What is your top priority?
Keeping your best clients happy?
Getting down the number of complaints?
The thing is whatever you have singled out as the top priority, you have to commit to it with all your passion, guts, determination and effort. Too often I have been asked to attend meeting after meeting where the same issue is discussed ad nauseam, only to discover that despite the best of intentions no one has actually done anything to move the project on. You often get that resigned look but no one wants to speak up and say what they are really thinking.
The thing is, lawyers are trained to argue a point or the semantics of a document or piece of detailed legislation and that ability serves them well when representing their client’s interest; but it is counterproductive when it comes to getting things done. Lawyers tend to the view their work (meaning chargeable time) as the top and sometimes the only priority and heaven help the person (even a partner sometimes) who tries to back them into a corner and explain their rather dilatory approach to a new project. It is like watching a coiled rattlesnake ready to unleash its venom.
My answer to this is a simple one and is borrowed from Tom Peters’ latest book The Little Big Things: “The calendar never lies”. Meaning that if you want to change something quantitatively then you have to commit to it the only thing you have, namely your time.
Before the next meeting, assuming, let’s say, that you have made sales your top priority, have a look at the diaries of everyone who is due to attend (including possibly your own). I bet you that save in the rarest of cases that those champions who had signalled their intention to spend time on sales will have spent less than 10% of their time on this key subject.
You decide what is the critical or tipping point for the annointed task but surely 50% would be the minimum threshold to achieve real momentum. Of course, this will bring to the fore all sorts of issues like the split between chargeable and non-chargeable time, the annual fees and time targets and how it might reflect on the rest of the team. But if this issue is truly top of the agenda then no reason save for a possible injunction or emergency rememdy should get in the way of driving things forward.
This task carries with it a high embarassment factor and you may be feel that the issues raised are better dealt with in private, but let’s face it before you accept second best on a project, go check out some diaries. You sure will be in for a surprise and you need to be prepared to deal with the consequences.
Remember “The calendar never, ever, ever lies”, Tom Peters.
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