The year 2010 finds us in the final year of the first decade of the third millennium, in the western calendar at any rate. One thing is abundantly clear: the future is not what it used to be. If there ever was a time when one could rely heavily on forecasts in crafting strategy, then that time is past. Today’s leaders of law firms need to be able to simultaneously juggle three seemingly incompatible goals:
- To define and execute a strategy in order to sustain and maximize the value that the firm delivers to its owners into the future, based on the capabilities and resources that it has and that it can reasonably achieve or realize; and
- To ensure that the firm is agile, robust and resilient enough not only to withstand unexpected and unforeseen changes in the market but to capitalize upon them; and
- To deliver sufficient short-term profitability to be able to meet owner expectations and compete effectively for talent.
Never before has this been more difficult, nor the way forward so uncertain.
Dealing with Blind SpotsRobert Millard
Strategic industry and competitive analysis models rely on rational and objective behavior. They almost completely ignore the mental filters through which individuals process information. This often results in the decisions made being flawed, perhaps fatally, without the firm even knowing it.
First highlighted by Michael Porter, blind spots manifest themselves in three ways:
- The firm may be completely unaware of strategically important developments, in their market or inside the firm itself.
- The firm may interpret strategically important developments incorrectly.
- The firm may interpret the strategically important developments correctly, but too slowly to allow for a timely response.
It follows that identifying and removing blind spots is a critical skill in effective strategic decision-making.
Africa: Emerging Opportunities on the Dark ContinentRobert Millard
Less than a decade into the new century, it is silly to try to predict too much. Who could have predicted the rest of the twentieth century accurately, in 1906? Given vectors at play, though, there is little doubt that the next decade (never mind the next century) is going to move Africa to a very different place than the dismal picture associated with the continent in the twentieth century.
With this move will come increased opportunities for selling sophisticated legal services.
It is more than a decade since the end of apartheid and Africa’s most brutal civil wars. Governance structures like the Pan-African Parliament, the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD) and the African Peer Review Mechanism
(APRM) are in place and having an impact. It is true that some regional conflicts persist and certain African countries continue to occupy the bottom of global corruption perception surveys. It is equally true, though, that significant potential exists. The past five years have been a bonanza for suppliers of telecommunications equipment in Africa (especially mobile phone technology), and for financiers and service providers. Most of the investment in this area has not come from Europe and America, though, but the Middle East. There are more mobile than fixed-line phones in Africa, with growth still far exceeding developed markets.