If you have any questions or there's a topic you'd like us to cover, email us at Visit for more information on this and a host of other topics. We'll look forward to you listening to our next EisnerAmper podcast.

About Matthew Kerzner

Matthew Kerzner is a Managing Director in the Center for Individual and Organizational Performance and the Center for Family Business Excellence. Matt has more than 25 years of experience in organizational development with a specialization in assisting family businesses and closely held businesses.

About Tim Schuster

Mr. Schuster is a Senior Manager providing tax compliance services to individual filers, as well as assistance on tax returns for companies in the manufacturing and real estate industries.

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