Move Over, Culture. Make Room for Innovation.

by Gordon Krater on December 8, 2014

On December 5, Plante Moran held a webinar to discuss the link between innovation and culture. Although we briefly summarized the results of our 2014 Innovation Report, most of the webinar focused on how to create a culture of innovation and actionable tips to help organizations become more innovative, courtesy of our three panelists: Xiao Guo, CEO of ThoughtWorks, Nancy Schlichting, CEO of Henry Ford Health System; and Nathan Weaks, CFO of Automatic Feed.

It was a fascinating discussion. Topics included innovative practices that spur innovation, whether or not to reward innovation, and how to make innovation part of a business’s cultural DNA. Here are a few of the key takeaways:

  1. From Nancy: The most important word in a leader’s vocabulary is “yes.” When you say “yes”—even if you don’t think it will work—you’re giving people permission to explore and create new ideas. And if an idea doesn’t work, often the lesson is invaluable and leads to other ideas that do.
  2. From Nathan: Invest in new ideas when things are going well. Nathan’s story was interesting in that his company underwent a complete cultural shift due to the 2009 recession. When that hit, sales plummeted, and the company was forced to innovate or collapse. Nathan and his team came up with new products related to the company’s core competency but also new ideas that were completely unrelated to what they used to do. Today, Nathan says, the company is no longer content with incremental improvements but takes calculated risks to continue to evolve.
  3. From Xiao: Focus on becoming generalists versus specialists. This may seem contrary to conventional wisdom, but Xiao said that his best thinkers are broad thinkers. He encourages his staff to change roles and business verticals often to gain different perspectives than result in innovative solutions. For ThoughtWorks, success means a broader set of experiences and skillsets.

These are just a few of the ideas shared during our 60-minute webinar. Some may work for your organization; others may not. Still, it’s nice to hear how others have been successful. If you’re interested in becoming more innovative—and who isn’t these days?—I highly recommend you check it out.


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?


Curiosity Is the Heart of Innovation

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 […]

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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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