Nothing New Under the Sun
I was doing some tidying up of my (computer) files over the weekend and came across this.
It’s the slide I prepared over 20 years ago to give speeches about what was happening in professional businesses.
Isn’t it astounding how much is still the same?
MAJOR STRUCTURAL TRENDS IN THE PROFESSIONS
- Short service/product life cycles – constant need to innovate
- More client demand for specific industry expertise
- More “packaged” service products
- Global marketplace
- Fee pressure on “mature” services
- Merger activity-client base
- Continued demand for high specialization
- Increasing client demand for counseling work (more “front room” / “advisory”)
- Fuzzing of boundaries between professions
- More complex client organizations
- Client use of microcomputer technology
- Merger activity-professional firms
- Client skepticism about value of services
- Rising competition for junior staff
- Competition for staff from other professions/industries (change in perceived “glamour”)
- More hiring of senior (lateral hire) staff
- Computer technology changing work tasks (and hence leverage ratios and organizational structure)
- Rising proportion of women in profession
- Cultural shift in work-ethic among juniors
- Greater diversity of skill backgrounds in staff
- Greater mobility of skilled staff
- Increasing ability of paraprofessionals to perform junior professional tasks
- Rising diversification of services inside firms need to manage different businesses differently
- Internal coordination of specialists required
- More investment in technology, r&d, mktg.
- Rising fixed costs in the practice
- Rising internal training needs
- More internal formal structuring
- Greater need for market intelligence on client needs
- Effect of changing environment on senior professionals
- Effects of rising firm size on culture, communications
By presenting all this, I don’t mean to pretend that I was especially prescient. My whole point is that anyone at that time would have readily agreed that these were the major trends.
But who would have predicted that we’d still be talking about many (most?) of them 20 years later.
Here’s the question for all of you out there:
What does it MEAN that the list of trends 20 years ago is still so current?
Does it mean that we’ve learned or solved nothing?
Does it mean that there really are no new business issues?
Does it mean I stopped paying attention 20 years ago?