The power of the ‘Burning Platform’

By Alex Shacklock
Director

A few years ago, we spoke to a managing partner of a firm who had an exciting (and in our view, realistic) change agenda. In his view, the firm had fallen into a groove and needed to flex its focus and strategy.

“If you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading.” Lao Tzu

The problem at the time though, was that he was unable to convince the partners and the management group that change was needed. Things were (and are still) very good financially and the business model was stable. He turned to us for help to find that CATALYST for change.

We created a series of ideas that would create a ‘burning platform’ to drive action.

Invent a crisis

Key Performance Indicators and financial results may well be in line with expectations, but are budgets? What if the goalposts were moved? What if targets were set so high that they could not be reached by conducting business as usual?

Focus on the negatives

Survey the ‘worst’ clients, take the most damning exit interview feedback and share the lowest scores in engagement surveys.  This approach offers moments of horrified recognition, but also potential quick wins!

Break the happy talk

Ensure that firm communications are balanced with honest messages about ‘areas for improvement’ alongside the celebratory stuff.

Paint a bigger picture

Bombard your people with information about current and future opportunities, emerging markets and anticipated future changes.

Find people with loud voices

Often the message is so much stronger and clearer when delivered by external ‘experts’.

Current crisis or burning platform

Fast-forward to a few weeks ago, and the Managing Partner reconnected with us. He was delighted (and frustrated) that strategic change was now a priority. Because the marketplace has provided a threat to every firm in terms of recruitment that provides a clear catalyst to drive action.

“We are struggling big time to recruit. We need to do more to retain our talent. We have to develop a more compelling case for people to choose to work for us.”

We are finding many firms reaching out with a similar cry for help, looking to develop a clear purpose, and vision and realign the values to create a strategic core – the essence of the firm.

Others are looking for help to create a defined people strategy to support the strategic plan, looking at succession, developing career maps, and supporting the growth of their people with an investment in learning and development.

Others are looking at their operational model, the tech-stack and other resourcing options to ensure they are able to deliver great service to clients.

The thing we are seeing is that firms are serious about it. There may have been light touch efforts in the past, or things done as a box-tick, but the catalyst created by the resource challenge is driving action.

The power of the burning platform!

Please get in touch if you would like to chat about how we can help you identify challenges, and what we can do to help you drive improved performance, well-being, connection and engagement in your firm.