A firm of criminal lawyers had to bid in a competitive environment for a legal services procurement contract. They had never had to see themselves as a 'business' before, having always been provided with work as part of existing procurement processes. The firm had to bid for work on the basis of commercial strengths. They had to put into place a Plan B in case their bid was unsuccessful.
The firm, and more particularly its owners, developed a business which, in time, would minimise the risk of not winning bids in future, maximise the opportunies from other procurers of legal services, and set themselves up as a sustainable organisation not just financially but also in terms of markets for services, well-skilled people and operationally efficient systems.
The process was informal in terms of identifying the strengths and weaknesses of the owner and staff, and formal in terms of conducting a traditional SWOT analysis of the business and a market assessment of their sector for the future. The owners and staff were encouraged and supported in the development of their own business and management skills so that they could continue to develop the business themselves in the future.
The owners realised that they were a business as a result of being forced to bid for work in a competitive environment. This enabled them to step back and take a look at what they wanted for the business, how they had got to the stage they were, and whether they wanted to make the changes themselves to achieve what they wanted. An atmosphere of informality and frankness and openness to the views of all was greatly influenced by the owners themselves who led the project with energy and awareness of the needs of their staff. They also acknowledged the need to be far more business focused and eagerly developed the skills needed to help them do that.
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