Disruptive innovation in professional services: the value in expertise

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The concept of disruptive innovation is now well-recognized in business. It was originally described by Clayton Christensen almost exclusively in terms of products – often technology-based – such as storage devices.

Disruptive innovation can happen in any industry, however it can need translation and interpretation for other domains such as services.

I recently I ran a presentation and interactive workshop on the future of professional services to kick off a law firm partner strategy offsite. Among the more specific challenges, opportunities, and responses that the professions face, I ran through some of the core principles that could disrupt their industry.

In fact a broad range of expertise-based industries are being subject to disruption, however with quite different dynamics than in product industries. The 3 key drivers of disruption of expertise are remote work, process automation, and artificial intelligence.

Four expertise-based services industries that are being disrupted are:
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Axiom Legal and the rise of virtual professional services

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Back since the 1990s I have tracked the rise of virtual and distributed professional services models. They have progressed somewhat more slowly than I anticipated, but the trend is clear. Large professional firms are not in jeopardy, but significant and profitable aspects of their business are being eroded.

One of the great examples is Axiom Legal, which I first wrote about in 2002 in Living Networks:
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MegaTrends and the future of professional services – Melbourne and Sydney

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Next week I will be giving the first in the First Mover series of seminars for professional services leaders organized by Beaton Research & Consulting.

See here for the seminar series overview or the brochure for full details.

The seminars will be held in Melbourne on 25 July and Sydney on 26 July, with a live webinar option also available.

For quite a few years much of my work was with professional service firms, and while I have spent more time in other sectors recently, I still see the professional services model (in an evolved form) as central to the future of the global economy.
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Transforming clients and executives: How to enrich their mental models

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When I wrote my first book, Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, which came out in 2000 in its first edition, I thought of it in many ways as a stepping stone for me to gain credibility and move on to deal with broader issues. Yet still today the themes of the book are immensely relevant to my work.

As a futurist the greatest value I can create is in helping people to think more broadly, to be more open and responsive to trends, issues, and possibilities that they have not yet fully considered. As I often say, my definition of a futurist is someone who helps people to think usefully about the future, so they act more effectively in the present.

It is in fact the same for every professional. Performing services for clients can only have a fraction of the value of actually changing the client, to help them think more usefully and make better decisions.

Chapter 4 of Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships is titled Adding Value to Client Decision-Making: Better Strategic, Line, and Portfolio Decisions. Below are some brief excepts on the theme of adding value to mental models, which is at the heart of tranforming clients.
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V&S acquired by Havas: A pivotal moment for crowdsourcing in advertising

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The purchase by Havas of a majority stake in crowdsourced ad agency Victors & Spoils is a sign of a major shift in the advertising industry.

I have written several times before about crowdsourced advertising agency Victors & Spoils. V&S Founder and CEO John Winsor spoke at our Future of Crowdsourcing Summit, and I have since written about some of their lead work with Harley-Davidson and where they have taken that.

The big news today is that global advertising conglomerate Havas has taken a majority stake in V&S, also naming John Winsor as Chief Innovation Officer for the group.
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Value based pricing is at the heart of the future of professional services

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In my first book Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships: The Future of Professional Services the final chapter was titled Value-Based Pricing: Implementing New Revenue Models. Pricing by value rather than time is clearly a central aspect to building true knowledge-based relationships, since knowledge should be measured by the value of its application rather than time spent by professionals.

The chapter in my book provides a fair overview of the key possibilities and factors in value-based pricing. However I am not a deep expert in the field. When discussing the issue with clients, I usually refer to Ron Baker, who among other claims to fame has written books including Pricing on Purpose, Professionals Guide to Value Pricing, and one I’ve long had on my bookself, The Firm of the Future.

Ron is currently in Australia running a series of workshops on The Firm of the Future, and he kindly invited me to join his masterclass session in Sydney this morning.
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Workshop slides: Creating the Future of Professional Services

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I am about to hop on a plane to Hawaii, where I will be running the ‘keynote workshop’ on Creating the Future of Professional Services for global accounting network DFK International’s annual North America conference on Maui. While it’s pretty crazy, I will only be there for as long as I spend travelling to Hawaii and back. I just have too much on now, including a lot of other client work and finishing a book very soon. In any case I intend to enjoy my brief sojourn in the sun :-).

As usual I will share my slides, mainly for workshop participants, since the slides are not intended to be used as a stand-alone, but also for anyone else who happens to find value in them.

The original idea was for me to do a keynote, but we soon developed the idea to be a half-day highly participatory session that will go into detail on pressing practical and strategic issues. There are five sections to the workshop, each with a presentation supported by the slides below, and then activities including discussions, case studies, exercises, strategy frameworks, and action plans, which are described in detailed handouts for all participants. The five sections are:
* Driving Forces
* High-Value Client Relationships
* Power of Networks
* Levers of Success
* Leadership

Here are the slides:

Keynote slides: The Power of Social Media and Future Organizations

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This morning I am giving the external keynote at a closed conference for senior client executives run by a major professional services firm. They know the technical content they are presenting is rather dry so my role is to provide a highly engaging kick-off to the day (spouses are invited too) which is also practical and useful for attendees.

As is quite often the case these days, my client asked me to combine two of the topics from my general list of speaking topics, bringing together the ideas from The Power of Social Media and The Future of Work and Organizations. In fact every presentation I do is customized for the specific context and audience, including many topics not on the list, but it can be useful for clients to use the general speaking topic list to work out what they are looking for.

Here are the slides to my keynote. The usual disclaimer: the slides are designed to accompany my presentation and not to be viewed by themselves, but you still might find them interesting.

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Revisiting the future of PR

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For many reasons PR (or perhaps rather what PR could be) is close to the center of my interests. As we shift to a world driven by social media and influence networks, arguably the PR industry has the best background and capabilities to help organizations deal with the new challenges and opportunities that are emerging.

Yet the PR industry has not markedly prospered relative to adjacent industries, which have muscled in on the new work generated in a rapidly changing landscape. ‘Public relationships’, if we take the term literally, dominate the agenda, yet PR is not dominating the discussion.

I recently recalled that I wrote the article Six Facets of the Future of PR well over 5 years ago now. It’s nice to see that it is still the #1 result on a Google search for ‘future of PR’.

As a good article about the future should be, it is still entirely relevant today. I thought it would be worth revisiting a few of the points I made, as they probably bear repeating.

Six Facets of the Future of PR

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Futurist conversation: Ross Dawson and Gerd Leonhard on the role of a futurist

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Continuing our series of conversations with Gerd Leonhard of The Futures Agency, and myself, here is the one we kicked off with: what is the role of a futurist?

Here are a few of the topics we discuss:
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