Law firm demonstrates that lean thinking is not just for manufacturers

22nd February 2013

Black Country law firm Higgs & Sons and Aston Business School took centre stage at the West Midlands Economic Forum (WMEF) to demonstrate to the wider business community that lean thinking should not just be reserved for manufacturing companies, but that it can also successfully transform culture in a professional service firm.

Paul Forrest, director of WMEF said: "The dynamic relationship between the services sector and both the manufacturing and logistics sectors is a critical competitive advantage of the West Midlands economy. 

"With innovative firms such as Higgs & Sons adopting lean approaches to improve delivery of products and services, delivering solutions that fit the actual needs of clients, then further improvements in regional competitiveness can be anticipated."

Higgs is currently nearing the completion of a two-year partnership with Aston Business School funded on a part Technology Strategy Board and the West Midlands European Regional Development Fund Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project.

The project is delivering organisational transformation within Higgs towards better understanding of client needs and expectations, re-examining pricing strategy and challenging operational processes by using novel systems thinking approaches.

Dr Ben Clegg, lead academic on the project for Aston Business School said of the project: "Systems-thinking enables people to consider whole-business issues in manageable sized chunks."

Glyn Morris, Higgs' finance director and KTP project champion spoke at last week's business briefing about the antecedents of this project and the need for transformation in professional service delivery. He said: "The briefing gave us an ideal opportunity to update the Midlands' business community on our research project.

"We are applying the ideas of lean thinking to a professional services environment, where results are already showing greater efficiency and effectiveness for the firm whilst increasing and strengthening client relationships."

Krishna Balthu is the associate working on the project and has said that it has supported his own professional growth.

Among the attendees, Russ Bromley, regional KTP advisor at the Technology Strategy Board, said he was pleased to see the dissemination of the project findings in a way to create impact in the region's business community.

Higgs & Sons works from two offices in the Black Country - Waterfront Business Park in Brierley Hill and Kingswinford. The firm employs over 200 people, which includes 100 specialist lawyers. Aston Business School is one of Europe's top 50 Business Schools, based in the Centre of Birmingham.

West Midlands Economic Forum is a neutral, independent forum bringing together representatives of the public, private and voluntary sectors to evaluate real trends in the local economy.  The West Midlands Economic Forum is based in The Public, West Bromwich and is working with Aston and other Business Schools of the West Midlands to develop fresh analysis and understanding of the local economy.  For further details on research being undertaken or forthcoming events, please email:

 West Midlands Economic Forum

Left to right: Glyn Morris, Ben Clegg, Paul Forrest and Krishna Balthu


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