At the law firm conference panel discussion I facilitated in January, I asked two questions of the senior level attendees. One of the questions was, "What is the most difficult barrier you face in leading autonomous professionals to accept forward-thinking marketing and business development changes?"
I blogged about the conference attendees' responses here, but I also asked this question to the blogosphere. With only a few respondents, here's what you said:
General resistance to change: 33.3%
My function is marginalized (i.e., viewed with skepticism): 0%
An atmosphere of short-term thinking: 33.3%
Unrealistic expectations for what can be done: 33.3%
Respondents told me they wished they could have chosen all four barriers! One especially pointed remarked was, "The real barrier is lack of commitment/courage on our part to do what needs to be done. I believe that we need to lead the charge to create change in PSFs, unless we want to be marginalized."
I happen to agree with this viewpoint. Most revenue-generating practitioners have deep credentials in their own professional area, whether it be accounting, management consulting, engineering or any other recognized profession. And, while it makes sense for marketing and business development leaders to push them to make forward-thinking changes, I think revenue-generating professionals also bear the responsibility for self-initiation.
The bottom line is this: in order to gain meaningful market share, grow the "right" revenues, and substantively improve a firm's value proposition for clients, someone's got to lead the charge, but it's everyone's job to become more effective. And they'll have to work together.
This is the main theme of my upcoming book, The Integration Imperative: Erasing Marketing Business Development Silos — Once and for All — in Professional Service Firms(Professional Services Books, 2009).