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Strategy and the Fat Smoker; Doing What's Obvious But Not Easy Hardcover – January 2, 2008

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Strategy and the Fat Smoker; Doing What's Obvious But Not Easy + The Trusted Advisor + Managing The Professional Service Firm
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Knowing what your company needs to do is relatively obvious: the test for us all is actually making it happen. David Maister reminds us remorselessly of this painful truth and then, through anecdote, metaphor and case history, more than compensates by showing us how to turn empty aspiration into hard reality. (Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP) --Sir Martin Sorrell, CEO, WPP

Strategy and the Fat Smoker is a masterpiece - a rare blend of wisdom, experience, and humility. Every manager, and anyone who works in a professional services firm, ought to read this lovely book. (Robert I. Sutton, Stanford Professor and co-author of The Knowing-Doing Gap.) --Robert I. Sutton, Stanford Professor and co-author of The Knowing-Doing Gap.

David Maister has built a career on giving unerringly wise advice to those of us in the business of advising and leading. He offers the reader the motivation, tools and wisdom to achieve more than we might ever have thought possible. This is essential reading for anyone determined to succeed. (Paul A. Laudicina, Managing Officer and Chairman of the Board, A.T. Kearney) --Paul A. Laudicina, Managing Officer and Chairman of the Board, A.T. Kearney

About the Author

David Maister is widely acknowledged as one of the world's leading authorities on the management of professional service firms. For 25 years, he has acted as a consultant to the most prominent professional firms around the world. He is the author of the bestselling books Managing the Professional Service Firm, True Professionalism, The Trusted Advisor, Practice What You Preach and First Among Equals.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 275 pages
  • Publisher: Spangle Press, The; 1st American Hardcov edition (January 2, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0979845718
  • ISBN-13: 978-0979845710
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #146,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David H. Maister, one of the world's leading authorities on the management of professional service firms, is the author of several successful books, including Managing the Professional Service Firm, True Professionalism, and Practice What You Preach, and coauthor of The Trusted Advisor.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By J. Shaffer on January 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
David Maister has written another very readable, logical, practical book that's brimming with common sense. It's for leaders who could use a Dutch uncle's bony index finger in their sternum to remind them of what they already know but don't have the focus and discipline to do day after day.

As a management consultant for the past 25-plus years, I've watched leaders struggle with defining, clarifying and implementing business strategies. They struggle because it's not easy work. It's like dieting or quitting smoking and staying with it. It's hard work.

Drawing on the diet/smoking analogy, Maister offers up useful ways to think about strategy--starting with having the right mindset. To this he introduces tools, techniques and processes to make strategy work...this time.

He's so usefully blunt with that bony index finger. "Real strategy lies not in figuring out what to do, but in devising ways to ensure that, compared to others, we actually do more of what everybody knows they should do." So, strategy is not just about strategy, but execution.

And commitment and resolute focus. "You can't achieve a competitive differentiation through things you do 'reasonably well most of the time.'"

And discipline. "The necessary outcome of strategic planning is not analytical insight but resolve."

And knowing when to say no. "Strategy is deciding whose business you are going to turn away."

Maister covers the gamut, from building ownership and accountability in the strategy (consequences for non-compliance), avoiding temptation, creating rules to live by, clarifying expectations and roles for leaders and overcoming obstacles that I have seen leaders struggle with over the years.
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34 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Dewitt on January 3, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Length: 6:24 Mins
A look inside what will likely be the best business book of 2008. David Maister has collected decades of experience into what may be seen as the ultimate management BS detector. He shreds fads and provides common sense advice to people who are serious about improving leadership, management, and customer relationship capabilities. We'll look at each section and the content and format that makes this book so special.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Michael P. Maslanka on January 21, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Maister gets a lot right: appeal to an employee's own needs, not the greater corporate good(more work, less support makes for a bad rallying cry); embrace a relationship mentality in business deverlopment not a transaction on(as he bluntly puts it, go for romance and not a one night stand although many talk the first but do the second); understand that all can be rainmakers if you speak to their needs and intererests first with the money a nice side benefit, a consequence and not a motivator. His chapter on law firms is disheartening.He says that they are so different from other PSFs that they need their own chapter. His analysis:"(law firms are made up of)bands of warlords,each with his or her followers,ruling over a group of cowed citizens and acting in temporary alliance---until a better opportunity comes along." Beacuse of billing pressures, he says many partners hoard the work that needs to be pressed down. A final point, and one I disagree with---he seems to suggest that PSFs must only cater to the elite clients and there is no room for commodity work. Yet it is the commodity work which trains newer employees and, at times, fills in the dry periods between the more margin filled engagements.
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Format: Hardcover
It's a new year and you want to lose weight. You know what to do. Odds are, however, that you will not do it.

So it goes with professional service firms strategies. Every firm knows what to do but they just don't do it. Why? Because they aren't sick. Once they have that first heart attack things will change.

That is the central point David makes in this great book. He makes the point simply and effectively and this is a must read for every person who lives by the billable hour.

Heads of firms should skip straight to the chapter titled "The Chief Executive's Speech." Take it, put it on some note cards and give it the next beginning of the fiscal year all-hands meeting. This is what you should be saying instead of the things you've been saying before.

I hope to hear that some firm has ditched their current strategy and replaced it with David's. That firm will make more money than their competition.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Douglas Haider on March 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This book is a collection of Maister articles. It's central message is that people often know *what* they should be doing, and even *how* to do it, but they often don't due to a lack of internal discipline.

Honestly, I preferred his other books "Managing the Professional Service Firm" and "The Trusted Advisor" over this one.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Brad Shorr on April 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Although Maister is writing for and about professional services companies, I think his ideas about strategy apply to almost any type of business. The "Fat Smoker" analogy is memorable, and it means that we don't always do what we know is good for us, even when it comes to running a business. In order to achieve great results, we have to break the old habits that have kept us in the same old ruts. Most of the book concentrates on ways we can develop the right attitude toward our own work, interact more effectively with co-workers, and build inspired, cohesive organizations. For some people, this book will be like preaching to the converted. But for business leaders and professionals who think the individual is more important that the organization, or who lead by intimidation, it will be a challenging read. Although Maister has an easy to read style, there is nothing easy about his ideas. He shares great wisdom obviously the result of long years grappling with organizational problems at a high level.
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