Articles

Core Values for Data Science

By | December 1st, 2016|Practices|

Donald Trump's surprise 2016 electoral victory forced me to reflect on the role of data in election prognostication, but more specifically on my own experiences helping organizations use data to make predictions and decisions. In doing so, I recognized two values critical to analytical success that were not only missing from many of the election forecasts, but have also been absent in the media hype around big data and advanced analytics. Both data scientists and [...]

Do You Have a Sales Problem or a Marketing Problem?

By | November 7th, 2016|Relationships|

If you want to grow revenue, do you need to improve your sales capabilities?  Not necessarily.  In fact, of the nearly two-dozen professional services firms I've had the privilege of getting to know over the past few years, only one of them had a sales problem.  For the rest, the real challenge was that their otherwise qualified business developers - whether they were partners or dedicated salespeople - didn't have enough qualified opportunities to sell [...]

What Airport Noise Complaints Teach Us About Time Management

By | October 25th, 2016|Leadership, Strategy|

As a consultant, I spend so much time on planes that the noise of a jet engine is a soothing lullaby. But for the people who live near the airport, those same noises can keep them awake at night. Most airports have noise abatement programs in place to balance the needs of community members with the economic benefits a community gets from traveling business people and leisure travelers. Recently, two economists at George Mason University, [...]

There Are No Keys to Success

By | October 18th, 2016|Careers|

Would you pay to learn the key to success?  The secret to health, wealth, and happiness?  If so, you're not alone.  Americans spend nearly ten-billion dollars per year on self-help products from gurus touting the secrets to help you lose weight, get rich, or find the perfect mate. At the risk of destroying their industry, I'll share the key to success with you for free.  There isn't one. Success is not a door that you [...]

When Clients Trust Your Advice But Not Your Business

By | September 22nd, 2016|Uncategorized|

Trusting Advice vs. Trusting a Business In nearly every industry I work with, practitioners describe themselves the same way: "we are trusted advisors to our clients."  The "trusted advisor" model is seen as both an attained aspiration and a necessary part of doing business.  But when I look across the professions, I see an interesting dichotomy where clients simultaneously trust the advice of the individual or team while growing deeply un-trusting of their firms' business [...]

My Three Favorite Books For Professionals (Or Anyone)

By | September 13th, 2016|Leadership, Strategy|

If I were to create a book group for professionals at any level, whether you're just starting out or you're leading a firm, I wouldn't use books written about management or leadership, or books written for their respective industries.  Instead, I'd pick the three general non-fiction books here, on which I've built a large part of my practice. The Upside of Down by Megan McArdle At some point in our careers, we all have to [...]

Preventing Burnout: Compensation Isn’t the Answer

By | September 6th, 2016|People|

Leaders in professional firms often struggle to prevent staff burnout; an issue that can seriously impact the success of their business. If a burnt out associate stays on at the firm, their productivity decreases and their attitudes worsen. And when an associate leaves, the firm suffers the loss of institutional knowledge, experience, project continuity, and key relationships that were developed with clients. Leaders then fear how they’ll get the work done and still deliver superior [...]

Your Industry Is Dying, The Solution is Reinvention

By | August 30th, 2016|Careers, Strategy|

The typewriter industry died when it was supplanted by the personal computer. But the typewriter company that realized they were actually experts in selling business machines is now a multi-billion dollar global behemoth. The internet and e-mail destroyed the market for postage meters, but Pitney Bowes is still around because the internet also created new commercial opportunities for an expert in tracking and moving physical goods. It's been decades since telegrams were meaningful, but Western [...]

For PR Agencies, Culture Matters (A Lot)

By | August 25th, 2016|People|

It's repeated to the point that it's cliché: talent matters.  How you recruit, organize, engage, motivate, and deploy your people matters.  But with constant client demands and a changing landscape, it can be easy to let talent management fall by the wayside.  When recruiting new leaders, many firms recruit superstar individual contributors without thinking about whether those people can lead.  That's a mistake, and the numbers in our latest research bare it out. We took [...]

You Already Have The Best Technology For Feedback: A Conversation

By | August 23rd, 2016|People|

With firms everywhere getting rid of annual performance reviews, the new mantra is continuous feedback.  To help support the shift, a variety of HR vendors have changed up their software from a long box that you have to fill out once a year to a shorter box you fill out more frequently, or an inbox that collects feedback from e-mails.   But beware technology-driven process changes that don't solve your real problem.  The most powerful technology for feedback [...]