A Commitment to Strategic Thinking


I hope you have all enjoyed the benefits of a beautiful summer. Certainly here in BC we have had exceptional weather. It has been great for the beach bums, but a greater challenge for the hard-working front line people fighting the worst fire season in our history.


I have had a very stressful summer and I believe sharing it may be useful to you, our readers. I think it will be useful because we all share the same challenge in a world that is moving very quickly.


Too often we run from crisis to crisis instead of focusing on a commitment to strategic thinking. We react instead of relying on the clarity of a plan which will produce long-term results.  


There are times when we need to deviate from the plan at hand and deal with a short-term crisis, no doubt. The forest fires in BC and the floods in Houston are great examples of where we all need to pitch in and tackle the current crisis. But they are also examples of where thoughtful planning and forward thinking could help us move forward to embrace the challenges.


There is not a climate change expert among us who would have been shocked by the recent challenges brought on by Mother Nature, although no one could have said with certainty where and when they would have occurred.


Let me bring this back to you and me and the business world for a minute. At our firm this summer, we did several exciting things – each with their own unique challenges and opportunities:

  • Brought on two new exceptional partners, who are helping us become leaders in both assurance and education for CPAs.
  • Had three talented and committed students go off for the summer, so they can write the certified final exam (café for short) and complete their studies.
  • Struggled to find the best new talent in a very competitive environment, which continues as we search to grow our team.


Each of these new challenges taxed our resources and stretched our capacity to new limits. As business leaders, each of you has faced similar challenges and felt at times like you are going backwards even as you are get stronger while moving forward.


So, in the face of these opportunities and challenges, what did we do?  



  1. Last fall we started discussing the firm’s goals and understanding what we want to achieve.
  2. We worked at length with our partners to be certain we all understood the expectations.
  3. We listened to one another.



  1. We outlined the time lines for growth, to ensure the new growth would not come in the middle of the spring tax season.
  2. We built a communication plan targeted first at our team, then at our clients and finally to potential new clients. This strategy was to ensure people understood how these changes would support improving our abilities to deliver to our stakeholders – to deliver to you.
  3. We invested in the necessary infrastructure to support our growth, with a strategy that would allow maximum flexibility and scalability.



  1. We met regularly to understand how and what milestones were being met and to support our success.
  2. We also met to understand the milestones that were being missed, because the ability to reassess is a key component to making a plan work and to developing confidence in your success.
  3. We supported one another by putting in some long hours and focussed effort.


From our experience, I have conviction in saying that these three key components (clarity, strategy, confidence) are integral to the challenges we all meet in business and life.


Does it mean there is never failure? Not at all. Two key clients of mine felt like they were abandoned on the road side, because despite our best intentions, all of our careful planning could not prepare us for the onslaught of staff illness or the greater than expected surge of work inflows. I had to step up address and explain what I was doing to rectify their particular challenges. But without the clarity of expectation, the strategic planning and the confidence born of communication during the process, I would not be penning this article on Labour Day Monday excited by the fall ahead.


When the fire season started, and grew to where it had burst the budget and exhausted resources, our government was able to reach out to our colleagues from across the globe for support. This did not eliminate the crisis or end the suffering of the effected, nor will it make it any easier to pay off the bills we will all face in our taxes.  


However, the ability to reach out and respond came from preparation and planning. If they can do it, so can we.