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The Professional Service Firm50

The Professional Service Firm50

by Tom Peters

NOOK Book(eBook)


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Transform white collar departments into "professional service firms" whose sole, powerful asset is knowledge.

Peters discusses making the most of presentations, working with outsiders on market analysis, how to imporve brainstorming meetings, how to develop relationships with clients and get the most out of them.

50 of Tom Peters's trademark insights on how to get the most our of your department.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780375410956
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/15/1999
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 240
File size: 559 KB

About the Author

TOM PETERS is a leading business management guru and founder of the Tom Peters Company. He continues to be in constant demand for lectures and seminars. Peters is the author of sixteen books, including In Search of Excellence (with Robert H. Waterman, Jr.), which is often cited as among the best business books ever written.  His blog, “Keep Up with Tom,” is a top management and leadership blog. He lives in Vermont.

Read an Excerpt

The White Collar Revolution will envelop 90+ percent of us. And quickly. The commonplace, if traumatic, changes that came to the factory, the distribution center, and the London docks are now racing toward the relatively unscathed world of "purchasing," "finance," "HR," "IT," etc.

Of course, we had "re-engineering" and "downsizing" in the nineties. But truth is, work in finance today looks about the way it did decades ago. We pass "papers" -- electronically, to be sure -- but the topics are about the same. And the processing delays are maddening as ever. As are the petty tyrants who oversee the processes. (Witness Dilbert's monumental popularity; the comic strip depicts my dad's day in the Credit and Collections Dept. at the Baltimore Gas & Electric Company, circa 1955, as accurately as it captures white collar world at the millennium's turn.)

But -- I repeat -- all that is about to change. So-called Enterprise Resource Planning systems from SAP, PeopleSoft, Baan, et al. will hit high gear within the next decade. Clumsy knowledge management and knowledge-sharing systems will gather a full head of steam . . . or, should I say, a light-speed flow of bits.

Those of us in jeopardy -- 90+ percent, don't forget! -- must invent a new game. A hot game that transforms "accounting" from the butt of a million jokes about "useless overhead," "purposeful obfuscators," and "petty bureaucrats" to the . . . ta da . . . scintillating center of value added through knowledge capital accumulation.

Sound too grand for you? Fine.

But . . . then . . . what's the (your) alternative?

An Answer/T-h-e Answer?

I contend there is an alternative, an answer even. And that is -- and long has been -- right under our collective noses. To wit: the "real" Professional Service Firm, or PSF. A la McKinsey & Co., Chiat/Day, Arthur Andersen. And Andersen Consulting. IDEO. And EDS. Pricewaterhouse -- Coopers. Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Wilson, Sonsini, Goodrich & Rosati. Etc.

These firms can be tiny . . . or huge. (EDS employs well over 100,000 people.) But regardless of size, they perform pure intellectually based services, own damn little in the way of hard assets, and sometimes deposit billions of $$$$ on the bottom line. They do Good Work. Valuable Work. And, often, Important Work.

Moreover, Life in a PSF is about as far a cry from DilbertDrones in DrearyVille (a.k.a. "Departments") as one can imagine.

So why have we left these firms out in the cold for so long? Why haven't we studied them? (We haven't. Period.) I think there is an answer. In short: We didn't take them seriously! When I joined McKinsey & Co. in 1974, the consultants . . . and lawyers . . . and accountants and ad agency denizens were considered the bloodsuckers, the parasites living off the sweat of real men's -- USW, UMW, and UAW members' -- brows.

And then a funny thing happened.

We woke up one morning and discovered . . . we'd won!

The economy had taken a 180-degree turn. Bill Gates was the richest man in the world . . . and the "soft guys," the "service guys," ruled. From Hollywood to Silicon Valley . . . to a revived (branding uber Alles!) Madison Avenue.

And so we started jawing about "virtual organizations" and "knowledge capital accumulation." Exotic, new stuff. And we imagined that we had to invent a brand-new wheel.

Not so!

I'll be the first to acknowledge that there are crappy professional service firms . . . just as there are incompetent retailers and second basemen who bat .200. But the pick of the litter -- just as with retailing -- have a lot to teach us. Teach us about, say, scintillating projects that add value. I.e.: Work that Matters!

THE "Model"

Our model is simple. And it will be expanded upon in this book and others in this 50List series. To wit:
Point-of-impact for this millennial meteor: the white collar worker (a.k.a.: you, me!).
Those who survive -- on or off a corporate payroll -- will jettison (almost) everything they've learned and (1) adopt the attributes/attitudes of a PSF/Professional Service Firm. (The subject of this book.) They will behave as (2) de facto (if not yet de jure) independent contractors, or what I call Brand Yous. (Please see the Brand You50.) I.e., survivors will "be" a product . . . and exhibit clear-cut distinction at . . . s- o-m- e-t-h-i-n-g. And (3) the bottom line or base element for the PSF, Brand You, and the White Collar Revolution: the Project. (Please see the Project50.)

Exciting "Bottom Line"

So that's the crux of the story!


Transforming work!

Performing Work that Matters!

Becoming Brand You!

Living in a scintillating Professional Service Firm . . . a Department that Matters!

We think that this logical case for transforming work is airtight. So join us on this . . .

Adventure Toward Work that WOWs!: Brief User's Guide

What follows is a portrait. A portrait of a "Department" transforming itself into a full-fledged Professional Service Firm. The aspirations are grand. The challenges are enormous.

Even if the logic rings true and the heart is willing, can you expect to pull off "all this stuff" (among other things, some 200 "To Do's")?


What you can do:
*        Treat this as the portrait it is. Imagine a Different World for your "Dept." Talk with colleagues about the portrait that does emerge . . . and your collective aspirations. (We urge you to dream!)
*        Go through the Main List of 50+ items and select, using some ranking scheme, 10 that make the most sense for you and your colleagues. (That are most important . . . and that are surprising/provocative.) Discuss the 10.
*        Select a couple of action steps (To Do's) from each of the 10 selected items. Find a Volunteer Champion, and consider an action plan for going after each one.
*        Alternatively, assign priorities to each of the seven sections in the book. Choose a Discussion Leader for each section. Once every two weeks, say, schedule a session to review a selected section; perhaps invite a relevant outsider to talk about the content. Consider practical Next Steps at the end of each discussion session.

There are 100 other ways to skin this cat. My point: We don't expect you to bite off the entire challenge in one crunchy chomp. We do hope you'll consider some scheme -- of your choosing -- for walking through the content in a measured way.

Who Is This Book For?

The idea of "PSF 50": Turning a "Dept." into a full-fledged, WOW-Project-obsessed Professional Service Firm. So . . . does that mean this is a book for bosses? Yes. And no.

Yes:The key idea is that the HR Dept. head is now . . . Managing Partner, HR Inc. No: We will all -- survivors! -- inhabit PSFs. We all must learn the ways of these exceptional institutions, and thence create mini-PSFs in every setting we inhabit. The PSF "mindset" is as appropriate/important to the neophyte 23-year-old professional as it is to that Department Head, age 43.

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