It can always Wait

People often complain that watching a cycle race is like watching paint dry.

Admittedly, if you have to listen to 5 hours of David Duffield, it can get pretty monotonous (others may disagree).

Even if you are a committed fan, you know that most of the real ‘action’ doesn’t happen until the last 20km.

But what of law?

Any similarities?

Does Clementi come to mind?

Here is the OFT’s press release dated 15 December 2004:

“Much-needed improvements to competition and choice for users of legal services should result from the recommendations for reform in the Clementi Report on the regulatory framework for legal services in England and Wales, published today.”

And yet you would think that we were in the last 20km (so to speak).

Unfortunately, nothing can wait:

> Having a meaningful strategy;

> Showing leadership;

> Answering the Why, How and What of your business;

> Developing everyone to achieve their potential;

> Differentiation of your service;

> Delivering excellence;

> Outsourcing;

> Value based billing;

> Embracing technology;

> Social media.

Billing is everything. And why shouldn’t it be?

No revenue = No business.

But billing and all the paraphernalia that goes with it, obscures so many issues that are pressing on your firm.

For firms of a certain size, change is incredibly hard. It’s not just a mindset thing, it also comes about because of the sheer weight of numbers. Is it any wonder that smaller firms are more fleet of foot? Removing the friction is hard. You might as well not bother sometimes: by the time you have made a decision, the market has already usurped you. Even if you have delegated the ‘running’ of the firm to a small cadre of partners, there is still the Partnership or Members Agreement to consider. There is no doubt some wrinkle that stops you being as active or strident as you would like. Bruised egos and all that stuff.

Nothing should escape scrutiny. Even though the pressure is firmly to stay solvent, now is a fantastic time to examine every aspect of the business to make sure that it can withstand the pressure of the market. Don’t tinker. Radical change should be your driving theme. It’s not a case of thinking outside the box, but rather thinking at the edges of the box. If you pride yourself on excellence now, what would happen if a new competitor came along and doubled your efficiency, did everything 50% cheaper and outsourced more than 80% of their work? How would you compete?

Time waits for no one.

Waiting for things to pan out is not a strategy.

If you are going to make innovation of strategic importance then it will require more than the occasional rant and suggestion of what you might be able to do. You need to act. And you have to give it serious time. Google reputedly allows it employees 20% free time to look at new or radical solutions (Gmail is a good example). How much of your fee earners’ time is given over to innovation?

Perhaps Gandhi’s saying should be the first thing to utter at the start of every meeting:

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

If you don’t drive the agenda then your clients or the market will.

They won’t wait for you to come up with the latest service nuance. They will already have picked your competitor.

You have spent a lifetime in service to the profession.

Surely that counts for something?

Are you going to be undone by a young pretender.

Stop basking in the glory of your past success. Go out there are stand for something.


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