Earlier this week I delivered a webinar to Engineering New Zealand (NZ) member regarding Client Hierarchy and how understanding your client cohorts enables organisations to design their business development or growth strategies more effectively.
One of the questions I get asked most often (after the ‘how do I pronounce your name, oh that is unusual, where is that from?’) is how do you find out so much about people so quickly? And I cheerfully tell them the secret is one question, ‘Tell me your story’.
Over the past twelve months I have been working with Blair Enns to establish a new consulting service, Win Without Pitching (WWP) - Professional Services. Our partnership brings together the proven WWP value creation and growth approach and First Follower’s expertise in successfully growing professional services.
We truly believe this unique approach will transform those working in consultative environments, including architectural* and design firms, legal services, consulting engineers and accountants.
I’ve never been great at mindfulness or meditating, and yoga well let’s just say I’m the person at the back of the room looking decidedly like a downward dog but with far less grace. Namaste indeed!
Part of the issue is having a way too busy brain which is always making lists, analysing what has gone on that day, what could have been done better, following up on the actions from last week, scooting ahead as I calculate what needs to be done for my clients (there are apparently 80 odd working days left this year everyone…!) and and and…you get the picture.
Earlier this week I was reading my eldest daughter's electronic journal (Seesaw) which enables you to view photos and updates of the work being undertaken throughout the term. The update related to a story plan Olivia was developing, and her teacher had commented 'pebble, rock, boulder'.
This month is all about hard hats, construction, consent, compliance and seismic engineering. Which may seem somewhat of a juxtaposition to the perception of the work undertaken by First Follower.
But let me take you back twenty odd years. I was the Communications Manager on the Hallam Bypass freeway project (which to this day I can recite the spiel ‘this $165M, 7.5km freeway project will reduce congestion and improve access through the growth corridor of Casey, the fastest growing municipality in Australia. Removing 10 sets of traffic light…’ oh boy!
Here at First Follower we design and execute growth strategies for professional services firms.
Growth can mean different things to different organisations. The first thing we do is ask about the desired future state, and how the firm is looking to grow. For example, is the organisation looking to:
Over the past three weeks I have been living on campus at Harvard Business School (HBS), undertaking the first unit of the Owner President Management (OPM) program. It is a three-year program, with participants coming from all over the world. The faculty is phenomenal. It is absolutely like drinking from a fire hose.
Last week I travelled to the US, firstly to Nashville to meet the amazing David C. Baker (more on that another time) and then onwards to Austin, Texas to join the inspirational Win Without Pitching Team. We had a phenomenal afternoon filming with Chad Owen from Stimulus followed by a private tour and dinner at the University of Texas Longhorns stadium, courtesy of the lovely Jeff Hahn.
I’m a great believer in learning from other industries, which is why over the past twelve months I have become slightly obsessed with the quiet revolution that has taken place in the creative services and design industries over the better part of the last decade, led by Blair Enns.
It is true. I did get fired…as a client. Or as they very politely put it “we are retiring ourselves from your account”. After three months. Ouch.
I’m not going to lie, it caused significant issues in my business. The projects they were working on were on a critical timeline. Their decision to cease work resulted in stressful days and sleepless nights to get things back on track. Then I started to reflect. Was I a bad client?
Most of us can name several companies considered to be successful disruptors. But what happens when we apply these principles to our own personal ecosystem? We can easily overlook our own disruptive strengths instead of striking out on a new path that could significantly increase our chances of success both financially and emotionally.
I recently had the opportunity to return to Hong Kong, the city I first discovered 20 years ago as a scholarship student. It was 1997 and the end of an era with the handover from the British to the Chinese taking place on 30 June.
I flew Ansett. We landed at Kai Tak, on the infamous airport runway where you could see the washing on the lines of the high rises lining the approach.
Following on from International Women's Day, I have been inspired and challenged by those internal and external to my organisation to think about practical actions that can be taken to achieve gender parity in the workplace. I note here that diversity is not limited to gender, but also sexuality, nationality, age and disability. My reflections apply to all of the categories.
Today I have had the opportunity to spend the day with the KPMG National Infrastructure, Government and Healthcare leadership team. We stopped to think about the question 'what does government look like in 2020?'.