There has been a great deal written about how businesses should “know who they are, ” “decide which business they want to be in, ” and “figure out where they want to go.” Seems like sound advice. But little has been written specifically for professional service firms. And when a group of consultants, or architects, or lawyers, or what-have-you, resolves to “reinvent themselves, ” or “refocus their businesses, ” or “create a unique identity in the marketplace, ” one of two things often happens. Either the firm begins a massive change effort without first thinking through the deep, long-term, operational implications of the action (maybe launching a branding campaign, or restructuring internally, or acquiring another firm) or it creates a high-profile task force and launches a long-term study that produces reams of data and ends up spawning more questions than existed to begin with. The outcome of either scenario can be, at the least, frustration (imagine the internal squabbling! the misdirected initiatives! the abandoned efforts!), or worse, business stagnation and derailment.
I wrote this book to help professional service firms of all shapes and sizes avoid these and similar unpalatable outcomes. I wrote it to help professional service firms build a market-driven infrastructure—that is, to take the small but continuous steps needed to master their competitive arena as a matter of course, so they never have to make any grand