Letter from John: Fables of the Reconstruction

I’ve come to respect the difficult work of Floricane’s clients – most of them are actively engaged in changing their organization’s trajectory, or some act of strategic reinvention designed to bear new fruit. I’ve been fortunate to play a small role in these efforts, and I’ve been smart enough to pay attention.

I often find myself telling our clients how important it is to have someone outside of your organization – a board member, a close friend, even a consultant – ride shotgun, whispering truths in your ear. I experienced my own advice recently (though it came in the form of a shout, not a whisper).

Actually, it came in the form of a lunchtime conversation at Dot’s Back Inn – followed by a six-page list of complicated financial questions from Jim Parker, the retired chief financial officer of Luck Stone Corporation. Jim had agreed to spend some of his summer helping me restart Floricane and position it for long-term growth and success.

Before asking Jim for his help, I mentally combed through a list of people who I thought could help me focus on the business side of Floricane. The criteria were simple – I was looking for someone with strong business finance competencies, someone I trusted, and someone who knew me well enough to call me on my ability to talk circles around myself. Enter Jim Parker.

I’ve known Jim for 15 years, which is about when he sat me down in a vain attempt to teach me about profit-and-loss statements, and how to teach groups of quarry workers how they impacted cash return on capital employed and revenue. My initial financial training efforts were a clear case of the blind (me) leading the blind (hourly quarry workers). Over the years, Jim diligently helped me understand business financials and contributed a great deal to Luck Stone’s organizational transformation.

My work with Jim on financials is just one important cornerstone of Floricane’s reconstruction. Over the next several months, our team will be hard at work in key areas, such as:

  • Continued focus on major client engagements, including ongoing work with the Library of Virginia, Bon Secours Virginia, ChildFund International, VCU’s Center for Health Innovation, the Richmond Symphony and a slate of new clients.
  • Swapping services with PUNCH marketing – our strategic planning support in exchange for their creative talent. A revamped website, branded business templates and a snappy piece of creative collateral are all in the mix.
  • Refining two major leadership initiatives – the Greater Richmond Chamber’s #RVA Leadership Lab and the Richmond Symphony’s live action offering focused on creativity and organizational change.
  • Deploying our new business development initiative focused on marketing our broad suite of services for individuals, teams and organizations looking for support with strategic transformation and organizational change.
  • Moving to an amazing new space.

We don’t expect this reinvention to be easy. Tinkering with the engine of a fast-moving car is dicey stuff! But it’s time.

Floricane’s first year was all about survival – getting through the worst year of the recession in one piece. Year two was spent learning that I couldn’t do it alone, and experiencing relative success. Year three was living into that initial success, building a solid team and realizing I had no idea how to run a business.

Which makes year four all about getting it right. Together.