Blogging Goes Mainstream

When I wrote Living Networks in 2002, opening with a description of how Macromedia was using blogs to disseminate information, blogging was to many a curiosity. Today almost everyone has heard of it, and it truly has become mainstream. Business Development Institute is running a Blogging Goes Mainstream conference in New York on May 3, featuring Microsoft star blogger Robert Scoble as keynote. I’ll be running a session at the conference on blogging and knowledge management.

MeshForum in Chicago

As part of the whole shift to recognizing networks as central to everything, MeshForum is shaping up as a fantastic conference in Chicago this May 1-4. Shannon Clark is the driving force behind this, and he and his colleagues have brought together a fabulous array of content including social, business and biological networks. I’ll be running a Living Networks Forum session at lunch on May 2, just before a session on social networks run by Esther Dyson

The next phase of Social Network Analysis

Rob Cross of University of Virginia, author of The Hidden Power of Social Networks, has formed the Network Roundtable, a consortium of at last count 40 leading organizations that are applying network approaches in areas including leadership, innovation, and client relationships. The kick-off meeting will be on April 27 in Boston. I will be presenting on our research project on enhancing client relationship teams. Applying network analysis promises to be one of the most powerful approaches to improving cross-selling capabilities and driving deeper, broader, more profitable client relationships. I am also beginning to delve into other applications of social networks, including industry associations, professional networks, and global industry networks. A lot more on this anon.

Preface to the Second Edition

The second edition of Developing Knowledge Based Client Relationships will be launched in New York in June. Below is the preface to the second edition, which gives a good overview of what the book is about… Click on “Read more” below to see the full text.

Two chapters from the book will be posted on my website for free download shortly.

“As I write these words it is almost exactly five and a half years since I finished writing the first edition of this book. The release of the book in January 2000 helped launch a powerful wave of interest in the topic. Immediately after its release, the book was ranked #1 on Amazon.com from Australia for over two months, and since then has spent time on a range of Amazon.com bestseller lists, including the Deloitte & Touche bestseller list for over two years. Not long ago the book went into its fifth printing. The concept of knowledge-based relationships has now become a broadly acknowledged aspect of leading business thinking and practice. Many other threads came together to create this momentum, however I hope the detailed treatment of the topic in the first edition of this book helped to crystallize this emerging domain.

Much has happened since the first edition came out, certainly in terms of changes in the business environment, notably in the professional services landscape, and in how communication technologies are changing business relationships. However during that period, my thinking has evolved even more. Over many years of putting the ideas into practice…

…helping leading organizations to implement knowledge-based relationships, running workshops all over the world for some of the smartest people around, and speaking widely, I have learned a great deal on what works and doesn’t work. I also recognized that I needed to broaden the ambit of my work from the core concept of knowledge-based client relationships to everything that a professional firm must do to be successful in its client relationships.

The first key lesson is that even if you are brilliant at engaging in knowledge-based relationships with your clients, that doesn’t help you if your clients don’t recognize the value you can create for them through this deeper level of engagement. Professionals must lead their clients into knowledge-based relationships by demonstrating the value of collaboration. On every front, the future success of professional services firms will depend absolutely on the leadership capabilities within the firm. They must lead their clients into new ways of working, they must lead their professionals into combining their expertise collaboratively, and they must lead their industries by showing that new business models and approaches to value creation are possible and desirable. Thus the new subtitle of this book: “Leadership in Professional Services.” The subtitle of the original edition, “The Future of Professional Services,” still applies, as knowledge-based relationships are indeed the future of the professions. However the essence of this second edition is how to develop the leadership that will brings these kinds of professional relationships to reality.

One of the major shifts in the second edition is to focus far more on the immediate issues of professional services firms than on the broader issues of knowledge in business. The first edition brought many of the lessons of knowledge management into professional services and organizational relationships, in a way combining the domains. However the real value of the book is in its relevance to its core readership of practicing professionals. It is intended to help them enhance their client relationships, and build practices and firms that will prosper enormously in our burgeoning knowledge economy.

Since writing this book I have written a quite different book, Living Networks, on the implications for business of the connected economy. My work today falls into two domains. I am a specialist in professional services client relationships. And I am a generalist in helping executives understand how to create success in our swiftly-evolving global network economy. These two seemingly disparate themes in fact mesh together into a perfect unity. A networked world is nothing more than a set of relationships. In an intensely commoditized global economy, value creation will be increasingly concentrated in trusting, collaborative, knowledge-based relationships. Professional services, as the quintessential knowledge business, provides a perfect template and model for developing and implementing these kinds of relationships on a broad scale.

The changes to this second edition have resulted in a book that is almost half new material. In some ways I would have liked to have changed more, almost rewritten the entire book, however I also wanted to maintain the integrity of a book that has clearly struck a chord, and has sold consistently very well for five years. With two entirely new chapters, and half the remainder of the book heavily reworked, this second edition has truly been brought up to date and will be of great value to professional services and knowledge practitioners in a rapidly-evolving business environment. There are certainly many challenges ahead for every professional. But looking through the lens of knowledge-based relationships, I believe there are massive opportunities for those that can successfully implement deep, collaborative approaches to value-creation with their clients. I wish you all success on that path.”

Reawakening

Apologies! It has been far too long since I’ve blogged. Hardly the dynamic stuff of the living networks… I’m sure anyone who has maintained a blog will have experienced the tug between the present urgency of demands like client work, and the broader importance of capturing and communicating a rich flow of ideas. For a while now immediate pressures have kept me below the surface, making my work less visible, but I intend to rekindle my blogging endeavors. Among the very interesting work so far this year, I’ve been working with some colleagues to take the top executives of a mid-tier financial institution through a scenario planning process to examine the company’s long-term future, and working with some of the leading client relationship teams of a global top 10 law firm to enhance their capabilities and approaches. All good stuff, but I want my ideas to flow more broadly…

To this end, I will be relaunching my blog and newsletter in May, including relocating the blog. Watch this space. In the meantime I’ll start to make this more dynamic.

On other fronts, coming up this June is the launch of the second edition of my first book, Developing Knowledge Based Client Relationships. I’ll post the preface to the second edition here shortly. I have also recently established a US corporation to enable me to better serve the US market. More on other projects, including new frames on social network analysis, coming soon.