Each one of you who reads this is probably in some way a teacher and a mentor in addition to being a top-quality professional. You have learned and practice an important lesson at problem-solving from your experience, which Bill Lazier, the famous business professor from Stanford University, expressed thusly:
"Don't try to come up with the right answers; focus on coming up with good questions."
Having stretched his students with tough questions, the good and perplexing questions, when the students did come up with right answers—or with the right path to the right answers—out came the chalk and up on the blackboard went the answer.
One of the great questions, one of direct applicability to all industries that are impacted in a down cycle of the economy, is "What causes an organization to die?" With the infinite variety of businesses and industries, the initial response can be one of being overwhelmed. How can there be a simple answer that is also accurate? But there is one, and it applies to companies of all sizes and types. (Yes, that includes law firms.) And it comes from Professor Lazier as well:
"Organizations do not die from a lack of earnings. They die from a lack of cash."
So let us look at that one word: cash.
(Reprinted with permission of The ABA Journal, copyright 2014)
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