Thoughts on ways to improve the management of professional services firms

Monday, September 17, 2007

Personal musings - cross-fertilisation within the professions

We all write through a prism set by our experience. I certainly do.

I was reflecting on this recently, reflections triggered by the need to update my CV. Looking back, I can see how my writing has changed over time as my work focus has changed.

This blog has quite a strong focus on the legal profession. Yet I did not complete my first assignment in the legal sector until 2001.

I began my professional career as an Australian Government public servant, working as a professional economist and policy adviser. That was one perspective.

Then I moved to the private sector to develop a practice providing consulting, training and information services with a special focus on the electronics, aerospace and information industries. A second perspective.

After a period as an independent consultant, I spent two years as CEO of a specialist medical college responsible, among other things, for the training of eye care specialists in Australia and New Zealand. A third perspective.

Then I ran a network of independent professional services firms. As part of this, I resumed my role as a strategic consultant with a special focus on the professional services arena. A fourth perspective.

Each area that I have worked in has had its own unique focus. This has affected my own writing and thinking in terms of topic and approach. Yet, looking back, the thing that stands out is the commonalities between areas.

Yes, there are often profound differences. The team and project based focus that you find in some areas is very different from, say, the individuality of practice in law or medicine. Despite this, there are still enormous commonalities.

In theory, this combination of common and different should provide a powerful base for cross-fertilisation. In practice, this is rarely achieved because of the powerful silo effects created by professional divides.

I am still struggling at a professional level to find the best way to overcome this. Sometimes I think that I am making progress, at other times I think that I am as far away from success as ever.

Despite these problems, I still think that the effort is worthwhile.

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