Rachel Eden profile April 2017As well as the annual tradition of setting new year’s resolutions, I’ve also noticed that  it feels over the last few years that an alternative tradition not setting new year’s resolutions has developed.

The Holy Brook team is a bit split on this with some people seeing it as a useful way to set intentions for the year, and others as a way to set yourself up to fail.  One thing we all agree on is that setting habits and goals rather than vague ideas is a good thing.

As an accountancy professional, who now works in a more creative way if I was setting a standard new year’s resolution I might say to myself “Be more creative”.  However I know this would be something that I would look back on in a couple of weeks and realise I had done nothing to achieve.

So here are some some other options I am considering:

  1.  Create habits that will indirectly lead to your goal.
    The amazingly creative Mark Mason has just shared a set of 10 habits you can integrate into your working life that will foster creativity.
    For example Mark has been asked to bring ice cream to our Holy Brook team catch up on 5th January.

  2. Set SMART targets:  Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant* and Time-bound.
    This was actually the approach that Lyndsay Henderson advocated we tried last February as a Holy Brook team, and it worked (it is also worth a re-read).  Setting a SMART target for creativity might seem counter intuitive but actually structure can be really important for allowing true creativity.
    For example I have set a target to create a blog post to be published each Friday of January that adds value to our network
  3. Set a word of the year This lovely idea is one I spotted on Antonia Taylor PR’s instagram feed.  The idea is to set a single word that you want to use to sum up your year.  Then everything you decide on and activity you chose should be able to be linked back to that.
    For example I am playing around with words to use currently I think ‘create’ is the word I will pick, although that might not be creative enough – so I’m going to throw it out to the Holy Brook team for ideas

  4. Have anti-resolutions.  Rather than deciding what you will do, decide what you won’t do, such as cancelling a gym membership that you never use.
    For example I am not going to allow other work invade my Friday morning creativity sessions and I am going say “no” to projects that are not part of my creative mission for the year
  5. Visualise your future state.  This can sound a bit mystical, but I know a few people who are great believers in visualisation.  The idea is to picture yourself and the world in the state that you want it to be, but make it very specific.  As an accountant, another way I might put it is to have a well defined goal.
    For example I could picture myself finalising the draft of a book on using financial management techniques to foster better communication.

Of course there’s nothing to stop you setting some good old fashioned new year’s resolutions, but if you find in a couple of weeks they aren’t quite working for you, it might be time to revisit and try one of these alternatives.  I’d love to hear what your doing via our twitter account.

We’ll be sharing more tips on goal setting and creativity via our newsletter in the coming months so do subscribe if you’d like free access to these and all the resources we shared in 2017

Holybrook Associates_4421b_resizeCoordinating Director Rachel Eden explores how you can turn an accounting concept into a practical 4 step approach to increasing your impact.

I have been pondering a blog post for about 3 months on the accounting concept of ‘limiting factor’ or what I prefer to think of as your key resource.

This is the thing that makes your organisation tick – it’s what makes your organisation successful and people want to work with it.

However, what is meant by it being limiting is that that special resource’s availability is, well, limited:  if you could have more of it your organisation would grow and do more: whether your focus is on making more money or having a greater impact on the world.

In the case of Holy Brook Associates – given that it has taken me since April to actually create a post on the topic – as you might guess it is my time as the Coordinating Director.

In fact whether I talk to entrepreneurs, small business owners, charity trustees and managers this is a pattern that I see over and over again, so let’s see how limiting factor analysis can help with this.

Translating the accounting concept of limiting factor analysis into thinking about this in human terms there are three steps to which I would add a fourth:

  1.  Prioritise tasks – doing the thing that contributes most to your organisation. This works up to a point, but there comes a time when the urgent and the important clash, or you just need to do everything – for example ensuring your annual return is done on time vs serving a new and exciting client.
  2. Delegate – ensure that your time is spent on the things that only you can do or you can do best – whether that is passing on admin and accounts, brand design or IT management. This can help to increase your capacity and expand what you do until you reach a point where you are only working on the things that really require what only you can add.  There is a cost-benefit equation here:  think about what will add more benefit than it will cost if you pass it on to someone else.
  3. Replicating your resource: find another person who can add to your capacity.  Traditionally this would be seen as finding a ‘resource’ identical to the existing resource – for example buying a machine that is the same as a macheine that is being run at capacity at the moment.  Translating that into a world where the issue is your time, finding someone with similar skills and outlook can really help your organisation to have greater impact.I’ve often heard this described as unicorn hunting, and that is the big downside – that person you are looking for might well be very hard to find.

I therefore advocate a fourth step which it has led to a very exciting set of work for me both with clients and the Holy Brook team:

  1. Cooperate: Find people or even organisations with complementary skills and similar values to collaborate with – either by hiring them, formally joining a cooperative or through an associate or contract arrangement. The likelihood is that you’ll learn from each other, grow together and be able to support clients in a greater range of ways.  A win for everyone


Good luck and if you want to spend a few minutes a day thinking about this side of your business it is worth signing up to our FREE go4growth online challenge

ChangHolybrook Associates_4412b_resizee. There’s a lot of it about. Some of it good. Some of it not-so-good. Some of it just plain baffling. And lots of it – in my experience anyway – badly communicated.

There are, of course, fantastic examples of change communication, where everyone who is affected feels informed and engaged. They understand what is happening, when and, most importantly, why. In these examples, individuals who are negatively impacted by what’s changed can still see why it has to happen – the communication allows space for them to hold two views at the same time (I understand why this is good for the organisation, but I’m also upset that it has a bad effect on me).

And for those who are less interested in the touchy-feely aspects of making people feel good about change, these positive approaches are also successful operationally. If everyone understands what needs to change and why they will be motivated to act on it – whether that be taking up a new process, aligning themselves with a new strategy or getting used to a new boss.

Good for business and good for individuals. Sounds like a win-win to me.

So why have I seen so much badly-communicated change? Why have we all seen so much badly-communicated change?

There are many answers here and many aspects of change communication that I could talk about in this article. The (lack of) planning. (Failure to) put yourself in others’ shoes to consider their perspective, motivations and information needs. The (lack of) strong, compelling narrative or case for change. I could go on, but I know we all have limited time. So today I am restricting myself to one aspect that I notice again and again.

The missing message

How many times during a badly-managed restructure do you hear people say ‘they’re expecting us to do more with less’? And after the badly-managed restructure, for that matter. Understandably, if your job is put at risk during a restructure or your team’s numbers are reduced, the immediate impact you feel is that there is still a pile of invoices on your desk, a queue of people to see or an inbox full of queries to answer, only there are now fewer people to do it.

The message that you hear is:

‘We need to do all this with fewer people because that will save money’.

However, often the aim is to do things differently, using new processes, technologies and priorities – with the result that fewer people will be needed to do it. A subtle but important difference. Sometimes people can be freed up to work on other areas or in different ways.

So the message should be:

‘In order to compete in our current market and offer the goods/services we are known for, we need to do things differently’.

The difference here is that the message is first and foremost about new ways of working. It’s not about numbers of people or volumes of current paperwork.

You have to start by putting in the time and effort to engage people to understand this message – and it will take time for them to work through all the implications and come to a point where they understand and agree (or not, in which case they are in a better position to make an informed decision about their own actions). Then you can start to talk about what that means in terms of change and new ways of doing things. This will inevitably lead to discussions around numbers of people or roles and money saved, but with a more solid foundation.

Change communication is a nuanced and complex activity. You need strong messages, genuine openness and trust and support for local managers in their day-to-day communication. It won’t just happen on its own