Where are all the Holly Ransoms' in your firm?

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  A few weeks ago I was privileged to speak at leading solvency & forensic accounting experts Worrells 2017 VIC State Conference.(great event Worrells put on by the way)

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If being given the graveyard shift (immediately after lunch) and also being last presenter for the day (standing between professionals and the bar/18 holes of golf) was not bad enough but a baby boomer like me was also following the amazing millennial that is Holly Ransom.

imgres-6Now I don't know how many of you know of Holly-I had certainly heard of her ( hard not to notice a 20 something with a CV that includes the youngest person to be named Australia's 100 Most Influential Women, Chair of the 2014 G20 Youth Summit and the world's youngest-ever Rotary President) but had never met her nor heard her present.

Wow! Holly's keynote about our changing world and in particular the role millennials now, and increasingly in the future will, play was at the same time inspirational, exciting, challenging and scary. As Holly pointed out and challenged the audience in her keynote:

"50% of the world’s population is under 30, and within the next decade this millennial cohort will grow to comprise 75% of our workforce. Mix in that 42% of jobs are due to be automated within the decade and suffice to say that the nature of work and leadership is changing on us- will you be leading or bleeding?" 

Looking around the room full of mainly middle aged, predominantly male accountants and lawyers, as expert and skilled in their crafts as they are, I couldn't help but sense that many were feeling decidedly uneasy or unsure about whether they will in fact be leading or bleeding in the not too distant future.

At least, as they say, forewarned is forearmed and Holly made sure the audience understood the future is going to look very different from the present and bear no resemblance whatsoever to the past.

I was fortunate enough to speak with Holly briefly before her keynote and was surprised to find out she actually studied law-but not surprised to discover she never actually practiced.As she was speaking I kept wondering to myself what if Holly Ransom had have joined a law firm-would she have enjoyed her experience? Would she have been satisfied to be part of the Oldlaw business model (which leverages people x time x hourly rate)? Would she have been able to change some of the things she might not have liked about practising law? Would she have been content? Would she have been able to make an impact anywhere like she has done with her own business?

It also got me thinking as to where are all the Holly Ransoms' in the professions? Why can't we attract them and then the few we do attract, why is it we can't we retain them? Why predominantly in the professions, instead of breeding our own innovators, change agents and disruptors do we buy in or rent the Holly Ransoms' of the world externally?

imgres-7Why can't, as Steven Johnson so persuasively points out in his masterful book "Where Good Ideas Come From?" and expertly summarised in this video clip, the professions breed a culture of innovation from within instead of going external.

As Steven Johnson says "chance favours the collective mind" and after all professional firms are built around smart, intelligent, social people working together many hours per day, so surely they can all get together and maximise the sum of their individual parts to come up with some amazing innovative thoughts and ideas?

But we know that is not how it works in most professional firms don't we? As I (and many others) have written about before the structure, the measurements and the rewards in most professional firms do not engender a culture of collaboration, trust and connectivity necessary for innovation to even get a foothold-let alone survive & thrive.

But back to Worrells 2017 VIC State Conference. I challenged the audience and asked them

"where are the Holly Ransoms' in your firms?And if not, why not?

If you are in a professional firm I ask you the same questions.

Handy Hint: If you don’t have any Holly Ransoms’ in your firm do the next best thing-get her in to speak to your people-she may actually help you uncover your hidden Hollys’.

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