Can the business of fitness teach the fitness of business anything?

The fitness of business. Is it so different from the business of fitness? I don’t think so. Having been proudly involved in both, I can say they correlate in more ways than you think.

This week we learned Deloitte Australia had purchased The Terrace Initiative [1], to whip the behemoth into shape and lead them away from compliance, audit and assurance work to the path of advisory. It’s an excellent initiative, and I am looking forward to witnessing its success. I’m keen, not only because I love to see professional companies flourish in their ambitious projects, but also because I am eager for “advisory services” to thrive in a big way.

Advisory vs compliance is a huge topic, so we must make clear that The Terrace Initiative is all about designing and implementing powerful and sustainable change programs. From what I’ve read, the Deloitte merger will have them working on a tool that will track the progress of the training plan that transforms Deloitte advisors from compliance to advisory specialists.

We know about the performance tracking tool, so let’s also assume the metrics are taken care of and the training program is also ready to go. This is exciting and game-changing for Deloitte consultants who have the aptitude and energy for advisory work. Indeed, it takes an amazing amount of energy, enthusiasm, empathy, talent and intellect to advise customers. I wonder what the development curriculum looks like… Sure, we might be able to teach advisors about industries and what PESTLE [2] impacts could be relevant, but what about understanding the real-life businesses themselves? How do we train advisors to listen to the business owner – their client – and ask the right questions that lead to real, sustainable growth and change in their client’s business?

The Terrace Initiative was quoted this week saying they work like a personal trainer for change management. This was when I started drawing parallels to the business of fitness. In my experience, the best personal trainers (PTs) understand they must first listen to their clients. It’s well known, most people do not reveal the real reason for walking into a gym or engaging a PT. There are all sorts of reasons for this. Usually, they are embarrassed about something: their weight, age, general health or lack of activity mostly. However, a great PT will sit with them before leading them to a treadmill and listen. They will listen for the gems of information until they get to the truth of the matter which is where they can start planning the shape of their program. The relationship shifts from commercial to one of trust and it is here that transformation can take place.

Deloitte has brought in The Terrace Initiative as a personal trainer for their advisors, who are then transformed to personal trainers for their clients, leading to small and medium businesses who feel cared for, listened to and ready for their futures.

Advisors who are prepared to work with small to medium businesses are going to make an incredible difference to this sector. How do we genuinely prepare the advisors for the front line? Good question and one I’d love to pinpoint an answer for. If Deloitte can crack that nut, they will exceed their $12.5 million revenue target, and the new problem will be finding and funnelling resources through the system and developing them to the point of front-line readiness for enthusiastic clients.

Well done The Terrace Initiative, for clearly standing head and shoulders above the tribes of change consultants who came before you and my very best wishes for success.

[1] (Edmund TADROS, Australian Financial Review, 10 April 2019)

[2] PESTLE Impacts – Political, Environmental, Sociocultural, Technological, Legal & Economic impacts