July 5, 2006
New York City
rodrigo gonzalez fernandez
June on "Adam Smith, Esq." seemed to feature—unintentionally, I might add—an emphasis on both strategy and leadership.
Actually, strike the "unintentional" part. My focus is strategy and leadership, along with all of the moving parts they entail: Finance, IT, marketing, cultural considerations, partnership structures, compensation, globalization, and M&A. So perhaps it was not accidental after all.
Continuing with my commitment to bring subscribers to the "Adam Smith, Esq." newsletter original content which has not been and will not be published on the site, you will find at the end of this edition a link to a piece recounting a conversation I had in London with Tony Williams, former global managing partner of Clifford Chance, subsequently global managing partner of Andersen Legal (when it was, briefly, the ninth largest law firm in the world by revenue), and now head of his own City-based consultancy, Jomati.
As a result of that conversation, I would like to think Tony is a friend, and he is nothing if not a provocative and sometimes contrarian thinker about where our beloved industry is heading.
So, without further preliminaries, to this past month's "greatest hits:"
- In "Strategy Formulation in an Unknowable Universe," I discuss how to liberate your strategic planning process from the annual creation of turgid 3-ring binders symbolically stamped "file and forget" to a living, breathing, invigorating reality at your firm. Hint: Try lots of little bets, not a few big ones.
- In "Great Managers Fail," I recur to the wisdom of the medieval apprenticeship system, and what lessons it might hold for our current career-track-challenged environment.
- "Making Decisions like an Associate...?" cites new Harvard Business School findings on how a leader's decision-making style needs to evolve over the course of one's career—in fact, how it must "do a complete flip."
- I borrow from the wise observations of my friend Rich Gary (former chair, Thelen-Reid) in "A Pop Quiz for your CMO," where the moral is that managing partners get the C-level executives they deserve.
- The all-important issue of associate dissatisfaction and even alienation from the traditional Cravath Model career track gets double billing in "How Many Hours Would Elihu Root Bill?" and in "'Is This Model Sustainable...'", where David Childs, newly elected managing partner of Clifford Chance, poses precisely that question. The inimitable David Maister also seems to having some of the same thoughts, and he alludes to me and takes them for his own brilliant wild ride.
Finally, to the synopsis of my conversation with Tony Williams. Please click here to read Tony's wonderfully humane, but challenging, thoughts on the sea changes affecting our profession, the US/UK divide (and whether any US firm is really making money in London), and the truly differentiating value of leadership at the start of the 21st Century. Lest you be tempted to skip over Tony's thoughts, let me tempt you with this brief excerpt:
Bruce: "What do you say to those who feel that running a firm like a business is unprofessional?"
Tony: "Arrant Nonsense! Arrant Nonsense!"
As always, I invite thoughts, comments, and observations.
That wraps up the "Adam Smith, Esq." monthly newsletter for July 2006.
My parting wish for you all is that: (a) you share this with friends and colleagues who might find it of at least incidental interest; and (b) of far greater importance, that you let me know how I can make it sharper, more useful, more helpful.