The past several years have seen a remarkable rise in demand for pricing and project management professionals at law firms. Consultants, businesses and entire conferences, such as The Legal Marketing Association’s P3, have evolved to tackle the challenges evoked by increased rate pressure and client demand for efficiencies. For some firms approaching the concept of efficient service delivery holistically, the results can be impressive. Yet for others the improvements are isolated, limited or nonexistent—phenomenal in one practice and dismal in another. Conventional wisdom cites the billable hour or lawyers’ inherent reluctance to change as the primary obstacles. But what if the proposed solution—the need for systematic project management and process improvement—is simply solving a misdiagnosed problem?
In an article in the January/February issue of Harvard Business Review titled, “Are We Solving the Right Problem,” innovation researcher Thomas Wedell-Wedellsborg explores how reframing problems can help organizations achieve the best possible solution. Wedell-Wedellsborg points out professionals, when posed with a challenge, devote the bulk of their time and energy to devising solutions. Leaders consider various courses of action, debate the relative merits and drawbacks of each and venture forth. Yet the identified problem frequently belies one or more root problem. It is these root problems that, if not explored and defined, can at best lead to a less effective or costlier solution and, at worst, give rise to a solution that has no impact whatsoever on the original challenge.
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