Decisions based on facts (not fiction)
Our clients are high-achievers and top experts, often each partner has their own particular view of the firm (what needs fixing or not) and the best way forward. We find that it's very helpful to take a step back, while developing a shared perspective of their challenges.
A business can´t get to the heart of the problem without understanding it's current position and issues. Working together with a firm´s head of finance, we can review the "business health" then assist partners in working through the relevance in terms of the firm, practices, people and clients.
Choosing the way forward is risky without knowing what the client is thinking. A data analysis allows us to track the changes in client base - services, industries, pricing and profitability. Also, we often interview clients:
As part of the business analysis, finding out in broad terms how they view the firm vis-a-vis competitors - pricing, service delivery, the proportion of work awarded to them or competitors, their likes and dislikes, plus room for improvement etc.
When reviewing potential strategic options ("If we were to open an office in Timbuktu, would you give us your local work?").
We all face competitors, and some law firms do become obsessive about what others are doing.
Our experience tells us that you cannot build competitive advantage by simply following others, but competitor research can help us unlock the buying environment: Who is buying what services, from whom, and at what price? What are the various services and competencies on offer within the different market segments?
More than the competitors, the key is to decide who we want to avoid or go head-to-head against - unless the research tells us we can make a new market for ourselves.
None of our businesses work in a vacuum: the demand for legal services rises and falls with the economic fortunes of the regions, industries and clients with which they work.
Before making a bet on your best opportunities going forward - the target services, clients, industries and geographies - it is important to understand the political, economic, legal and regulatory changes ahead.
The research on professionals is clear: individuals won't hold themselves accountable for decisions they did not feel part of. We have all seen colleagues switch to critics - in private or public - when they feel they haven´t had their say. But as a law firm grows, can everyone be a decision-maker?
It is important to engage with stakeholders when reviewing potential change. We often survey stakeholders, feeding their views back into decision-making.
Not only does this make for higher quality thinking, key influencers can play their part in developing a common approach going forward.