This Thanksgiving, I’m Thankful for Stewardship

by Gordon Krater on November 24, 2014

A couple of weeks ago, I was talking with Vince Selasky, a staff member who, over nearly 20 years at Plante Moran, has progressed from working in our facilities department to managing our webinars and video needs as part of the firm’s marketing department. We were talking about his upcoming Plante Moran-niversary, and I asked him, “Why did you choose to spend 20 years of your career here?”

His answer blew me away. He said, “Because most mornings when I pull into the parking lot, I feel like my name is on the building right next to ‘Plante’ and ‘Moran.’” He went on to say that he feels a sense of ownership in the firm, that it feels good to know that he’s personally contributed to our successes. He talked about the state of the firm 20 years ago—when we were roughly a third of our current size—and how impressed, but not surprised, he is at our growth. Finally, I asked him if he thought our culture was the same as it had been all those years ago. He paused, considered my question, and responded, “Absolutely. In fact, it might even be better.”

I often talk about stewardship, defined as “the careful and responsible management of something entrusted to one’s care.” I believe we’re all stewards of Plante Moran and our clients, our culture, our communities, and each other. We work hard to instill a sense of responsibility, of ownership, in all of our staff. Hearing Vince say that, in his mind, he worked at “Plante Moran Selasky,” was wonderful. That is, after all, our goal—for each staff member to see a little of himself or herself in what we accomplish.

As I look toward Thanksgiving and reflect on what I’m thankful for this year, I think, of course, of my family and friends. I also think of the 2,000+ stewards we have at Plante Moran who are working in tandem with me and the rest of our partners to ensure our clients’ and our firm’s continued success. Thank you, Plante Moran staff. Here’s to the continued stewardship of our clients and our fine firm.

What about you? What are you grateful for this year? Do you have an inspirational story to share?

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Curiosity Is the Heart of Innovation

by Gordon Krater on November 10, 2014

One of the world’s greatest innovators, Walt Disney, once said: “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors, and doing new things, because we’re curious and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”

It’s true — curiosity is the heart of innovation, but how do we encourage curiosity in the workplace? Our 2014 Innovation Report found that culture plays a pivotal role in inspiring innovation, but it doesn’t always translate to success. So, what are the elements of a successful innovation culture, and how do you spark curiosity?

Our survey revealed a group of elite innovators who have seen a 30% or more increase in revenue due to innovation. A common thread among these elite innovators was great cultural practices that promote innovation in the workplace. One of the key cultural elements is something we take very seriously here at Plante Moran: a collaborative work environment with open communication.

Innovation is fed by collaboration. With collaboration, new perspectives and ideas are presented and developed. Open work spaces, collaboration rooms, and an open-door policy are a few examples of a physical work environment, but open communication must be ingrained deeper into an organization’s culture. A nurturing, creative environment starts from the top with leadership support. It’s important to listen to your employees, listen to their ideas, and build a space of trust and openness that allows everyone to feel comfortable and encouraged to come forward with new ideas.

Finally, innovation sometimes comes with its share of risks. In his book Great by Choice, Jim Collins encourages organizations to shoot bullets first, then cannonballs. His point is to make sure the risks we take are calculated ones. We’ve tried a lot of different things over the years at Plante Moran. Some worked; others haven’t. But even the failures sometimes lead to future successes…because we learn from them and enter into the risks with appropriate research and caution.

Innovation is about taking these calculated risks and not being afraid to fail. But without the right cultural mix, the curiosity light can be extinguished. Is your culture a catalyst for innovation?

For more information on this topic, sign up for our Dec. 5 webinar, “Move over, Culture. Make Room for Innovation.” The webinar will feature leaders from Automatic Feed, Henry Ford Health System, and ThoughtWorks—three successfully innovative organizations from Ohio, Michigan, and Illinois—as they discuss innovation and the role of culture.

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Staff Development Is Important…So Much So That We Created an Award for It

October 24, 2014

Back in June, I wrote a short blog about metrics and making sure that we’re measuring the right things—those that can effect positive change versus those that may inadvertently promote undesired behaviors (the law of unintended consequences). We approach awards at Plante Moran similarly. We don’t give out a lot of them, but when we do, […]

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Dedicated to Differences

October 6, 2014

Recently, I was interviewed by Inside Public Accounting for an article the publication is writing on women in leadership. The discussion touched on a variety of diversity topics, and at one point, the reporter commented on the lack of diversity she sees each year when it comes to partner promotions within the accounting profession. “It’s […]

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Papal Advice: 10 Tips for Becoming a Happier Person

September 22, 2014

Over the weekend, I saw an article called “10 Tips for Becoming a Happier Person.” It typically wouldn’t have gotten my attention—there’s a lot of “noise” out there—but this particular list was developed by Pope Francis, so I was curious. As I read it, I found myself nodding in agreement with the tips which included […]

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So You Want to Be a PMer…

September 2, 2014

Over the past year, Plante Moran has received a mind-boggling number of resumes—more than 26,000! As campus recruiting season heats up, I thought I’d take a few minutes and discuss what we look for in Plante Moran staff and how candidates can stand out from the crowd. First, we look for well-rounded people with strong […]

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Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

August 18, 2014

Each year, Plante Moran holds a creativity contest to determine which of our offices came up with the most fun/unique way to raise money or volunteer time for Plante Moran Cares, our firm’s charitable effort.  The winning office receives an additional $5,000 donation to the organization it supports. The winner this year is East Lansing, […]

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Women in Leadership at Plante Moran (Guest Blog Featuring Sue Perlin)

August 4, 2014

While Gordon is on sabbatical, he has invited Sue Perlin, a partner specializing in serving many of the firm’s significant foundation and cultural institution audit clients, to fill in as a guest blogger. Sue is known for her active involvement in the attraction and retention of women leaders at the firm and is currently leading […]

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Plante Moran’s Firm Conference Is Chockfull of “Little Wows” (Guest Blog Featuring Jim Proppe)

July 21, 2014

While Gordon is on sabbatical, he’s invited Jim Proppe, a member of Plante Moran’s six-person management team, to fill in as a guest blogger. In his role as Group Managing Partner, Jim leads client service, growth, and people development for the firm’s industry-focused practice areas. Each year, we invite our 2,000+ staff (the entire firm!) […]

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Four Uninterrupted Weeks Off. At Plante Moran, We Call That a “Sabbatical.”

July 8, 2014

For more than a decade, the firm has had a sabbatical program that requires all partners to take a mandatory four consecutive weeks’ leave every seven years. Although we have a generous paid-time-off policy at the firm, some partners use it more than others; the sabbatical program requires all partners to disconnect completely so that we may […]

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