Are CFO firms like the cobbler without shoes–good at teaching and delivering strategy but not good at applying it to themselves?
If you run or are part of a CFO firm, does that describe your organization?
Words of Wisdom from the Dean of Consultants
I consider David Maister (now retired) as the Peter Drucker version for consulting firms. After leaving his Havard faculty post, he started his own consulting practice to work exclusively with professional services firms.
After revisiting some of his great teachings recently, I appreciated one of his fundamental strategy questions:
“What do you want to be known for?”
But that begs a great follow-up question. What are we known for right now (my question)?
Therein lies the (potential) gap–the difference between what we are known for today and what we want to be known for.
As a CFO firm, maybe you are like me by being booked solid (always). Yet, I have much work to do in closing the gap.
How about you? Is the gap narrowing or getting wider? If so, what are you doing about it?
A Few David Maister Links
There’s no way I can mention Mr. Maister without providing some relevant links:
- While he’s retired, his website is still active. There are some great articles in his blog. My favorite post is about pricing consulting services. That post was written in 2008. Change the date to today, and it’s still relevant.
- There are 19 short podcasts based around his excellent book Strategy and the Fat Smoker.
- I’ve already mentioned Strategy and the Fat Smoker. Maister was a long-time smoker who ultimately quit the habit and lost 30 pounds, and that’s where the title came from. The book reads like a series of blog posts based on years of wisdom. The book is long on concepts but short on practical application (which reminds me of Drucker).
- Managing the Professional Service Firm is probably his most widely circulated book. Maister talks about strategy in chapter 20. While his message may seem common sense, I wonder how many firms could answer his basic questions. The One-Firm Firm chapter is also a strategy discussion that’s relevant for every CFO firm.
- The other book worth mentioning is The Trusted Advisor–the first 7 chapters are necessary reading for any new CFO entering the consulting business.