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26 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the wait, 10 Feb 2008
By 
Nicholas J. R. Dougan "Nick Dougan" (Kent, UK) - See all my reviews
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This is David Maister's sixth book, (of which two, strictly speaking, were co-authored). He is a very energetic blogger, and I should "declare an interest" in so far as I have followed the blog and have read all of the books. After reading his first, Managing the Professional Service Firm, aka the PSF, I changed career to get involved in that very sector, and have had few regrets.

The Fat Smoker metaphor is that fat smokers know that they should stop smoking, eat less and exercise more - but that they are demotivated by the scale of the whole journey and can find any number of reasons for not taking the first step. Maister - who claims he was the archetypical fat smoker, but who is reformed after a health scare - identifies the changes in approach needed actually to make the change. Small, easily achievable and recognisable steps are the key.

This book represents no radical departure from Maister's earlier thinking. He tells some of the same old stories from Managing the PSF, like turning down work (to teach customer service to car dealerships) in pursuit of his strategy (of consulting to PSFs). He recommends learning to say "no" to work that is "off-strategy". He invents new metaphors - to the Hunters and Farmers of Managing the PSF, the Nurses, Psychotherapists, Pharmacists, and Brain Surgeons of "True Professionalism", he now adds "Mountain Lions, Wolf Packs, Spider/Beavers and Humans/Bees". These work for me: if you work in a PSF, or indeed many other modern businesses, you will be able to categorise you colleagues and gain insights into their motivation.

This book continues a trend evident, I think, over his writings, towards a personal development message. Managing the PSF was relatively coldly businesslike; in Practice what you Preach" and this book Maister has become much more interested in what really motivates people to achieve excellence. In his final chapter of this book Maister says "I have in the past tended to preface my remarks about such things as caring for your people and your clients by saying `These are not moral points. They are just good business tactics.' I no longer try to say it that way. It has become increasingly clear that...people who are acting on principle are much more likely to get done what they say they will do than will those who are doing those things solely in pursuit of future rewards." So it's not just what to do, it's about what you should be, how you might transform yourself if you really want to - and then how you transform others.

My main quibble regards this book has been over delivery times: having ordered the book from amazon.co.uk at the beginning of January, and still having been quoted an April delivery date last weekend, I finally cancelled that order and ordered from amazon.com in frustration - and had delivery just three days later. Mr Maister has apparently abandoned Simon & Schuster for a local publisher and this has clearly had an impact on delivery times. This probably won't be a problem, however, as soon as his followers' backlog has been cleared - the site today suggests British deliveries before the end of February.

If you are involved in the management of PSFs then I would thoroughly recommend this, and Maister's other books. Few such firms measure up to the standards that Maister advocates, and Maister says that it is fine to aim for something lesser if you don't pretend that you are something greater, but if you want to achieve any improvement then this book can only help.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book......, 12 Jun 2012
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The fat smoker is an excellent summary of all of David's books, providing clear and concise practical discussions on the many issues facing professional services businesses in the current workplace. This is a must read for any professionals or graduates embarking on their career and should sit on desks and be used for references during their entire lives.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Maister is a Master, 6 Nov 2011
David Maister offers some of the clearest insights into the professional mind and managing a professional services firm. Essential reading for Managing Partners, even those who have read his earlier books will benefit. New entrants to the professions will gain some ideas on how to progress.
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