In many law firms, there's the same push to purge old-line lawyers.
Those lawyers can't pile on the billable hours. They can't develop new business. What they might not realize is that it's not their expertise which is the obstacle. It's their out-of-date branding.
GE's stock is down 25% since Immelt took over the leadership of GE in 2001. Specifically, security analysts want him to step down. BigLaw isn't in a growth mode.
Remember when there was that kind of decline at IBM in the early 1990s? Its leader John Akers was finished. In parachuted outsider Lou Gerstner Jr. And all was well.
But ... If we study Immelt's strategies as the world economy heals post-2008 Crash, GE seems on the verge of transformation. The most important of those moves is to literally relocate the multinational out of sleepy Connecticut (with its high taxes) to techie Boston.
Immelt's vision is for GE to become a software powerhouse. Boston, although not as well known for tech as Silicon Valley and New York City, has an amazing tech infrastructure.
For GE not to miss the future, Immelt has to rebrand his persona. Otherwise no constituency, ranging from stock pickers to the media, will buy into his mission.
In Boston Magazine, Michael Damiano depicts Immelt as an earnest Midwestern WASP whose approach to a conversation is professorial.
Of course, that's not the image which sells tech. Think wild-eyed Jeff Bezos, ultra-confident Mark Zuckerberg and combative Michael Arrington.
In addition, in this era of speeded-up time the tedious tone of professorial is a total turn-off. We want that supposed expert to just spit it out. Prospects needing legal services want those pitching to get to the heart of the manner. Fast.
An image shift used to be difficult. Branding, it was assumed, was forever. That was then.
Immelt, with supreme self-assertion, can simply strut in with the rebrand. Not only will constituencies accept it. The GE stock is bound to go up.
Lawyers whose jobs are in peril can hire a presentation coach. The purchase order should read: Rebrand me into an all-business salesperson, with laser-like focus. The message will be: "Here are the X ways we (that "we" assumes the sale) can solve this problem. I recommend the ABC way. I won Y number of cases that way. What I charge is ___." The tone is Take It or Leave It.
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