Thoughts on ways to improve the management of professional services firms

Friday, July 17, 2009

Leader vs manager – reflections on Hitler as this blog turns three

I have been reading Mark Mazower's Hitler's Empire: Nazi rule in occupied Europe (Penguin Books, London 2009). It is quite a gripping if also depressing book.

Mazower focuses on the way Nazi Germany administered the large European empire it acquired so quickly and then lost. There is no doubt that Hitler was a great leader. He was able first to place his stamp on a nation and then lead that nation into a huge and initially successful war. He failed, something for which we can all be thankful, because he was such a bad manager.

I do not think that Hitler would have claimed to be a manager. In fact, he would have dismissed the concept. He was simply the leader. Management was the responsibility of others.

The problem is that Hitler’s own leadership approach made effective management impossible.

The Germans were very good at managing particular things, Adolf Eichman and the death camps are an example, yet the overall Nazi empire was run in an increasingly ramshackle fashion. Even those things that were effective had unforseen side effects.

Hitler’s difficulty, although he did not see things in these terms, is that he was the leader. Power was increasingly centralised in his hands. The German system dissolved into a series of satrapies each competing for the leader’s attention.

Reading the detail in Mazower left me with the very strong feeling that Nazi Germany could easily have won the Second World War or, at least, worked to a peace that preserved their core gains. The leadership that drew them into the war and gave them initial gains condemned them in the end.

Leadership versus management, that’s the rub.

When I started this blog all that time ago in July 2006, I called it managing, not leading, the professional services firm. I used the word managing deliberately, because it reflected my view that management in professional services was not very good.

In my first post on 2 July 2006 I said:

This blog has been created to encourage debate about and to provide information relevant too the management of all professional services firms.

With time, I hope that it will develop into a valuable resource.

I am not sure that I have achieved the second. However, I remain convinced that improved management in professional services is critical.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Problems with English in drafting

Recently I was preparing a funding agreement. Essentially a scissors and paste of previous documents to provide a base that could then be supplied to the lawyers for review.

In doing so, I found a major problem with language and in particular the difference between English usage in the US and the rest of the English speaking world. I found that I had to go through on a line by line basis to ensure consistency.

I mention this because in a A Licence to Spell the LexPublica blog had an interesting post on the same topic from a Canadian perspective.    

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

New statistics on Australia's legal services' sector

Short note to say that the Australian Bureau of Statistics released a new publication, Legal Services Australia 2007-2008.  It has been quite some time since we have had statistics on legal services, and unfortunately the new release is not directly comparable with the previous one. Still, there is some interesting data.