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A ‘Professional Services’ Christmas Carol

—21 December 2017
—A unique sector update by The Openside Group

An allegorical tale by The Openside Group on the current state of the professional services sector with our predictions and actions for years yet to come…

It is around this time every year that Firms, including us (The Openside Group), usually publish their ‘state of the union’ thought-pieces with their perspectives on the industry along with their predictions for the year to come.

Taking a lead from Seth Godin, this year we have decided to try something a little bit different, perhaps even a bit remarkable.

We have decided to publish our reflections on the state of the professional services industry, our predictions for the coming year and actions for professional services leaders in the form of a parody of the well-known allegorical story – A Christmas Carol.

We realise this style won’t be for everyone but we hope that for those who do read it, our story provides a different way of looking at the professional services sector that ultimately challenges the status quo in your Firm and leads to real behaviour change.

Our story is based on conversations we have had with clients in the past year, latest research and other expert commentary on professional services. You can find these references at the end of the story.

Clearly our story exaggerates for effect and our characters and Firm are entirely fictional!

However, the themes covered in our story are very real issues facing professional services Firms – billable hours, utilisation targets, disruption, technological change, client needs and expectations, workplace culture, younger generations, flexible working, artificial intelligence, professional development, rethinking client value – and will play a vital role in shaping the future of the sector.

Our ‘Professional Services’ Christmas Carol is broken into five distinct ‘staves’ or chapters:

Stave One: The Chairman’s Ghost – We introduce our story’s chief protagonist and the Firm’s Managing Partner, Scrooge. We learn about the culture of his professional services Firm and meet our story’s long-suffering antagonists: The Junior Associate, The Client and the Practice Manager.

Stave Two: The Ghost of Christmas Past – Our Managing Partner ‘Scrooge’ revisits his junior years and reflects on how hard it was for him in the traditional professional services culture. Readers should reflect on whether a traditional professional services culture and the focus on ‘making Partner’ is still compatible with younger generations in their Firm?

Stave Three: The Ghost of Christmas Present – Taking the client’s perspective, we look at the key issues at the forefront of their minds when working with a professional services firm. We further examine the prevailing culture of firms and the effect this might have on junior employees and we highlight some of the issues firms must face up to regarding technological change in the years to come.

Stave Four: The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come – We hypothesise about what will happen to professional services firms who choose not to innovate, not to recognise the changing needs of their clients and staff members and refuse to revisit their traditional working practices.

Stave Five: The End of It – We highlight a list of actions for professional services leaders to consider for the coming years. Our actions are grouped into three main themes: Internal strategy (technology and AI), changing client needs and professional services workplace culture.

Our story begins on a cold Christmas Eve in the offices of Scrooge and Marley, a traditional professional services Firm that has been found in the heart of The City…

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