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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 12 January 2001
If you have ever worked in, been a partner or managed a consultancy firm, this book will not only answer a lot of your troubling questions, it will also explain matters that you did not know the questions to - just the obnoxious frustration of something that was not working. It is with incredible ease, yet depth and understanding that David H. Maister plough through the important issues that concerns not only managing partners in a consultant company, but anyone who wants to climb up the ladder. He explains why you got to balance your workcrew (juniors up to partners) and why it is so vitally important to mix people on the right combination of projects (brains, grey hair and procedure projects) as this builds up the firm's human capital, and provides the means and profitability to continue to grow steadily. I could go on but space does not allow me to. This book is not filled with theoritical babble but practical and useful information, no - knowledge and experience!
The book is divided into seven parts (personal highlights inside brackets): basic matters, client matters (quality work does not mean quality service!), people matters (building human capital, the motivation crises), management matters (creating a strategy), partnership matters (the art of parner compensation), multisite matters (the collaborative firm, hunters and farmers, etc.) and asset management. All in all it comprises of 32 chapters.
You won't find many books that explains service business any better than this one. I know because I went searching.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
It is for consultants like the Bible for Christians and Capital for Marxists
This book is like a Bible for all professionals, regardless of whether they are working on their own or for a company. It can be read again and again and every time you can find something new. I think that even Maister did not suspect how great it would be. I feel able to declare that everybody who wants to be called "a consultant" must read this book.
Although this book consists of articles by different years it can be read without any difficulty. Maister also used international English and therefore it is easy for non-native English speakers to read.
I found especially interesting the following chapters:
1. Marketing to Existing Client
2. Attracting new Clients
3. Managing the Marketing Effort
The core ideas of all these chapters are:
1. Demonstrate you ability do not declare (Marketing works when it is demonstrative not
assertive)
2. The most effective type of marketing is client-level marketing (face-to-face meeting not to-broadcast marketing)
3. Existing clients are the best sources of new business (and often the most profitable ones)
4. Marketing activities represent an investment and therefore should be budgeted for.
The author puts all these principles into practice. In this book (and all the rest of his books) he demonstrates his quality. He treats all his readers (all of us) if we were already his clients and which means he shares some top secrets of this business.

All in all, I can say that it is amazing how many new ideas I managed to get from this book for so little money. Buying this book was one of my greatest investments. I only regret that I did not read this book in the eginning of my career in consulting.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 3 July 2000
David Maister is one of the best exponents around of managing professional service firms. I came across the hardback edition of this book seven years ago when I was doing a course run for board directors of the global public relations firm, Burson-Marsteller. Now as independent public relations practitioner I find it an invaluable source of guidance. While I am generally none too keen on Amercian management textbooks - a little too evangelical for me - this is different. Full of cogent, well-reasoned and useful advice from the viewpoint of a practitioner. Highly recommended.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2009
I read this book as a lawyer and my comments apply only in that context.

There are many areas David Maister refers to where the legal profession has simply moved on from the analysis that he gives. For example, he is very uncritical of the traditional firm model of equity partners leveraged by ambitious young professionals motivated by reaching partner status. The whole book assumes that this model will largely persist. However in the UK this model is substantially under threat from alternative business structures and external non lawyer sources of capital.

Junior grades at law firms are increasingly staffed by non qualified paralegals who are trained to become effective in a very narrow area of practice. They are paid a fraction of what traditional lawyers would earn, but they are just as effective in their area. These people are also highly disposable in that they acquire a relatively narrow range of skills and may be redundant when the market turns away from their area. They have no chance of becoming an owner of the firm. Where this isn't the case now, it is a model likely to be increasingly adopted. Thus the whole premise of much of Maisters book, management of the process by which junior staff work fantastically hard to gain the prize of partnership, is looking increasingly irrelevant.

The chapter based on the presumption that demographic changes, reducing the number of young talented individuals available to recruit, is not the experience of law firms who find that the massive increase in lawyer training in the UK means there is a glut of people with law degrees and professional qualifications seeking to be solicitors. In the current economic climate it is likely to be many years before this changes.

The book contains no real assessment of the effect of economic pressure to reduce costs and the impact that IT has already had and will increasingly have on the professsion. David Maister should read Richard Susskind.

From my experience, I'd say this book fairly accurately describes the way things have been in the legal professsion and the way they still are for many law firms. But I don't think it has much to offer the forward looking UK lawyer. It might apply to merchant bankers, architects and doctors practices. However my own view is that good IT, the pace of technological development, the rapidity of organisational changes and the rapid turnover in the content of knowledge based industries means that the traditional professional practice structures that Maister describes may be becoming increasingly out of date.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 3 November 2009
While not increadibly profound, it does an excellent job of finding the right balance between breadth and depth. All the common pitfalls of managing a professional service firm are addressed in sufficient detail to enable further thinking on the subject, and finding material going more deeply into specific aspects of interest.

I also like how the book is used as a marketing device for his own consulting business. It goes far beyond being a teaser and is a complete product in its own right, while at the same time showing the possibility of more (selling his consulting services) - especially in terms of helping companies actually do what they know is the right thing to do.

Looking forward to Strategy and the Fat Smoker: Doing What's Obvious But Not Easy, which is my next item on the list from Maister.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2000
Good platform for getting the fundamentals right. However many aspects in professional services are changing with consultancies and other agencies alike moving into VC's and incubators - the impact on rewarding talent and paying for services via equity is irreversible and challenges the traditional model which is very well supported in this book. An update would make it perfect.
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on 25 January 2008
David Maister is undoubtedly an expert in this area. This book will be an asset to practice managers and certainly aspiring managers working within management or IT consultancy firms. Very Good read and lots of useful facts! By reading this you will surely gain appreciation of how a consultancy/professional service practices work, its common strategies, key drivers, structures and bottom-line figures.
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on 3 November 2011
Great book. A classic on professional firms.

It is all rather calculating perhaps. And maybe it is less strong on creating the soul (or identity or whatever you want to call it) of a good consulting business or other professional firm. But it is good nonetheless. And I think the advice and suggestions are very sound - from structure to marketing.
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on 27 September 1998
It is all in this book. If you are responsible for marketing professional services, this book brings 100 years of experience. It will make you a super star. It has the data, the method, the plan. It's up to you to implement it, but it's one that is easy to do...and it works.
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on 27 September 1998
It is all in this book. If you are responsible for marketing professional services, this book brings 100 years of experience. It will make you a super star. It has the data, the method, the plan. It's up to you to implement it, but it's one that is easy to do...and it works.
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