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

4.5 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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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 (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #143,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I first saw this title, I was inclined to think that the author had intended the phrase "fat smoker" to be an oxymoron, because at least in my experience, there are very few smokers who are overweight. But after reading what Maister has to share in his most recent effort (see my reviews for some of his other texts, such as "Managing the Professional Service Firm", "First Among Equals: How to Manage a Group of Professionals", and "The Trusted Advisor"), I came to realize that he was describing himself.

In setting the stage, Maister notes in the first chapter that "many change efforts are based on the assumption that all you have to do is explain to people that their lives could be better, convince them that the goals are worth going for, and show them how to do it. But this assumption is patently false. If it were true, there would be no drug addicts, no alcoholics, or bad marriages in the world. 'Oh, I see, this behavior's not good for me? Ah well then, I'll stop, of course!' What nonsense!"

"And yet strategic plans and annual speeches by CEOs, managing partners, management consultants, and others continue to adopt this same useless structure: 'Look at how fabulous it would be if you were a fit, nonsmoking exerciser, David!' My usual response? 'True, but please shut up and go away.'" Later, the author follows up by drawing a parallel between the reasons for his sudden move to stop smoking, start exercising, and losing weight, and how change often finally comes about in the business world.

"We all know the main thing that works: a major crisis! If revenues drop off sharply, it's amazing how quickly businesses can act to deal with known inefficiencies and bad habits they could have tackled years ago.
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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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