Managing for organizingOrganizing for innovationProfessional Services

Professional Service Firms: Innovate Inside

In 2004, Suzanne Lowe wrote a blog in Bloomberg Business Week about innovation in professional service firms. She outlines why it is important and how to incentivize it. Now, 10 years later, her call seems even more relevant, with opportunities such as social media (LinkedIn), big data and an abundance of information available online. Can professional service organizations afford to wait another 10 years without innovating? 

Innovate inside

This is what Suzanne Lowe wrote back then about innovating from the inside:  “Product manufacturers and tech companies have for years embraced the concept of rewarding employees who create marketable new products that help their outfits stay ahead of the competition. For professional-service firms, on the other hand, the concept of innovation is much less embraced. Yet, more than ever, it is critically important.

“Imagine the reactions of lawyers, accountants, management consultants, IT consultants, engineers, or architects as their marketing teams present the stark reality: If they don’t start to innovate their firm’s service portfolio, they will be vying with a legion of lookalike competitors, the only notable distinction being their rock-bottom bids. Presented with that news, you would expect to see throats clearing and arms being crossed. Then, the audience would begin disputing the facts and bickering over how to react to them.”

Inside Out

Current opportunities

Does the scenario described above ring a bell? How many opportunities to innovate have you let pass you by in the last 10 years? What about now, when the opportunities for innovation seem even greater? Think about what you can do with social networks such as LinkedIn. How can you use them to reach and communicate with your existing and future clients? What about big data? What data are you tracking within your firm, and how are you and your clients benefiting from it all?

What about the abundance of information on the internet? It used to be that clients relied on you to inform them. Today, with a simple Google search, your clients will get more information than they can possibly digest. Are your services still based on feeding the customer with information? Or have you moved to this new economy, helping your clients sort through and separate the chaff from the wheat?


To benefit you will have to take action. The speed with which you learn from and take advantage of these opportunities, will give your professional service organization the competitive advantage you need to be and remain successful in the marketplace.

The past 10 years have given us new insights into how to organize for innovation in the professional service context. We at Organizing4Innovation will gladly share these insights with you, enabling your organization to act upon all the opportunities that are out there.

If you are interested in learning how to organize for innovation, please contact us at info”at” organizing4innovation”dot”com or visit our website for more information



2004 Business week article