The Obama transition team recently announced the nomination of the first Chief Performance Officer for the United States. Nancy Killefer, a senior management consultant at McKinsey & Company, is to be given responsibility for eliminating unnecessary government programs and streamlining bureaucracy. She will be an official watchdog charged with rooting out and eradicating waste. One commentator spoke approvingly of the nomination, saying
A person who cares about good business practices, and who takes the results-oriented approach of reinventing government rather than the compliance-oriented approach to management that has had more visibility recently, is exactly what we need.
Given the current state of the economy, more than one law firm might be considering the advisability of appointing a chief performance officer as a way of saving money. However, before we head down that path, I’d suggest that focusing on financial waste alone misses the point. In fact, there are several areas in which top performance is necessary in order to ensure the health and long-term viability of a law firm:
- How well do we deliver client service?
- How well do we manage our resources (chief among which are our people)?
- How well do we design and implement our business processes?
- How well do we manage our costs?
Measuring performance in each of these areas is challenging. Yet, the law firm that masters this will be in prime condition to weather the current economic storms and exploit the next upturn in the business cycle.
[Photo Credit: Luke Redmond, Creative Commons license]