In March we published Are We Listening, in it we set out an equation for growth. We suggested that you should become a client partner rather than be client centric. You should have a forward looking strategy that can respond to volatile and uncertain times. However, for the biggest impact you need to get professionals across the board engaging in business development.
How are is an equation about growth relevant in the context Covid19?
We suggest that we should strive to partner with your clients rather than be client-centric. That is key in today’s new world. Clients will be facing a very different future and will have very different concerns than they did a few months ago.
We should be focused on how we can walk shoulder to shoulder with them. We should be constantly speaking with them and flexing our offerings to meet their every changing needs. When asked what they needed right now, GCs told us that empathy and compassion were key (to see what else they told us read our article).
At the heart of our report is the theme of listening. To clients, to each other. I believe that is truer today than ever before. We need to listen with empathy to those around us. We need to be better listeners if we are to see our way through together.
We discuss how firms need to have strategy that can adapt to a VUCA world. This is an extreme example of VUCA. Does your strategy enable you to be flexible? Are you constantly looking at your clients and working out how to adapt as their needs change? Those who remain wedded to an outdated strategy will be the first to show signs of trouble in a VUCA world.
Having everyone work together is going to be key. Messages need to be coordinated. Communication needs to be clear. Professionals need to speak with their clients and feedback internally. Anxiety among professionals about “doing BD” and what is right will be acute.
The focus for the coming months should be on listening to clients and adapting. That is business development too. Developing the trust that is so important in relationships and so important now.
The coming months will be more about survival than growth. Whilst the equation was used with numbers taken from a year when most law firms grew on average by 5%, this model works equally when growth has stalled. Indeed survival is often a stronger motivator. When we wrote our report, one of the clients we spoke to said, “in-house lawyers are under enormous cost pressures - lawyers know this, but the senior equity partner earning £x just isn’t motivated to change his model”.
Survival is different. We need to adapt and change because doing what we did before just isn’t an option.