David Maister - Professional Business, Professional Life
David’s ResourcesAbout David
NEW! Browse my materials by topic of interest:StrategyManagingClient RelationsCareersGeneral

Passion, People and Principles

Broadly Admired Firms

post # 419 — August 17, 2007 — a Strategy and the Fat Smoker post

In my forthcoming book (STRATEGY AND THE FAT SMOKER), I revisit the “One-firm Firms” that I first wrote about in 1985.

It’s one of the few articles I have ever written that actually names the names of specific firms. Normally, I try to avoid doing that, because I don’t want to be accused of playing favorites.

However, people might be interested in how I came up with the list of specific firms to write about.

Back then, I went to every firm I was working with and asked “Who’s number two to YOU? I know YOU’RE the best, but – apart from yourselves, who do is the best managed firm in your industry?” I wanted to see if, ego apart, there would be a consensus within each industry as to who the leading firm was.

In some (not all) industries / professions, there was indeed a consensus or close to one. The same firms kept getting named again and again. They were (back then):

McKinsey in strategy consulting

Hewitt Associates in HR consulting

Goldman Sachs in Investment Banking

Arthur Andersen (now Accenture) in accounting-based consulting services

Latham and Watkins in law.

Note that my point is NOT that these were my nominations as best firms, but that the choices of those who had to compete with them.

Some of these firms have preserved their reputations in the eyes of their rivals, some not.

My question to you-all out there. Can we try to repeat the experiment on-line? In YOUR industry, who – apart from your own firm – would you nominate as the best managed firm in your industry? Who should we be looking to for lessons in how to manage a professional business?


Nagesh Belludi said:

Toyota in the automotive space. Their product design, manufacturing, service, marketing, leadership, quality and virtually all other capabilities are legendary.

Singapore Airlines and Southwest Airlines in the civil aviation sector. The iconic service-offering, simplicity, strategic decisions, industry-leadership are also legendary.

Every realm of business has its pacesetters. FedEx in logistics, Proctor and Gamble in FMCG, Hewlett Packard in instrumentation, printing and imaging, Sony and Apple in electronics, Walt Disney in entertainment, etc. The profiles of companies that set the standards in their industries and attract customer/consumer loyalty are exceptionally inspiring to organisations of any size and domain.

posted on August 17, 2007

Skylark said:

I used to work in the Technology consulting industry before deciding to get back to school for my masters in Business Admn. In Technology consulting, (where we have the likes of Accenture , BEaringPoint, IBM Global,CapGemini), I believe Accenture is the best currently. Accenture is effectively utilizing ‘s management Consulting practice to generate enough downstream Technology consulting/outsourcing business.

posted on August 19, 2007