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  • Writer's pictureKeith Kemph

Leaders, It’s Time to Shovel Snow!


By Keith Kemph, President CEO, BlackFin Group

Living in Denver provides immeasurable work-life balance rewards throughout the year. However, there is an occasional snow fall when I can either grab the high-powered Briggs & Stratton, 212cc, 2 stage, self-propelling snow blower – or simply pick up the snow shovel for a light workout. After a recent early November snowfall, I opted for the snow shovel.

As I often do, I'll look for analogies in the day-to-day to help challenge my client’s or the greater industry us as we look ahead. In preparation for 2024, it’s time for you as a leader start shoveling some snow within the walls of your business.

Clearing Obstacles: Shoveling snow is akin to clearing obstacles in business. Just as snow can obstruct paths and driveways, obstacles such as challenges, competition, and market changes can impede business progress. The act of shoveling represents the proactive efforts a business takes to clear these hurdles, allowing for smoother operations and progress. Have you conducted a top to bottom business and technology review?

Adaptation to Change: Snowfall is unpredictable, and the conditions can change rapidly. Similarly, the business environment is dynamic and subject to constant change. A successful business, like an effective snow shoveler, must be adaptable and responsive to changing circumstances to thrive in the ever-evolving marketplace. What is your continuous improvement strategy?

Preventive Maintenance: Shoveling snow before it accumulates too much can be seen as a form of preventive maintenance. In business, this could be likened to addressing small issues before they escalate into significant problems. Regularly assessing and addressing challenges, customer concerns, or operational inefficiencies can prevent larger complications down the road. What is your continuous feedback loop strategy with your staff and customers?

Efficiency and Productivity: Shoveling snow ‘efficiently’ requires the right tools, techniques, and a strategic approach. Similarly, in business, employing the right resources, technology, and strategies can enhance efficiency and productivity. This might include optimizing processes, utilizing technology, and having a well-trained workforce.

Customer Satisfaction: Just as a well-shoveled pathway can bring satisfaction to homeowners, meeting customer needs in business is crucial. Providing a clear and smooth experience for customers, whether in terms of products or services, contributes to customer satisfaction and loyalty. Remember, what we do is more than just a mortgage transaction.

Team Collaboration: Shoveling snow, especially for larger areas, often requires a team effort. In business, collaboration among team members is key to overcoming challenges and achieving common goals. Each member plays a role in ensuring the overall success of the business, much like individuals working together to clear a snowy area. What is your strategy to ensure successful teamwork and collaboration throughout the year?

Seasonal Planning: Snowfall is seasonal, and businesses often face seasonal fluctuations. Planning for these changes, whether in terms of demand, marketing strategies, or sales strategies is crucial. Businesses must adapt their operations to the different "seasons" they encounter in the market. Is it time to break out of the traditional mortgage lending mind-set?

Resilience and Endurance: Shoveling snow can be physically demanding and requires endurance. Similarly, running a business can be challenging, requiring resilience to weather tough times. The ability to persist in the face of adversity is vital for both shoveling snow and navigating the ups and downs of the mortgage industry.

While the uncanny parallel between shoveling snow and the mortgage business can convey critical principles and strategies for success, just remember there are no short cuts to success in 2024. Is your organization ready? Have you methodically plowed the snow for your team so they can operate more efficiently and effectively? Opportunity abounds, you just need to be armed with the right tools and implement the right strategies to capitalize on the market.

Keith Kemph is President & CEO of BlackFin Group, a management consulting firm that specializes in the banking, mortgage, and financial services industry. Keith has dedicated his career to helping firms ensure successful execution of critical business and technology projects to help them operate more efficiently and effectively. Keith's career includes management and executive roles with Citigroup, Bank of America, Dime Bank, Merrill Lynch and nearly a decade with a traditional top tier consulting firm in the financial services industry. For more information contact

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