Posted by: johnocunningham | January 11, 2016

Imagine: Clients Building Your Firm With You

An article entitled, “The Law Firm as a Learning Organization,” caught my attention in December, and got me to thinking about the myriad possibilities for client development and communications enhancement raised in one two-sentence paragraph.

The paragraph penned by author Mark Beese is as follows:

“Some innovative firms are mixing training with client service and business development by inviting clients to join them in courses on project management, process improvement, leadership development and innovation. Can you imagine the relationships, teamwork and loyalty built between legal professionals and clients by learning together?”

Over the years, I have interviewed the managing partners and/or CMOs at leading-edge firms that pioneered the idea of involving clients in firm initiatives to improve service and innovation, and they have affirmed the bounty of benefits flowing from client integration into law firm management.

The managing partner and CMO at one of the world’s most successful firms both told me that they would never consider navigating their ship without client input and involvement, noting that they learned the value of this in large part from business leadership courses they took at one of the world’s best business schools. As was pointed out to me, companies with decades of success, such as GE and Procter & Gamble, have integrated customer input into their management direction and focus for close to a century.

For example, as noted in a 2002 Harvard Business Review article,  GE’s board members for a long time used to dine with the company’s largest suppliers and distributors to customers the night before the annual meeting; and P&G had a tradition of including customers on their management boards or committees at one time too.

As Tom Peters and Nancy Austin suggested in their business study on “A Passion for Excellence,” the key to long-term success is just this: ”First, take exceptional care of your customers . . . via superior service and superior quality. Second, constantly innovate [with them in mind]. That’s it.”

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