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Post #750 – March 21, 2016
An Innovative Approach To Innovation?
The other day I received
this message by way of email:
“Good day Patrick; I am
getting in touch on behalf of AI Magazine (Acquisition International - www.acquisition-intl.com)
to advise you that, following months of research
by our in-house awards team, Patrick McKenna has been named one of the Most
Innovative Accountancy Firms of 2016 - Canada.”
Now I’ll bet you didn’t know
I was an accounting firm, did you? And
neither did I! But do note that the
author of this communiqué articulates quite clearly “named one of” so there are probably many more innovators being
That said, the publication
representative goes on to assure me that:
“Here at AI we have
spent recent months assessing some of the most competitive, cutting-edge and
inventive accountancy firms from across the globe to establish those most
deserving of one of our prestigious awards.
Only 1 firm from Canada will be featured, ensuring that you stand out
from the crowd for services to clients.”
WOW! Am I impressed. So what do I do now? My new-found Fan Club Chairman has some
You are welcome to
announce this news publicly, however if you would like this news to reach our
108,500+ subscribers and our 40,000+ per month website visitors, we offer the
following packages for your consideration.
And what are these packages? Well, for £300 I get a “simple listing” within the
publication, plus a trophy and a logo for use in my marketing; or for £800 I
can upgrade my simple listing to a full-page in the magazine; or for £1400 I
can get a double-page spread and a front cover headline.
NOW THAT IS INNOVATIVE.
With all of this, one should
not miss the small print at the bottom of this awards announcement:
email and any attachments to it may be confidential and are intended solely for
the use of the individual to whom it is addressed. Any views or opinions expressed are solely
those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of AI Global Media
Now could this by but one
example of why so many of the “PAY-TO-PLAY” type listings, certificates,
credentials, and awards are (and should be) highly suspect by clear thinking
Post #749 – March 1, 2016
Where Do You Spend Your Leadership Time?
I have often asked of leaders a couple of questions that usually
serves to illuminate precisely where they spend their time. The first question
I ask is: “What proportion of your time is spent solving problems versus
what proportion is spent on exploring new opportunities?” After what can
often be a rather awkward reflection period, the answer I will usually elicit
is about 80% on solving problems and 20% on exploring opportunities.
From knowing and spending time with many of them, I suspect that
it is really more like 95% on problems and 5% on opportunities, but let’s
analyze what this division of time infers. This means that as a leader, you are
spending 80% of your time and energy looking backwards and fixing things, while
only 20% looking forward and creating things. Firms operating in this mode may
be constrained in attempting to take the lead in their competitive marketplace.
So why does this happen? Well, it should be obvious that most
professionals are veteran problem solvers. We are trained to resolve the
issues, put out the fires, correct the underperformance, and generally “fix”
the problem. There is a powerful gravitational pull that unconsciously moves us
toward fixing things instead of innovating, toward restoring instead of
increasing, and toward reacting rather than being proactive.
The truth is, we secretly love the urgency of problems to be
addressed. The urgent makes us feel valued. We get an adrenalin rush from
urgent matters. With problems to be fixed we can be the hero that saves the
day. Some of us are even pros at waiting until the last minute to do something.
If we’re honest we feel more secure when we are busy doing something, even if
it isn’t the most important. That urgent little problem can sometimes actually
become a convenient excuse to ignore or put off the important. But we need to
focus our energies on where we will have the greatest impact.
We need to understand that fixing things, while however noble,
simply restores the prior performance or condition; which is comfortable, but
limits value. However, if your focus is on improving the condition, on
inspiring entrepreneurial endeavors, on being innovative; then your intent is
not on restoring the status quo, but on developing a level of performance that
exceeds any previous standards.
Now there is another question, a follow-up inquiry I tend to
pose which goes like this: “Of the time you spend on exploring
opportunities, (remember it was reported to be 20% of the total) how
much of that time is directed toward pursuing billable production, winning the
next big transaction or responding to a competitor, (the present) versus
pursuing the development of entirely new skills, new technologies, or new niche
services (the future)?
Again, if I were generous in reporting what I have learned, the
average firm leader spends about 60% of their time exploring present
opportunities and 40% on future opportunities. This, albeit unscientific
research does drive a point worth scrutiny: What kind of a future is likely to
be created by someone spending only about 8% of his or her total
leadership/management time and energy focused on the future?
Post #748 – Monday, February
Effective Leadership Requires Critical Reflection
from some meetings I’ve had these past weeks, I think every leader should
consider taking time to reflect on how their leadership actions are viewed by
the 17th century French dramatist, once said: It is not only what we do, but
also what we do not do, for which we are accountable. Is there anything that you are avoiding doing
that needs to be done? For example, are
you putting off a difficult conversation? Are you delaying any important
decisions? Are you delegating away
responsibilities that should stay in your court?
the end of each day, before you head home, take a few minutes to mentally go
over your day. Think about significant
conversations you’ve held, meetings you attended, emails you sent and other
actions you undertook. Did all of your
various interactions enhance your relationships? Could you have handled anything a touch
better? This should inspire you to plan your next day around your highest
hold of a leadership assessment form and use it to reflect on how others in
your team might critically rate you on each dimension. For example, did
you . . .
- put the interests of the team before own interests;
- share credit for successes;
- readily share relevant information;
- ask how others were doing;
- treat others with respect regardless of their position;
- foster teamwork across all groups;
- stand behind decisions made by the team;
- provide honest feedback on a timely basis.
would others candidly respond to these questions about your behavior?
one can be responsible for your state of mind. We are totally responsible for the impact that
others have on us. Understand the
disruptive effect that emotions can have on your behavior and resolve to do
something about it.
Post #747 – Monday, January
An Unprecedented 75-Year Harvard Study
New Year! I’m pleased to direct your
attention to a TED Talk that one of my friends shared with me.
What keeps us happy and healthy as we go through life? If you think it's fame and money, you're not
alone – but, according to psychiatrist Robert Waldinger, you're mistaken. As the director of a 75-year-old study on
adult development, Waldinger has unprecedented access to data on true happiness
and satisfaction. In an unprecedented study
that tracked boys from their early teens through the last years of their lives,
from all socio-economic categories, we learn the true secrets to happiness. It’s not that complicated, and it is
attainable for everyone.
In this talk, he shares three important lessons learned from his
research, as well as some practical, old-as-the-hills wisdom on how to build a
fulfilling, long life.
is the link: What Makes a Good Life
#746 – Sunday, December 13, 2015
2015 Year End Review
often asked about my consulting practice, what kinds of assignments I get
called in on, for what sized firms; what I’m currently researching and writing
about, and just generally how I spend my professional time. As always, at
this time of the year, I looked back over my various activities. With
some of these items (like clients served) activity is not a sufficient measure;
results and the client’s satisfaction are really what counts (and to that end,
you can find over 100 client testimonials and endorsements throughout this web
site). But for purposes of looking at where one’s time is invested, here
is what my 2015 looked like:
/ FIRMS SERVED
International (Europe & Asia)
Nature of Assignments:
developing / implementing strategic plans
governance and leadership issues
client relations and marketing counsel
Firm Size Range:
firms of over 500 attorneys
firms of 300 to 500 attorneys
firms of 100 to 300 attorneys
8% corporate legal departments
Participated in presenting at 2 Webinars
Group Leadership 2.0 (June)
For Overcoming Obstacles To Change (December)
Participated in 5 Conferences, Workshops & MasterClasses
– First 100
Days Masterclass (Atlanta in January)
Chaired Managing Partners
Panel Discussion – Compensation Think Tank (San Francisco in February)
Chaired Managing Partners
Panel Discussion – ALA Conference (Nashville in May)
– Practice Group Leaders Workshop (Chicago in August)
– Growth Strategies Conference (Chicago in November)
to 2 New Books:
Changing of The Guard: Selecting Your Next Firm Leader
Vision: The Future of Legal Services
(contributed two chapters)
Authored or Contributed to 40 Articles in Publications including:
Bar Association Journal
of Corporate Executive Coaches
BigLaw Business (bol.bna.com)
Law Firm Leaders Newsletter
Business Review Magazine
Partner Magazine [UK]
Counsel – Legal Practice and Management Report
Reuters Managing Partner Newsletter
Two new issues (Spring & Fall) of my INTERNATIONAL REVIEW 24-page glossy
magazine were produced and distributed to 1800 firm leaders.
Wrote and posted 22 different articles covering leadership and strategy issues
on my LinkedIn site with 10 generating over 500 reads and 5 over 1000 readers.
Appointed as a Special Advisor to
the Board of Jackson Lewis (the first quasi-NED in an AmLaw 100 law firm).
to Firm Chairman, Vincent A. Cino, “Patrick’s addition will introduce an
external business voice to our Board’s discussions, and is aligned with Jackson
Lewis’ mission to provide best in class legal services in the most efficient,
Lewis represents management exclusively in workplace law and related litigation
with over 800 attorneys in 55 offices throughout the United States and is
ranked as a Global 100 law firm.
Appointed as Honorary Fellow: Leaders Excellence of Harvard Square
honorary fellowship designation recognizes exceptional achievement and
contributions within an individual’s professional field. Leaders Excellence is
a community of leading academics and practitioners who specialize in leadership
and collaborate to share their thinking, research and experiences. To preserve
the integrity and exclusivity of the network, membership is offered on an
invitation-or qualification-only basis.
Appointed to the Advisory Board of Premonition Analytics.
is a powerful, proprietary AI technology that both sources and mines legal big
data, such as court records domestically and internationally allowing consumers
of legal services to answer commercially critical questions, such as which
lawyers usually win before which judges (read: likely case outcome).
I was invited to become a regular Thought Leadership Columnist &
Contributor to the Legal Executive Institute - http://legalexecutiveinstitute.com
Thomson Reuters Legal Executive Institute brings together people from across
the legal industry to ignite conversation and debate, make sense of the latest
events and trends, and provide guidance as you confront the opportunities and
challenges that these changes present.
Increased the size of my Linkedin site – Law Firm Leaders – to more than
Firm Leaders is the ONLY social networking site exclusively for the chairs and
managing partners of firms of over 100 lawyers in size - with 62% representing
leaders from firms of 100 to 300 lawyers; 16% from firms of 300 to 500 lawyers
and another 19% coming from firms of over 500 attorneys.
Have now received over 140 “UNSOLICITED” LinkedIn Endorsements for my strategic
expertise from firm leaders and senior professionals in major firms
& Overy (Europe); Baker & McKenzie (Asia); Barnes & Thornburg; Dickinson
Baker Daniels; Fasken Martineau (Canada); Fragomen Del Ray; Gordon & Rees;
Gowlings (Canada); Jackson Lewis; Kutak
(Europe); Mayer Brown; Miller Canfield; NautaDutilh (Europe); Nelson Mullins;
Shook Hardy & Bacon; Skadden
Arps; Thompson & Knight; and Wyatt Tarrant
all of my valued clients, colleagues and friends, I want to say thank you for
allowing me to spend time with you; for your confidence, your commitment and
your fellowship. I wish you and your
families the very best in 2016.
Post #745 – Wednesday, November
Strategies For Overcoming Obstacles To Change
Join me at my upcoming
Webinar where we will be discussing how to effectively promote change within your firm—transforming best intentions into best practices. I will be joined by three distinguished presenters:
David Morley, Senior Partner, Allen
& Overy LLP. David
is Allen & Overy's worldwide Senior Partner, a role akin to Executive
Chairman. He was elected worldwide Managing Partner, a role akin to CEO, in May
2003, elected worldwide Senior Partner in 2008 and re-elected for a further
four year term in 2012.
David J. Parnell, Legal Search &
Placement, ABA Author, Speaker, and Forbes and American Lawyer Media Columnist. Prior to founding his own lateral placement
firm, David worked in-house with the likes of Intel, Xircom, and DreamWorks
Maurice A. Watson, Chairman, Husch
Blackwell LLP. Maurice
became Chairman of Husch Blackwell in 2012. In this role, he is responsible for
developing and communicating the firm’s strategic direction and ensuring that
its policies and culture align with this direction.
This one-hour web-based discussion is designed to help you refine your change
leadership approach – so when the need for a change is acknowledged, and
everyone's running around wondering how best to approach it, you can guide your
partners around the pitfalls and transform your best intentions into best
webinar is focused on how to instigate change in a law firm setting and is
designed to focus your attention on specific change or renewal issues, like:
why many lawyers find change to be so difficult;
understanding the hurdles to bringing about change;
what definitely does not work in introducing change;
developing a sense of urgency that gets partner’s attention;
some approaches that firm leaders have found to be effective; and
fitting your leadership style to the challenge.
Click HERE for
more information and to register
Post #744 - Thursday,
October 15, 2015
First quasi-NED of a U.S. Law Firm
Jackson Lewis P.C., one of the country's
preeminent workplace law firms, is pleased to announce internationally renowned
legal strategist Patrick J. McKenna has been appointed Advisor to the Board,
where he will meet regularly with Jackson Lewis' Board of Directors to provide
confidential counsel and advice.
Lewis is thriving, in part due to our role in introducing business of law
innovations such as alternative fee arrangements and our move away from the
billable hour as an evaluative measure for associates," said Firm Chairman Vincent A. Cino. "We want to make sure
we continue to thrive. For many years I have been a proponent of operating a
law firm in the most client-centric and business-like manner. Patrick's
addition will introduce an external business voice to our Board's discussions,
and is aligned with Jackson Lewis's mission to provide best in class legal
services in the most efficient, strategic manner."
old methods of managing a law firm are no longer sufficient to address the
magnitude of changes the legal community must regularly address," added
Cino. "We have watched as law firms in Europe and Australia have brought
outside expertise to their boards by way of Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) and
while we are not yet able to follow that precise model in the U.S., we are
pleased to again stay ahead of the curve by adding this outside voice to our
McKenna, who brings with him over thirty years of extensive experience
consulting to law firms on an international scale, is an author, lecturer,
strategist and seasoned advisor to the leaders of premier professional service
firms, having served at least one of the largest law firms in over a dozen
different countries. He has authored eight books - most notably the
international business best seller, First Among Equals. Mr. McKenna has
been recognized by Lawdragon as "one of the most trusted names in legal
consulting," and his three decades of experience led to being the subject
of a Harvard Law School Case Study entitled: "Innovations In Legal Consulting."
firms today are experiencing intense competitive pressure, encouraging those
with vision to seek meaningful ways to differentiate themselves from the pack,"
said Mr. McKenna. "My research suggests adding outside expertise to a law
firm's governing body brings wider business experience and thinking to the
firm, and contributes to clients viewing the law firm as more likely to operate
with a greater awareness of prudent business practices than its peers.
Jackson Lewis is saying 'we are different and we are going to manage
differently' and I am extremely proud to be a part of their innovative
About Jackson Lewis
in 1958, Jackson Lewis is dedicated to representing management exclusively in
workplace law. With 800 attorneys
practicing in major locations throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, Jackson
Lewis is included in the AmLaw 100 and Global 100 rankings of law firms. The firm's wide range of specialized areas of
practice provides the resources to address every aspect of the
employer/employee relationship. Jackson
Lewis is a leader in educating employers about the laws of equal opportunity
and, as a firm, understands the importance of having a workforce that reflects
the various communities it serves. Jackson
Lewis is a founding member of L&E Global Employers' Counsel Worldwide, an alliance of premier
employment law firms and practices in Europe, North America and the Asia
Post #743 – Thursday,
October 8, 2015
Join Me at The
Conference on Growth Strategies
What are the implications of a shift from
unfettered growth to a market share battle? Until recently, many law firms kept doing the
same things, the same way, with the same people – as if immune to economic
pressures (while expecting ever-increasing rates to be accepted by the firm’s
After the financial reset of 2008/2009, a lot
of legal work (that would otherwise have gone to outside counsel) started
staying in-house, with clients intent on keeping it there. Clients are clearly
doing more work in-house, while law firms compete for the same (or diminishing)
In today's hyper-competitive legal market,
the best way for law firms to grow their business is at another law firm’s
expense (taking market share away from competing firms and practices).
Some firms are set on buying market share,
acquiring firms with the practices (and talent) they need to drive their
strategic growth plans. While other firms have begun marketing with a
laser-like focus in to market segments where they have a differentiating
Ark Group’s Client Growth Strategies for
Legal Services will showcase a client-centric approach to winning &
retaining business. Attendees will learn about law firm client service
approaches, models and measures that industry leaders are employing to better
serve their clients, enable stronger relationships, and provide a platform for
differentiation and growth.
For my part I will be presenting on the topic
of: Strategic Planning For Practice
For More Information and to Register - Click Here
Post #742 – Tuesday,
September 8, 2015
The Fall 2015 Issue of International Review
Is Now Available
INTERNATIONAL REVIEW is my 24-page glossy, printed
magazine distributed to over 1600 law firm chairs and managing partners
throughout North America.
start with some prescriptive counsel on how your industry groups need to better
Industry Dynamics in order to be successful, and then continue with a
reminder of how you need to Schedule Time For Strategic Thinking
as it could arguably be the most important activity in your leadership role.
I have never been a fan of “branding” and watched over the years as numerous
law firms have wasted incredible monetary resources in various expensive
advertising experiments, I am nevertheless going to stick my neck out and
suggest that The Value In Developing A Leadership Brand is there for every
firm leader to employ.
Pages 12 and 13 are
intended to introduce you to my newest work, The Changing of The Guard:
Selecting Your Next Firm Leader, and How New Managing Partners Can
Avoid Being Blindsided is a related one-on-one interview with the
Editor of Managing Partner Magazine.
How Effective Leaders Delegate has its origins in a survey that I send out
to new managing partners, after their First 100 Days (see back cover) inquiring
about their most unexpected challenges and the last piece, Why Law Firms Need Non-Executive
Directors is included to provoke your thinking about a trend that has
been paying dividends for UK and Australian law firms for a few years now.
As always, I sincerely hope that you find some practical
ideas, tips and techniques here that you can put to use immediately.
Please send me your observations, critiques, comments and suggestions with
respect to any of these articles.
Click on the Cover to download your complimentary PDF copy of
Post #741 – Tuesday,
September 1, 2015
2020 Vision: The Future of Legal Services
I’m pleased to have
contributed two separate chapters to this new 116-page Ark report designed to help law firm leaders assess the lay of the legal
landscape, prepare for foreseeable change, and above all to position themselves
so that they are ready to respond to the unseen challenges and opportunities
Wind back the clock 20 years or so to when law
firms held all the cards. At that time,
clients paid an hourly rate with few complaints, allowing firms to work as they
chose, and those clients were loyal. Lawyers specialized right out of law
school, and were prepared to work round the clock for a shot at the brass ring
of partnership. What is now known as the “traditional” law firm business model
was then the only one, and that model made money. In the decade leading up to
the economic downturn, revenues in the legal sector grew steadily every year.
All that has changed.
Now, firms are operating in a “buyers” market,
with non-traditional competitors and new technologies encroaching on what was
once the sole province of traditional firms; endemic overcapacity threatens
those firms’ profitability; and clients spread available work across a variety
of providers – or keep it in house. Moreover, a new generation of “millennial”
lawyers is now well established in the profession – and they have very
different expectations about working styles, workplace culture, and job
For better or worse, the legal industry has
changed radically over the past two decades – arguably more so than it had done
in the previous century. What is more, the pace of change continues to
accelerate as new technologies develop, and client businesses – already ahead
of their law firms when it comes to embracing technology and streamlining processes – demand certain efficiencies as a
prerequisite for sending work a law firm’s way. The speed of evolution is such
that, looking just five years into the future, we can predict even more major
changes for law firms.
In this fast-moving, competitive, increasingly
varied environment, only the most agile firms – those able to respond rapidly
to future trends – are likely to succeed. 2020 Vision: The Future of Legal
Services brings together the advice of leading industry practitioners and
consultants who scan the legal horizon for indicators of change, offer their
predictions, and share experience and practical guidance to help law firm
leaders prepare for what is coming up next.
For more information
on this publication - click here
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