“The purpose of StreetwiZe • Mobile School and our purpose are the same: to actively support people and organisations in their growth”, say CEO Peter Verschelden and Project Lead Sally Strijbos of Moore Stephens Belgium, an accountancy and consulting company. Funnily enough, the link between StreetwiZe and Moore Stephens Belgium started with a competition.
More cross selling
Peter Verschelden is the son of Marcel Verschelden who, together with his brother Frans, founded the accounting and consultancy company. “Marcel and Frans started fifty years ago from nothing”, Peter says. “Today we are a group of 420 people, with offices all over Belgium, in San Francisco and in Shanghai. We continue to be a family owned company, driven by a passion for entrepreneurship.”
Over the years, Moore Stephens Belgium has grown from an audit and accountancy company to a broad service provider; an international Moore Stephens network with like-minded partners. Verschelden quotes some figures: “Over 90 percent of our turnover is earned in Belgium, mainly in Flanders. Our classical activities such as accounting, tax and audit, account for 70%. 30 percent of our turnover is a result of cross-selling.”
Give back to society
A wider service offering to the client is becoming increasingly important. “We are evolving more and more towards cross-over services”, says Peter Verschelden. “We want to be able to offer everything that’s needed to improve a company and assist our clients as much as possible in their growth and optimisation. We have three core values: to be entrepreneurial, to innovate and to share. Using our passion for entrepreneurship we want to assist our clients and people in general to grow. We view growth in the broadest sense: in hard figures and also as human beings, mentally and physically… we want to give back. Society is one of four stakeholders, the others being our shareholders, our clients and our employees. Within our charity committee, we work on CSR in a very structured and organised way. Every year we choose a new charity for our fundraising.”
100 people for 100 kilometers
“I knew Arnoud Raskin from the Board of Directors of Lead-In.” ‘Actively support people in their growth’ is what StreetwiZe • Mobile School does. ”Don’t give street kids food, help them grow”, says Arnoud Raskin. Arnoud has a fantastic story. He doesn’t just want to receive, he wants to give something back. Hybrid social entrepreneurship is a beautiful concept and Arnoud’s enthusiasm is so contagious that you naturally want to support his project.
“In 2015, we took the challenge to gather 100 people at the start of the Dodentocht (Death March) in Bornem”, continues Verschelden. “We didn’t succeed to rally 100 walkers and runners… But we did raise 17,000 euros. At the start we thought it would just be a fundraiser for Mobile School but Arnoud said he wanted to give something back and share the street skills with Moore Stephens. Over the past year, 45 managers mastered these skills. In May this year we will go on an international StreetwiZe Expedition to Romania; working together with a mobile school and street children. That will be the icing on the cake of our training year.”
Sally Strijbos engineers the training programmes at Moore Stephens Belgium: “Our question for StreetwiZe was to guide us towards the organisation we would like to become. As a company we want to evolve towards consultancy, offering more answers and added value to our clients. Internally the implication is that we move towards cross selling. For an accountant, that means recognising the opportunities for consultancy; for example in the case of an acquisition. To many people, this is a complete change of mindset. Our managers and directors play a key role in realising this change.
We asked StreetwiZe which skills can support managers and directors in this. How can they obtain a better insight into the concept of ‘cross selling’? How can they translate that to the employees supporting the change?”
For Moore Stephens Belgium StreetwiZe developed a tailor-made programme, with six workshops. Besides the workshops on the four street skills ‘positive focus’, ‘agility & resilience’, ‘proactive creativity’ and ‘cooperative competition’, we also worked on specific leadership competencies: ‘leading change’ and ‘pitching and storytelling’.
“You have to know that our managers are extremely critical when it comes to training.” says Sally Strijbos. “If they spend half a day on training, they want to see real added value. They are very pragmatic. Everything has to be applicable for immediate use. Their feedback shows that the StreetwiZe approach really is what they want. Each session was inspiring, challenging, surprising and also relevant. Bart and Hans, our two coaches, were very complementary in their approach. They always showed a video from the streets to illustrate a certain technique. They spoke from their own experience and translated the content to our business context in a very hands-on way with practical tools.”
Practical and applicable
‘Which workshop resonated most?’ I asked. “Our environment changes all the time so the workshops on ‘positive focus’ were extremely relevant”, says Sally Strijbos. “To see the positive side of change is very important. But the session on ‘Leading Change’ was a real eye opener. Change comes with a lot of emotion. How can you guide an emotional person to change?”
“What works so well with the StreetwiZe approach,” says Strijbos, “is that it’s not just theory; what you learn is practical and applicable. After a workshop you think ‘I can really use this’. You don’t receive a thick course book, but a handy A4 flyer that contains everything you need to get started. During the course you continuously put the street skills in practice by working in groups on your own renewing project to improve what we already do as a company. Later on each group will pitch its project to the other groups. My project group wants to stimulate cross selling. Our idea is to set-up some sort of CRM-database, topped-up with a layer of gamification, to enable us to challenge our colleagues in a fun way.”
“What was great, too”, adds Peter Verschelden, “is that when we told Arnoud that we would walk the 100km Death March for Mobile School, some of the StreetwiZe • Mobile School staff spontaneously joined us. Moreover, they supported our CSR-project in Africa. It is clear that Moore Stephens and StreetwiZe • Mobile school have found each other and have connected as organisations. For 2017 we will analyse whether we can set-up a next phase for this training trajectory. That would be unique. Never before have we contracted the same training agency for two consecutive years.”