The Rise of the Internal Professional Service Firm

Sometimes your working life overlaps into your home life in a good way.

As a present for my brother-in-laws fiftieth birthday we were staying at one of our favourite B&B for a couple of nights with a day’s cooking for the boys at Nick Nairn’s cook school. As we sat there with the other participants learning about the joys of cooking meat it became apparent that excellence in cooking and excellence in business have many crossovers.

1. You can have the right ingredients but you have to make sure the quality of each is right.

2. You can have the right ingredients but you have to bring them together correctly to make the dish work

3. The best ingredients have generally be stored correctly and given time to mature, you can’t rush quality

4. Cheaper cuts can make good food but need a bit longer to cook

5. Technical knowledge is great but you have to understand what you’re actually working with

But enough musing and back to the task in hand.

In a recent discussion on Internal psf’s it was interesting in that I came from a background where each group expected top level results from the previous operation and was expected to do the same , with the customer supplier relationship changing multiple times. It is this ethos that I believe is it at the core of truly great organisations in that you can’t satisfy the external customer without first looking after the internals. However as I said , “It’s simple but not easy”, and to me it has always been there but perhaps not stated in the same explicit terms, some organisation have just done it as part of their DNA.

In my experience models and tools need to be introduced to a client at an appropriate time in their own journey either to solidify a change already underway or to enable a change of direction to begin.  They may have already decided what excellence means or require support in this evaluation. There will be word of positive caution in that once the genie is out of the bottle it’s hard to get it back in.

For me these are typically longer engagements across a 6-18 month timeframe where the formation of Internal Professional Service Firms becomes a key fulcrum. Why would you have an internal function performing less poorly than an external firm.

Indeed one of my favourite questions is; “What would you expect if you were paying an external firm to deliver your function?”

Quickly followed by; “Is that what you are delivering currently?”

Generally this is followed by silence, pensive looks and uncomfortable shifting.

What would your response be?


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