The Shoemaker’s Children
Accoring to the old proverb, the shoemakers’ children always go without shoes.
Accounting firms fail to have effective job-costing systems to track the use of their resources, law firm partnerships do not have up-to-date partnership agreements, management consultants keep appointing people to managerial roles who cannot manage and don’t want to. And of course, Advertising and PR people are really bad about creating favorouble public impressions about their agencies and their professions.
So why is this so common? The most common hypothesis is that professional providers get paid to apply their skills to client work, and they are unpaid when they have to apply them to their own affairs – and the individuals would always prefer to do paid work!
But I suspect something more profound is going on. I’m not sure what it is, and would love input from the readers out there.
There are times when I get the impression that professionals are only too well aware of the limitations of what their craft can actually accoplish, and they sell to clients things they actually don’t think would be benficial for themselves – or at least they would not be willing to do themselves.
In part it’s because of a belief that “we’re different from our clients”, but it’s also in some way a hidden skepticism about the value of their own services.
Why don’t advertsing agencies advertise? Other business-to-business services like Accenture do – what does Y&R know that Accenture does not? (Or vice-versa?)
Most large management consulting firms reject the concept that their group leaders should spend their time managing, instead preferring them to be big business getters. But that’s not the advice they give their clients.
Business School academics are always preaching the need for buisnesses to be client-centric and responsive to markets, but how many actually redesign what they do around the needs of their students or employers? Universities are designed to meet the needs of the providers (the faculty) not their markets.
If any of this is true (and fair), then why does it happen? Why is it so easy to see the fleck of dust in the other person’s eye, while ignoring the plank in our own?