Tom McCarty gave a fascinating talk on how professional firms can build client relationships using the Six Sigma principles of corporate America. Why? Because Six Sigma is the language that clients are talking and they are attracted to professional firms that employ the program.
McCarty is Vice President of Motorola University Consulting Services in Schaumburg, Illinois. He’s a Six Sigma “black belt” and spoke this morning at the Legal Sales and Service Organization conference here in Boston.
I was astonished to learn that several leading law firms are already using Six Sigma principles, which Motorola invented and GE made famous. The law firms are keeping it secret that they’ve adopted Six Sigma, because it’s such a huge competitive advantage. Here’s my educated expose as to the law firms that have done so:
Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy LLP
King & Spalding
Shearman & Sterling
Baker & Hostetler
Irell & Manella
Fish & Neave
Hunton & Williams
If I’ve wrongfully named your firm, I challenge you to tell me I’m incorrect.
Ideally, a professional firm will actually employ Six Sigma, which is an efficiency program designed to engage customers in a collaborative dialog, drive joint business improvement projects, and drive sustainable, strategic relationships with key clients. It’s a major culture change for law firms.
But for those of you looking for a short cut, here’s some Six Sigma lingo you can toss into a conversation:
• The Big Y: this refers to business results that matter, a company’s prime goals.
• A company’s “x’s”: these are the activities that will enable a company to achieve its goals.
• Green belt or black belt: levels of expertise at Six Sigma
• 3.4 defects per million opportunities: this is the definition of Six Sigma
• DMAIC: for define opportunities, measure performance, analyze opportunity, improve performance, control performance
• Innovations workshop: gathering the senior partners of your firm in the same room with top executives at the client company, and getting the executives to “spill their guts” about the metrics that drive their business, what drives their customers, understanding the client’s current processes and prioritizing potential improvements. The meeting takes about 3 hours.
Obviously, I’m cramming an entire process into one short post, but for more on Six Sigma, Read Tom McCarty’s new book, The New Six Sigma