• Keith Wells

"What did you do in the war, Daddy?"

We won't have to wait for "this" to be over, for serious questions to be asked of businesses and their leaders. They're already being asked - and we'll be sharing the results of our own research study in the next few days.

In the meantime, what do we know? The last 2-3 months have exposed three Ps:

  1. Priorities. "When he speaks without thinking, he says what he thinks" time. The immediate responses shown by companies and their leaders gave so much away. Some switched into "How can we help?" mode, while others went for the "help yourselves, boys" approach. Hiking prices, laying off and abandoning staff, and trying to convince others of their right to be "essential" have betrayed what those organisations are all about. People will remember that behaviour.

  2. Point. As in "what is the point of xxx?" Some sectors are now recognised for being indispensable, and certain brands within those have risen even further. Others, of course, are facing different questions. We're now close to a real, rather than theoretical, answer to that old Workshop 'obituary' exercise: if xxx died, what would the world say about it? Consumers, clients and employees will interrogate their brands and organisations in more searching ways.

  3. Purpose. This is really going to be exposed. We suspect most 'purpose statements' have not been at all relevant as an aid through this period. And that's because most purpose statements are not much more than tag lines with a bit of hand-wringing angst. Any business that has truly worked out its role and contribution to the world, and linked it tightly to what it actually does every day, should be in a good position to come through this period well. Others will find that their tagline isn't worth the paper it's not written on.

We believe this crisis has raised questions about Professional Services firms, and particularly the legal sector, of a truly existential nature. What exactly is the point of a law firm (especially at a time like this)? How did/could/should a firm contribute to the world's response to this pandemic? What value did it bring, and how did it show that the world benefits from its presence?

All organisations are going to be under scrutiny like never before, and they need to have proper answers to those questions.

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