Business as Unusual: Repositioning your Firm
In the course of operating any business, there are times when market circumstances demand a response. An obvious example is the sea change that technology brought to the AEC industries; when was the last time you honed a fine point on a 2mm Staedtler and tightened the tension on your parallel bar?
Other shifts are not so all-encompassing, and are more organic in nature. A change in firm leadership, a merger, or an acquisition—these are typically planned transitions, which are managed in a structured, methodical process.
There’s another category of change, one that occurs in exceptional times of radical uncertainty, such as the one we’re currently facing. In these cases, a realignment or redefinition of business practices is not only acceptable, but often expected.
A clear-eyed look at your firm can start this important conversation. Begin by evaluating your recent activities in relation to your short-term and long-term business goals; assessing how the firm’s resources have been utilized to pursue certain types of business; and if or why those efforts have excelled or fallen short of expectations. Then look outward—at your competition, your targets, your clients—and think about the kind of projects you want to have, the type of clients you want to work with, where you want to work and, ultimately, what success looks like to your firm and culture. Viewing this through the lens of your clients is key, as it will help you align your strengths with their objectives.
Don’t pressure yourself by trying to resolve these issues in a couple of afternoon meetings. These are intensive topics, and you may want to invite a professional facilitator to guide the discussions, analyze the findings, and prepare recommendations and summary statements.
Remember: repositioning your practice isn’t a compromise; it’s a refinement. Adapting to the new opportunities may entail a mix of painful and empowering decisions, but taking considered action in a timely fashion prepares your firm to achieve your re-envisioned goals and deliver better outcomes to your clients that fulfill their needs and aspirations.