I produced an overview of my work during the year (see http://kimtasso.com/whats-new/work-update/) but have summarised below three key reflections on the year and thus the main focus for action in 2015 for professional service firms:

1. Lead with strategy – Some have it. Many don’t. Everyone talks about it. Industries and markets are changing. There is disruption and innovation. How many firms have a really good strategy? Where there is confidence in their planned financial and cash flow management? Assurance that people, physical and technological resources will meet the businesses’ future needs? Real clarity over the markets targeted and served (segmentation seemed to be the missing link for many firms), the value delivered to clients, the services to be developed to generate tomorrow’s profits and how to integrate pricing, delivery, communications and channel strategies? How many leaders are able to articulate their strategy in a way that energises and mobilises their entire workforce – both the professionals and their support people? Checking that there is a real strategy – and stress testing it against a fast-moving reality – and not just sharing wishful ambitions or repeats of previous business plans has to be a top priority.

2. Join up business development – Digital marketing has arrived with a vengeance. Social media has become main stream. And there’s yet more change on the horizon. And with these developments come an army of new specialists and exciting technologies. But as firms race to become early adopters and lead the technology charge, things become more complex and fragmented. Senior marketers need to guide their boards and stakeholders, be connected to and listening to their existing and future clients as well as bridging the communications gap with technical specialists, sales and business development experts and those responsible for faultless service delivery. Joining up the firm-wide business development activity – and keeping it integrated – will be no mean feat.

3. Engage the people – Those firms that have managed to stay ahead of the strategy and technology race face the never-ending people challenge. They must manage constant change, acquire precious rare talent and equip their people with an ever-increasing array of new skills. Firms must learn how to take people – clients, intermediaries, associated firms, targets and their own partners and staff – along the journey with them. Overcome resistance. Maintain motivation. Reward the desires new behaviours. Engage and persuade clients. Despite all the new communications technologies, there is a need to remember that all these programmes require ongoing, meaningful and skilled communication and engagement with real people.

Wishing you all a peaceful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.

Kim Tasso