One of the most important axioms I ever learn about professional services marketplace leadership was from Carl Bochmann, a former Booz Allen Hamilton partner, who taught me that "quality is your best salesperson." No matter which professional sector I've advised, be it accounting or executive search, management consulting or architecture, or any other, this lesson applies. It also applies to my own firm.
It's especially painful, then, to watch the unfolding events related to Boston's Big Dig. Last night, twelve tons of cement from one of the Big Dig tunnels collapsed on a vehicle, killing a passenger. The Massachusetts Attorney General is calling this "a crime scene," and "Reilly's office already has begun issuing subpoenas to those involved in the design, manufacturing, testing, construction and oversight of the panels and tunnel."
You can imagine the unbelievably negative marketplace reputation that will be assigned to the many professional firms that were involved in this huge project. Your firm -- and mine -- might feel somewhat smug, that at least our work doesn't result in people dying! But one need only look as far as Enron and Arthur Andersen to be reminded of the massive marketplace shifts that occurred after that scandal -- and those that we are still feeling.
We could be at the early stages of seeing this happening again in the design, engineering, construction and construction management sectors.
I don't care what your profession is, or how clever your marketing strategy might be: quality has got to figure on your company's ground level.