Beyond the black box

Some months back Ross Dawson sent me a free copy of his book, Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships: Leadership in Professional Services. I am not a prolific reader and the book sat on my desk for a long time, leaving me feeling guilty.

But I disciplined myself to read it recently and I liked it. Ross has really been thinking hard about his subject and paints a clear picture of a big shift in professional services, away from the “black box” model – where the firm does mysterious things for the client and makes sure no-one ever finds out their secret. Ross chronicles lots of examples of a knowledge sharing approach, where sharing knowledge is the basis for creating value.

One simple but high end example of this: law firm Lovells went to their client Prudential Propety Services and told them they were doing a lot of routine work for them that they could get done much more cheaply elsewhere. Then co-created a programme to assess each brief, and separate routine tasks from complex ones. Lovells would then contract-out the routine work to smaller, regional firms and focus their efforts on the curved balls. They saved the Pru a lot of money… and created so much trust that they were given a bigger portfolio to work on . Then they took their application and won over new clients with the same idea.

That example is going straight into James‘ and my new Change This manifesto (Co-creation Rules, coming soon). And I recommend Ross’s book to anyone who wants to substantiate the idea that co-creation is way more than just getting customers to write your ads for you.

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