There are three building blocks of a professional service firm's market-driven infrastructure: looking out, digging deeper, and embedding innovation. Each building block, which is comprised of a number of firm-wide competencies or natural aptitudes, embodies a looking out, digging deeper, or embedding innovation way of doing business. This chapter explores the looking-out building block in depth. The following two chapters cover digging deeper and embedding innovation, in turn.
The building block called looking out features three practices or methods that allow professional service firms to get an early look at client, competitor, and marketplace shifts: (1) studying a firm's clients using outside qualitative and quantitative research; (2) researching the market using economic forecasts and trend analyses; and (3) researching competitors by gathering competitive intelligence. Each of these looking out techniques serves to give a professional service firm a reliable sounding board on which to evaluate new opportunities or threats. Collectively, they help a professional service firm to develop concrete grounding for future business decisions and new strategies.