“Focusing is about saying No!” Steve Jobs
I was reviewing an article regarding the 13th Annual America’s Best Corporate Law Firms study and was struck with how consistent the same names appear on this list — year in and year out. Even if you haven’t seen it, chances are you can name many of the firms that have a stranglehold on a position on this enviable list.
It begs the question for firms seeking to achieve a similar position — How did these firms secure their position? And what will it take for your firm to capture a similar position?
The answer is simple……….. Focus
Firms that hold dominant market positions have found a way to align who they are and what they do on a daily basis with the market position to which they aspire.
Dominant law firms hire, spend, acquire, merge, and compensate based on one question: Does this investment align with our strategic focus? If it does not, it eats away at the desired position…and weakens the law firm.
The path to dominance is easy to define in theory. Identifying and navigating the right path for your firm is much more challenging in practice. A thousand good ideas, disparate aspirations and diverse views combine in an assault against focused and disciplined decision-making.
Without unwavering focus on the desired market position, every good idea seems worthy of investment. Any opportunity to expand can appear to support growth. Every opportunity can seem to be a good one; however, at the end of the year you find yourself having made significant investments, but no closer to your firm’s desired market position.
And the discussion is not limited to aspirations of a position of market dominance. The principle applies to whatever your aspirations are. Without disciplined focus your odds of achieving what you would like to achieve are greatly diminished.
Here are the guideposts that lead to the aligned law firm…and will help you chart your firm’s course to stability, the profitability you desire, and yes — market dominance.
- Identify the market position to which you and your partners aspire. (You can guess…but this is most effectively accomplished through a series of interviews/discussions designed to identify your shared vision.)
- Audit your expenses and define which move you closer to the position you desire. (Whatever they are – office space, infrastructure, people — begin now to create an expense ledger that is devoid of the things that do not move you toward your desired market position.)
- What is lacking…in terms of talent, location, support and infrastructure? Build a plan that moves you from where you are today to where you need to be…and invest appropriately.
- Consider each decision in this context – will this move us closer to the market position we’ve targeted?
Is your firm on its way to the top?