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Aligning the Stars: How to Succeed When Professionals Drive Results Hardcover


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Aligning the Stars: How to Succeed When Professionals Drive Results + Reinventing Strategy: Using Strategic Learning to Create and Sustain Breakthrough Performance + Marketplace Masters: How Professional Service Firms Compete to Win
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business Review Press; 1st edition (April 26, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578515130
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578515134
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #335,028 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Combining perspectives of "a doer and a teacher" with experiences of two dozen professional service firms representing the ups and downs of the Old and New economies, Aligning the Stars offers detailed analysis of such firms today--and specific suggestions for their future success. Jay W. Lorsch, professor of human relations at Harvard Business School, and Thomas J. Tierney, former chief executive of Bain & Company (and now chairman of its nonprofit affiliate), interviewed principals at successful and struggling law firms, ad agencies, investment banks, and similar institutions to determine the practices that have helped the best thrive. Their conclusion: "Outstanding firms are consistently able to identify, attract, and retain star performers; to get stars committed to their firm's strategy; to manage stars across geographic distance, business lines, and generations; to govern and lead so that both the organization and its stars prosper and feel rewarded." Their book subsequently provides specific ways these "stars" (key performances critical to organizational success) can be "aligned" (via practices and structures that match their needs with those of the business). Lorsch and Tierney progress logically through client-centered strategies, development- and motivation-oriented people systems, corporate structure and governance, organizational culture, and leadership. A final section aims to help readers succeed in these newly shaped environments. --Howard Rothman

From Publishers Weekly

Focusing on the sector of professional service firms (including ad agencies, law firms, executive search firms, tech service providers, strategy consultants and more), Harvard Business School professor Lorsch and consultant Tierney explain how to manage talent for success. The authors examine 18 organizations, from Goldman Sachs to Ogilvy & Mather, to show readers how "alignment" (organizing a firm's talent) results from leadership and its implementation. Professional service firms are a major component of business today, making the market for Lorsch and Tierney's book a substantial one. Their suggestions are timely and specific.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John Gibbs TOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 14, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Outstanding professional services firms are consistently able to identify, attract and retain star performers, get stars committed to their firm's strategy, manage stars across geographic distance, business lines and generations, and govern and lead so that both the organization and its stars prosper and feel rewarded, according to Jay Lorsch and Thomas Tierney in this book.

Strategy is frequently a difficult issue for a professional services firm. The firm's management may try to set strategy in one direction, but if the partners and key operators pursue individual strategies which do not align with that set by management, the official firm strategy gets overruled. Because of the high degree of autonomy enjoyed by professionals, managing partners typically have very little coercive power, and managerial success requires a much higher set of people skills than is required in more hierarchical workplaces.

One aspect of the culture of a professional services firm which is critical to future success is the development of talent. Young potential stars need to encounter appropriate challenges and receive sufficient feedback and mentoring along the way. Mediocrity needs to be stamped out, or the best performers might be tempted to leave for higher-performing firms. Senior professionals need to be cajoled into diverting time and resources away from serving clients to training colleagues.

The book offers significant insights into many of the key issues facing professional services firms, including organizational structure and culture, leading without being able to control, designing and implementing people management systems, and managing your own professional career. This is one of the most helpful books I have read on professional service firm management, and I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By RWJ on March 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
As a former CEO of a professional services firm and experienced practitioner, I find this book to be highly insightful and thought-provoking. I refer to it often. The authors share many examples of how a leader of a professional service firm can create a stronger team and build a better firm. It is even more relevant in today's economy. Recommend it highly.
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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Jim on September 12, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I've spent over 10 years with Big 5 consulting firms and read this book with a great degree of enthusiasm, given the background of the authors. But I was very disappointed! The book is laced with "feel good" examples about what other firms are doing in running their practices without actually formulating any definitive conclusions or suggestions (as one would find in David Maister's work). It appears more like the authors talking about their experiences/adventures with no particular audience in mind. So if you want to read this book, do not expect any serious advice coming out of it.
Hope this is helpful
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