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jerryking : bruce_macewen   23

“Entrepreneurial?” Really? | Adam Smith, Esq.
November 7, 2013
Can one really, seriously, be an entrepreneur when an income from several hundred thousand dollars year to up or to way way up, generated by the powerful machinery of the firm one is a partner in, is essentially assured? When one is not remotely putting one’s future livelihood, even for a year or two, on the line? When any personal capital invested will be returned quite promptly and in full, if you bail out? When a painless exit strategy (we’re all elevator assets, remember) is a few phone calls away? When the last Big New Thing that was invented in your chosen industry was the Cravath System ca. 1900—and you’re not dreaming of the 21st Century version 2.0 of the Cravath System in any event? When the number of employees relying on your perspicacity and market savvy for their livelihood is, well, precisely zero?

Or we could approach this from the psychological dimension.

Entrepreneurs are:
* Risk-tropic
Creative
Intuitive
Trusting
Big thinkers, and
Extremely resilient.

Lawyers are:
Risk-averse
Conventional
Judgmental
Skeptical
Detail-oriented, and
Over two standard deviations below the population norm on resilience.
law_firms  entrepreneurship  Bruce_MacEwen  risk-aversion 
december 2013 by jerryking
The Power of Asking | Adam Smith, Esq.
December 3, 2013

Today we have a column by my partner in Adam Smith, Esq., Janet Stanton.
questions  IDEO  Bruce_MacEwen 
december 2013 by jerryking
Checked your demographics lately?
August 30, 2013 | Adam Smith, Esq.| Bruce MacEwen.

So, to all the non-equity partners in the crowd, this is not about you. Rather, what follows is written from the perspective of someone who thinks a lot about the industry’s long run.

One of the strongest indices of organizations’ competitive strength over time is the ability to align and renew itself faster than rivals. As Scott Keller and Colin Price wrote in Beyond Performance: How Great Organizations Build Ultimate Competitive Advantage (Wiley, 2011):

Organizational health is about adapting to the present and shaping the future faster and better than the competition. Healthy organizations don’t merely learn to adjust themselves to their current context or to challenges that lie just ahead; they create a capacity to learn and keep changing over time. This, we believe, is where ultimate competitive advantage lies.

This is about, in a word, people.

We know talent matters, we pay through the nose roof for headhunters to deliver lateral upon lateral, the statistical majority of whom will disappoint, we recruit the “best and the brightest” from law school (the statistical majority of whom, etc.), and yet when it’s time for our organizations to be agile and responsive to changing client expectations and market conditions, we find ourselves throttled. How can this be?

Change—real not superficial, meaningful not trivial, lasting not flavor-of-the-month—requires people to go above and beyond. [JCK: high achieving or overachievers] It’s not comfortable, and comfortable people won’t do it. This is where, I believe, the performance hazard of too many non-equity partners in a firm begins to come in.
law_firms  Bruce_MacEwen  workforce  workforce_planning  high-achieving  overachievers  partnerships  change  organizational_effectiveness  organizational_learning  adaptability  learning_agility  books  disappointment  discomforts  competitive_advantage  talent  complacency  the_best_and_brightest 
september 2013 by jerryking
Dewey’s Collapse Underscores a New Reality for Law Firms - Common Sense - NYTimes.com
May 4, 2012 | NYT | By JAMES B. STEWART. “This absolutely falls into the category: What were they thinking?” Bruce MacEwen, a lawyer and president of Adam Smith Esq. and an expert on law firm economics, told me this week, as Dewey suffered a new wave of partner defections and the firm’s accelerating collapse appeared unstoppable. “This was
Mismanagement 101 across the board. They had a ringside seat for the collapse of Lehman and Bear Stearns. But they had the same mismatch of assets and liabilities. They took on a massive amount of long-term debt, but their assets are short term: they walk out of the firm every day and may not come back, which is what more and more of them did.”....Mr. MacEwen was inclined to agree. “I’ve been struggling with the degree to which Dewey is a lesson for other firms,” he said. “Everything they did was so extreme and so ill advised. But part of me has to admit that the dynamics of the practice, the eat-what-you-kill remuneration model, makes a law firm inherently fragile. And part of the lesson of Dewey is that if you put practices in place, like the guarantees, that corrode culture, then you’re playing with fire.”
Bruce_MacEwen  cultural_corrosion  dissolutions  eat_what_you_kill  fragility  law_firms  lessons_learned  mismanagement  organizational_culture  professional_service_firms 
may 2012 by jerryking
"Structural Breaks" and Other Timely Phenomena -
December 12, 2008 |Adam Smith, Esq.|Bruce MacEwen.

Finally, some words about strategy in the midst of a structural dislocation. Times like these—especially times like these—call for coherent responses on behalf of your firm to the challenges out there in the marketplace. This, rather than any tepid or hypocritical "mission statement" or allegedly scientific market segmentation analysis that will be overtaken by events before it can be bound and distributed,, is the type of strategy that actually has traction today.

And the essence of such a strategy is a thoughtful and reflective view on the marketplace forces at work, and how they'll affect your firm, your talent pipeline, your geographic centers of gravity, and your client base. To produce a coherent, nuanced, and dynamic view of what's happening, there's no substitute for the hard work of thinking about this multi-dimensional chessboard, with almost daily midcourse corrections based on new data points and new conversations, essentially incoming at you all the time.
Bruce_MacEwen  McKinsey  financial_history  simplicity  ratios  strategic_thinking  talent_pipelines  structural_change  howto  customers  Five_Forces_model  competitive_landscape  situational_awareness  course_correction  disequilibriums  accelerated_lifecycles  dislocations  hard_work  dynamic 
november 2011 by jerryking
You Can Ignore 5 of These Trends: But Only 5 - Adam Smith, Esq.
24 August, 2010 | Adam Smith .
* Trend 1: Distributed cocreation moves into the mainstream
* Trend 2: Making the network the organization
* Trend 3: Collaboration at scale (jk: economies_of_scale)
* Trend 4: The growing 'Internet of Things'
* Trend 5: Experimentation an big data
* Trend 6: Wiring for a sustainable world
* Trend 7: Imagining anything as a service
* Trend 8: The age of the multisided business model
* Trend 9: Innovating from the bottom of the pyramid
* Trend 10: Producing public good on the grid
trends  McKinsey  Bruce_MacEwen  economies_of_scale  public_goods  Industrial_Internet  massive_data_sets  experimentation  Bottom_of_the_Pyramid 
august 2010 by jerryking
"A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Law" by Mark Herrmann - Adam Smith, Esq.
September 22, 2006 | Adam Smith, Esq. | by Bruce MacEwen. (1)
"How to Fail as an Associate," : there is no such thing as a "draft."
Your clients/colleagues need answers. Someone has to figure out the
answer. Someone has to take responsibility for the answer. *
"Write in short sentences. If a sentence runs on for more than three
and a half typed lines, break the sentence in half. Make it two
sentences."
* "Start each paragraph with a topic sentence. This is important.
Few people do it. You will do it. If you don't know what a topic
sentence is, look it up. Now."
Bruce_MacEwen  book_reviews  lawyers  howto  writing  professional_education  topic_sentences 
june 2010 by jerryking
The Digitalization of the World - Adam Smith, Esq.
11 January, 2010 | Adam Smith, Esq. | post by Bruce MacEwen.
"Education, as a role for us, should I hope be obvious. We educate our
clients, " and "We don't just rent this knowledge out to our clients, we
should impart it so it becomes their own.
Financial/medical advisers are people to whom we entrust (one hopes) our
every secret, hope, and fear. We should serve the same function. ... We
should be able to provide them with various roadmap's, decision trees,
alternative ways of pursuing their objectives, with lesser and greater
ratios of return and reward. Hands-on personal care? Yes, because there
is no substitute for being there. The more amazing technology and
collaboration-at-a-distance becomes (what the Web, ultimately, is all
about), the more important face to face personal meetings are. The more
people you know "virtually," the more you want to meet them in person."
Bruce_MacEwen  JCK  client_management  inequality_of_information  trustworthiness  knowledge_intensive  management_consulting  indispensable  professional_education  digital_life  teaching  decision_trees  ratios  roadmaps  risk-assessment  strategic_thinking  risks  face2face  personal_meetings  personal_touch  generating_strategic_options  client_development  expertise  digitalization 
january 2010 by jerryking
The "Warning" Czar?
Oct. 17, 2009 | - Adam Smith, Esq.| by Bruce MacEwen. The US
has a "national intelligence official for warning", Kenneth Knight, who
oversees a staff of a half-dozen analysts whose job is to monitor the
rest of the intelligence community, challenging their analyses and
assumptions. The goal is to to avoid surprise. One of Knight's core
insights is the difference between what he calls the "simple
likelihood-of-the-event versus impact-of-the-event calculation." Knight
thinks you can systematize this type of analysis by being understand
and being beware of the cognitive biases of experts; by training; and by
creating an institutional check--a warning staff or Red Team. Beware
analytical frameworks--know their limitations.
Bruce_MacEwen  strategic_thinking  security_&_intelligence  systematic_approaches  contrarians  risk-management  counterintuitive  red_teams  anticipating  biases  surprises  warning_signs  devil’s_advocates  frequency_and_severity  intelligence_analysts 
october 2009 by jerryking
What I'm Reading - Adam Smith, Esq.
July, 2009 | Adam Smith | blog post by Bruce MacEwen. Update to previous lists.
reading  booklists  Bruce_MacEwen 
august 2009 by jerryking
Succession Planning Is Over-Rated
November 5, 2007 blog post in Adam Smith on

Few individuals are likely to possess all the characteristics sought by
Wall Street institutions or law firms.

As for what matters most, I defer to Dennis Weatherstone, former
chairman of J.P. Morgan, who is given the last word in the Journal
article: Granted, he says, "the number of candidates for these
positions is somewhat limited" and experience is "always valuable." But
he sees the key in something else: It's more important, he avers, to
find a CEO who can "anticipate change." And maybe the one best able to
anticipate change is one who has less of a vested interest in the status
quo. Just a thought.
succession  talent_management  leadership  law_firms  anticipating  CEOs  Bruce_MacEwen  status_quo  experience  industry_expertise  change  overrated  what_really_matters 
april 2009 by jerryking
If You're So Smart, Why Aren't You Rich?
December 27, 2008| Adam Smith, Esq.: An inquiry into the
economics of law firms....| Blog post by Bruce MacEwen
# What are the unspoken assumptions behind this piece?;
# If what the author is saying is correct, what happens next?;
# Does this align with most things we read in the past few months or is
it squarely at odds with the consensus--and then who's right?;
# What are the author's presumed biases, predilections, and
hobbyhorses?; and
# Last and most important--but hardest!--of all, does it spark any new
ideas in your mind? What have you been taking for granted that might be
due for a challenge or an update or a revisionist note?
innovation  lawyers  critical_thinking  Bruce_MacEwen  strategic_thinking  assumptions  smart_people  biases  predilections  questions  aftermath  latent  hidden  insights  ideas  next_play 
march 2009 by jerryking
Critical Thinking II
January 17, 2009 |Adam Smith, Esq.: An inquiry into the economics of law firms....| Bruce MacEwen,
HBS  lawyers  critical_thinking  Bruce_MacEwen 
march 2009 by jerryking
What I'm Reading
March 23, 2009 | Adam Smith, Esq.: An inquiry into the economics of law firms....| Blog post by Bruce MacEwen.
books  lawyers  reading  Bruce_MacEwen 
march 2009 by jerryking

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