I had a blast yesterday morning talking to Eric Mankin about innovation in the legal services arena. (Eric is the Executive Director of Babson College's very dynamic Center for Innovation and Corporate Entrepreneurship -- check it out).
Many people assume that innovation narrowly means changing the product or service into something different. Well, it ain't necessarily so!
For a law firm, or businesses in architecture, accounting, management consulting, or beyond, innovation can and does involve adapting and changing internal processes, organizational structures, service delivery approaches and more.
Eric explained that his research will also incorporate how law firms innovate in context to other firms in their own sector. The main point here is that too many PSFs think about innovation only relative to their company's current state of doing business. If you compared PSF innovation to other sectors, we'd look backwards indeed. If you are in a manufacturing company, you might throw your hands up and say, "Well that's not innovative!"
But it's not enough to consider "doing something new" only against your firm's own past approaches. Instead, you should consider how this innovation will impact your company's competitive positioning in context to its rivals. What might be the marketplace result of this innovation?
In that way, innovation moves from an act of internal convenience to an act of competitive advantage. Are there examples out there about how professional service firms are embracing innovation as an avenue toward market leadership? Send them along, and I'll write about them.