We were very lucky to have Francis Lee share his wisdom and philosophies with the A2Q2 Team. In this two-part blog series, we will share with you a summary of the key points of what Francis Lee has taught us.
Francis’ passions are mentoring and people development. In this first part, you will learn about the different aspects of innovation as a company and as in individual.
Lesson #1: Reinvent yourself
When you run a technology company, innovation is very important. But when you’re an accounting firm, how do you think of innovation?
According to Francis, innovation doesn’t have to mean technology. Innovation doesn’t have to be products or services. Innovation may not only be the technology of the product.
It could be services. It could be the way of how you do things. It could be a process.
It could be big or small. Who said innovation has to be big? It does not have to be big.
For Francis, some of the biggest innovation in our world are not from air-shattering discoveries or technology breakthroughs. Imagine how a luggage with two or four wheels has changed the way people travel.
You have luggage, then you put wheels. What could be simpler than that?
Being a world class customer
All of us are in the service industry no matter what type of work we are in we serve customers. They are not just the people that are handling breakfast in McDonald’s or serving in a restaurant.
No job in any company is by itself independent. You are always servicing people, and you should always have that service mindset.
From beginning to end, when you look at the value delivery system, everybody’s got a hand in delivering certain value for those clients.
Some questions to ask yourself are:
- How do I my delight my customer or supplier?
- How do I make my customer or supplier want to do business with me?
Your suppliers are the ones giving you the input, while the customers are the ones you are giving your output. That’s how simple we will talk about it.
You have to ask yourself how to become a world class customer?
I can be a world-class customer by being very clear with what my issues are. How can you help me? How can you help me to succeed? What keeps me awake every day? I educate you if you are in my shoes, those are the things that I have to deal with. So, you educate the supplier and educate your customer in such a way that everybody is helping each other to make this chain stronger because this chain is as strong as the weakest link.
Satisfying an unmet need
Innovation is to do something to satisfy an unmet need. The question is how do you know what those unmet needs are?
This is what it means to be a world class customer and world class supplier.
- Find out unmet needs from your customers and your suppliers.
- Ask the people that you serve.
- Practice asking questions and listen.
- Develop a good customer-supplier relationship.
Ask those questions and discover those unmet needs, whatever they are and they are there.
Innovation in 3 main points
- Innovation is about finding the unmet needs by asking your internal customer-supplier what the issues are.
- After you find out the unmet needs, you need to do a prototype. I suggest you make small “bets”. This lowers your initial cost and allows you to run more cycles of prototype and validation. Because with each cycle you learn something new and the speed of each cycle is much shorter.
- Then you validate it with whomever you’ve consulted with on each cycle of the prototype.
Innovation is about having an idea; an idea to look for the unmet need, do a prototype, and you validate it.
So, you have to validate it with the right people, but as simple as that, you find an idea, you create a prototype, make a prototype to address the idea and validate it with the people whether they are the supplier or customer. Improve your “cycle of learning” by making incremental “small bets” (improved version of each round of prototyping) because “betting the house” on each prototype could be reckless risk.
Self-improvement as innovation
If you don’t keep reinventing yourself, one day, you will be left behind. You have to reinvent yourself all the time; if you don’t, you will be replaced.
Before somebody, somewhere figures a way to do your job, start learning about other people’s business and learn what everybody else is doing in the company.
That creates a very good team building environment because what you are doing is exercising empathy to each other in a company. By building a culture like that, you are building a continuously improving culture in your company because nothing is good enough.
To reinvent yourself and become better all the time makes you one or two steps ahead of the competition.
Some of the things you can do are:
- Promote a continuous improvement culture in your company.
- Learn as much as you can by talking to people and asking questions.
- Learn everything that you have in your current job or company. Regardless of what your career ambitions are, what you want to do all this and that.
- Look around and learn as much about the kind of industry that you audit, that you work with. Being in accounting, you have a new scene of the financials all the time that gives you an opportunity to see what is working and what is not working.
Don’t allow yourself to say I will always do this job. Your most successful career is as versatile as you get. It doesn’t mean that you cannot be an expert on one of those areas, but you should still learn as much as you can.
Lesson #2: Reputation is your most precious possession
Never do something that will tarnish your reputation.
In all the scandals that happened, people always think they can get away with it. Whether they can get away things, they will eventually ruin your reputation, so make sure that you have a good reputation.
If you have a good reputation and good ethics, the rest of it will take care itself.
Never take advantage of the short-term or a short time in all kind of situation as if nobody will know. The more you do that, the next time you do it, you do another one and you think nobody will know because you got away the first time.
Always make sure you don’t tarnish your reputation.
These are just two of the philosophies Francis Lee shared. More lessons on will be shared in part 2 of Francis Lee blog series.