Do Professional Services Firms Have Legacy Costs?

When we talk about legacy costs, we usually think about aging capital-intensive industries. Car manufacturers have legacy platforms, facilities, processes, or healthcare costs. Airlines have legacy contracts, aging aircraft, or route networks. We assume that professional services firms can’t have legacy costs: there’s no fixed capital, and the people involved are smart, dynamic thinkers. But … Read more Do Professional Services Firms Have Legacy Costs?

The Three Mindset Barriers to Business Development

In my work coaching professionals around business development, I’ve found that there are usually three reasons people turn to a coach: 1. Skills When you make partner, your job fundamentally changes: you’re expected to bring in business, not just work on it. But most firms do a poor job preparing associates or managers to become … Read more The Three Mindset Barriers to Business Development

To Bid or Not To Bid? Four Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Prepare a Proposal

The days when clients would engage you to conduct an assessment as part of a ‘paid selling opportunity’ are long over. Instead, clients want you to spend your own time to understand their problem and propose how to solve it. Further, preparing a competitive RFP response requires senior practitioners to spend hours gathering information, responding … Read more To Bid or Not To Bid? Four Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Prepare a Proposal

Gretzky vs. Bezos: Responding to Change With Resilience and Adaptability

Whenever I have a conversation about strategy, it’s one of the most common quotes that comes up.  Firm leaders want to be like Wayne Gretzky and “Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”  But in business, there isn’t just one puck, and rather than following a straight trajectory, it’s bouncing … Read more Gretzky vs. Bezos: Responding to Change With Resilience and Adaptability

Handling Complexity: The Checklist Manifesto for Professional Services

I just finished reading Atul Gawande’s The Checklist Manifesto – a book that has been sitting on my kindle for an embarrassing amount of time, but which I put off because I thought reading the New Yorker article was enough.  I was wrong: this is one of the most important books I’ve read for thinking … Read more Handling Complexity: The Checklist Manifesto for Professional Services

Managing the Captive Research and Analytics Firm

Last year, we undertook a research project to examine an under-explored type of professional services firm: research and analytics firms that are tightly held and closely aligned with a parent company like a PR, advertising, or media agency. We call these captive agencies because they’re much more tightly integrated with their parent firm than a … Read more Managing the Captive Research and Analytics Firm

The New Hunters and Farmers: Compensation is about Risk, Not Incentives

Famer

One of the most common tropes when thinking about business developers is the dichotomy between “hunters” and “farmers”. It tends to crop up when looking at business development styles: hunters going out and finding new business, then quickly move on. Farmers cultivating relationships over the long term. David Maister used a similar distinction to describe … Read more The New Hunters and Farmers: Compensation is about Risk, Not Incentives

Just Keep Swimming: Business Development Lessons from Finding Dory

Warning: There might be some spoilers ahead…but it’s for a Pixar movie, and they all follow the same basic story rules. The key message in Finding Dory, Pixar’s sequel to the 2003 hit Finding Nemo, is a contrast between two approaches to life. On the one hand, careful cautious clownfish Marlon wants to rationally analyze every situation, … Read more Just Keep Swimming: Business Development Lessons from Finding Dory