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The Three Step Guide to Agility in Professional Services

Mar 8, 2019 12:48:19 PM

The idea of agility in the Professional Services world is largely foreign with many firms claiming to be progressive and forward thinking but still operating with an “old world” mentality.

These firms stick to decade-old best practices, and persist with inefficient processes because “that’s how we’ve always done it”

And I get it

Better the devil you know, right?

But this mentality and thought process poses a number of issues

  1. There are means to increase margins and profitability available you’ve likely not looked at
  2. Staff get impatient using old sub-par systems and processes
  3. Clients being billed by the hour are fed up with paying extra because a hesitation to adapt
There’s many more but these are the big ones

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s essential to acknowledge what you’ve built success to date on, but when your industry is experiencing a dramatic shift and you’re strategy is to stick with what has always worked then there’s a flaw in the plan.

What clients want from firms has changed.

They now expect more from the relationship, they want more proactive service, more value from your expertise, and most importantly they want you to turn your experience into insights they can’t get anywhere else

What’s always worked simply can’t deliver these things and more importantly, if it’s the same thing all of your peers are doing you need to be asking “well what’s stopping my clients from going elsewhere”

This can be confronting question to ask but with professional services stagnating GLOBALLY if you’re to buck the trend you need to have a damn good answer for this question

If you don’t, then the consequence is that despite all the experience and expertise you’ve gained your service becomes a commodity which is forced to focus on winning low-value work and puts pressure on firms to generate exponentially more business because your revenue opportunities are capped

The easy way to overcome this bleak future is to look to truly become a progressive, “agile” firm

This shift can be hard to start so instead of giving you a bunch of things to go and change immediately I wanted to start by giving you three traits to adopt in-house to shape the way you approach things.

  1. Be curious

    Now, on face value, this seems a little ambiguous so let me elaborate.

    When I say be curious I mean continue to look at means to get better, acknowledge there might be better ways to do things, swallow your pride and acknowledge “I don’t always know best” removing this ego will enable you to view your “competitors” as “rivals” and learn from them.

  2. Think like a client

    What do Uber, Apple, and Google all have in common?

    The answer is simple they put the end user first to drive their growth, now I totally understand if you go “well that’s great for them but how do I use this?”

    It’s baby steps, a really positive start is to shift the internal conversations from “how do I get more out of my clients?” to “how can I contribute more to my clients” look for ways to add deeper value to them.

  3. Understand when to use your agility

    This is a big one, it’s not always a right to exercise your agility

    Business agility is a skill best used in times of instability and change which the Professional Services Industry has just gone through (see here)

    So you see, now is the perfect time to become agile and look for innovative ways to grow your firm, not just by looking at what peers are doing but by also looking for inefficiencies in how you operate today and the opportunities those inefficiencies create.

I know this is a three-step guide but I wanted to add one more thing for you to consider before you start metaphorically “limbering up” for your new found agility.

Make sure you’re going the right way, we’ve all fallen victim to shiny object syndrome where we run 100/mph in one direction only to find out it’s not the best fit.

We’ve recently published this E-Book which gives firms an ideal starting point for their agility and touches on some things that you can put in place right now to “future proof” your firm.

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