There were indications at the recent Winning is Everything Conference, presented by The Advisory Board of a growing trend. It is a change in the business model being employed by a number of firms.

Troy Waugh, president of The Rainmaker Academy, refers to it as the one firm organization. The firm is run more like a corporation, where the managing partner is operating as a CEO, making many decisions previously reserved for a partner committee. These firms generally employ a shortened name that acts as a brand, rather than using a litany of partner's names then indicates a confederation of individuals. The idea is clients are the firm's clients, rather than the individual partner's.

Bruce Malott, principal of Meyners + Company in Albuquerque, New Mexico, speaking at a Re-Engineering Your Firm panel, indicates that his firm has adopted the one-firm concept and eliminated its existing book-of-business concept to compensation. It is a team approach, where the idea is for the clients to identify with the firm rather than the partner. This approach is also evident in the firm management and administration. For example, there are monthly billing meeting where billing for all work in progress is discussed among all the billers. Proposed writedowns are openly questioned and no longer controlled by those billing the service.

Gary Boomer, CEO of Boomer Consulting, also a member of The Advisory Board, did a session on the balanced scorecard now being used by a number of firms to determine performance compensation. An individual's book of business is just one of the many components that are considered in arriving at the ultimate compensation.

No, I am not trumpeting the death of the book-of business measurement, but commenting on a significant change in its role and importance of it. Partners that view the clients they work on or brought into the firm as theirs, something to be protected from contact with partners and staff they don't control, will run into trouble with the firm management. You will be seeing the firm's upper management taking a more active role in offering clients the various services available from the firm, no longer waiting for the partner managing that client to cross sell services.

Another outgrowth will be that firm management will be spending more time evaluating staff and partners to see how they fit into this business model which in turn should result in less desperation hiring and the jettisoning of some partners.

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