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Last Update: Wednesday June 23, 2021

Key Idea: Listen to Young Team Members

The owners welcome ideas for improving their business from all employees and there is a process in place to recognize such contributions.

Key Question:


Listen to everyone. At MFR the  owners are adamant that some of the best ideas have come from the youngest employees.They know that  the youngest employees have the most customer contact and are most in tune with customer needs. This, combined with their natural enthusiasm and creativity, can benefit a business enormously if there is a way to harvest their ideas.

  How can the young people of a business be encouraged to make suggestions for improving the business?

A:  Owners of MFR will tell you that the most important thing is to establish a corporate culture of respect. There has to be a strong feeling that everyone matters, that every voice will be heard, for people to feel comfortable in offering suggestions. No suggestion can ever be dismissed without consideration and appropriate feedback to the employee who offered it. When suggestions are adopted without positive results, the employee must not be blamed for the failure. Sometimes, good ideas don't work, that has to be the attitude. Finally, in the situation where a suggestion is made and adopted with positive results, it is important to recognize and reward the employee responsible. This motivates everyone to think creatively within the business.

Q: How can we foster creativity in a business environment?

It's not easy! Think about it, we always hear about policy, process and procedures in business. The importance of doing the same thing the same way at the same standard is an underlying principle of quality control and effective and efficient business procedures. How do you marry those time honored principles to the need for always searching for a better way? How do you send a clear message, throughout your organization, that you are a learning organization, constantly striving to improve?

Think back on what the owners of MFR said. The umbrella of corporate culture resolves the dilemma. Simultaneously, both messages have to be sent. The "This is how we do things here" message ensures customer quality and is of paramount importance in the business' overall strategy. But, modifying that message to "This is how we do things here until we find a better way … and we are always looking" is the message of companies that have successfully harnessed the intellectual capital of all their employees.

Think about it

Are you curious to know what the youngest people on your team are thinking about?  Does everyone in the business have a way to get ideas to you?  Do you reward employees who offer great ideas?

Clip from: Mir Fox Rodriguez: A Study of Resilience

Houston:  Mir Fox & Rodriguez is a CPA firm in Houston.  Their most important product is their public accounting know-how, but this is also a very important story here about turning adversity into greatness.

Most CPAs do not think of themselves as entrepreneurs. They see themselves as players on the team of companies headed by entrepreneurs. Carolyne Fox admits that she would still work in a big, world-famous CPA firm if she had not been forced to leave by a merger.

In this show two of the three founders were fired, "assisted out" by a Big Five firm; they were not invited to become partners. That was 1987. The good-old-boy network weighed woman and minorities by a different standard. Yet, when these three decided to work together, the sum of the whole equaled an entrepreneurial powerhouse with balance, vision, heart and soul. Though they know and respect the rules, these three are also redefining them.

While Gasper Mir works in the community and brings in new clients, Carolyne Fox manages the service side freeing Roland Rodriguez to develop new businesses and work with their offices in Mexico and South America.

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Mir Fox & Rodriguez (CF)

Carolyne Fox, Founder

1900 One Riverway
Houston, TX 77056
713 662 1120

Visit our web site:

Office: 713 662 1120

Business Classification:

Year Founded: 1988

Listen to Young Team Members

HATTIE: Have you had an intern develop something, some business practice, some process, that worked, that saved time, got you the better result that you were able then to put into play for everybody?

CAROLYNE: On an ongoing basis. There's actually a vehicle for doing that. Whenever anyone has figured out a better way of doing something, they write it up and they submit it to the partner in charge of the audit group and she and the other management group members, they read it, they evaluate it, they test it to make sure that it works. And if they're successful and they think it's a good idea, it goes into our database of processes with the author's name.

Then an e-mail goes out saying, `Matt figured out how to do such-and-such, and now it's in the PAD, the practice aids database.' And then there's a card that Matt gets called a `Way to go' card with a $50 gift certificate to a local restaurant.

HATTIE: Wow. We get cash, too.

CAROLYNE: Oh, you get a fine meal.

HATTIE: We get recognition, acceptance. I'm treated like even the partners are treated. I made fifty bucks.

CAROLYNE: And you made a contribution. I mean, this isn't a game. You made a contribution. You saved us more than $50 because you figured out how to do this, and we were struggling with it. And there are some killer applications out there that are part of our everyday work.

HATTIE: And so on Lotus Notes, you wrote the visual auditor.


HATTIE: And this is your own system that you wrote on the platform of Lotus Notes.

CAROLYNE: That's right. This is a proprietary application where we keep track of the work that we do for our clients.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Kenia Miano has worked to develop Virtual Auditor.

KENIA MIANO: Well, it's like putting our minds and our virtual pencil at the same time, at the same place.

HATTIE: You've gone way beyond your original plans. So tell me what people are doing now with your program.

KENIA: Well, we start, like, everybody else, with e-mail kind of, then we start finding features that we didn't know. We start developing--we say, `We need this.' And it was really fast to program. Because I have been working different programs, languages, and--but this is really fast. You can create an application in one week.

HATTIE: So two years later, everyone is sharing files...

KENIA: Sharing files. They are using our approval cycles. Like, you know, you don't have to be chasing your manager for an approval. You use the e-mail system and reminders and use applications like Virtual Auditor. Auditors don't have to wait for managers to get approval on reviews or things like that.

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