What I’m working on: The intersection between neuroscience and practice development

Yesterday, a good friend of mine asked if I was enjoying “retirement.” I explained that I haven’t retired (and never will) but have simply changed careers from running a consulting business to writing about the SME consulting process through the lens of my own experience, my observation of the experience of others, and based on some important science relating to the way people communicate and change their behaviour. My goal has been – I should say “is” because it’s a work in progress –  to curate what I consider to be the absolute best-of-breed ideas on how to build a firm that will play a powerful and valuable role in the small and mid-sized business space.

For example, when I was in practice I discovered by lengthy (and costly) trial and error that my sales conversion rate dramatically improved when I used a protocol consisting of carefully selected language, and the diagrammatic presentation of realistic potential payoffs, with the right type of clients.

Little did I know at the time there are strong cognitive biases at play that underpin the process of successful selling. Suddenly everything made sense after I read Danny Kahneman’s book Thinking Fast and Slow in which he provides a theoretical framework for that outcome which he and his colleague, Amos Tversky, named Prospect Theory – you may have seen the webinar I did on this a few years ago.

In my book you’ll see the diagram below which forms the basis of my advice on how to sell business advisory services. It worked for me and I’m sure it’ll work for you.


Kahneman (a psychologist) won the Nobel Prize in economics in 2002 and this year (2017) Richard Thaler (an economist) was awarded a Nobel Prize, also in economics, for his work in behavioural economics much of which was a collaboration with Kahneman and the late Amos Tversky. These researchers (and others) have made a massive contribution to understanding the way people think and behave when confronted with uncertainty which cuts to the core of driving change, pricing and selling products and services, as well as seemingly unrelated issues like recruiting, managing and developing team members.

When I started work on this project about 18 months ago I was thinking about it from a practice management perspective until I realized the world does not need another tome on that subject. I have discarded several draft manuscripts with the result that the underlying theme of my book and related collateral will now be about transitioning a traditional compliance practice to a compliance practice with a strong business advisory division i.e. it’s more about driving change than managing a modern practice.

The working title of the book is How to Create, Deliver, and Capture Value for Your Clients, Your Firm, and Yourself: A no bullshit guide to building an advisory practice on the back of strong compliance services©. If you can think of a better title, please share it with me.

In keeping with agile product development methodology and Steve Blank’s advice to “get out of the building” and talk to customers (readers in my case), if there are any particular challenges you are now facing and would like those to be addressed in my book please let me know by email to ric.payne@principa.net.

And finally, I’m going to offer a free digital copy of the book to the first 50 people who respond via email. Just send me a note to my Principa email address mentioning “free digital copy” in the subject line and it will be yours.

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