"Leading Firms: How Great Professional Service Firms Succeed & How Your Firm Can Too" Released Today by Select Books

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Axiom Consulting Partners’ David Kuhlman writes about how accounting, consulting and law firms can become best-in-class. A comprehensive guide, based on Kuhlman's 25 years of experience, "Leading Firms" offers insights on the unique dynamics of managing a professional service firms and how to rise above the competition.

From strategy to talent development and from growth to delivering on profitability, Dave has chartered a course for all leaders of professional service firms to follow. – Stephen Chipman, CEO, Grant Thornton LLP.

In his new book, "Leading Firms: How Great Professional Service Firms Succeed & How Your Firm Can Too" (Select Books), author David Kuhlman provides candid and practical advice to professional firms on what they can do to thrive in all times, in all economies and in all markets.

Kuhlman, a long-time advisor to leading firms on issues ranging from strategy and organization structure to compensation and partnership agreements, digs deep beneath conventional wisdom about what makes a firm successful and uncovers fresh, actionable insights about the issues that matter most to professional service firms.

"Leading Firms" is divided into three main parts. In “The Foundations of Success,” Kuhlman writes about developing an effective strategy, sustaining profitability and delivering high quality client service.

“Differentiating Capabilities That Separate Good Firms From Great Ones,” the second major section, focuses on the capabilities that great firms possess as opposed to firms that are just merely "good." These capabilities include having a powerful growth engine, using brand synergy to create differentiation in “me-too” markets, creating the right talent model and operating in a “performance envelope” where firms do their best and most profitable work.

The third section, “Practices that Create a High-Performing Culture,” examines the practices and values necessary to nourish the growth of superior talent while balancing the demands of successfully managing client relationships and high expectations.

Among Kuhlman’s observations:

On Strategy: “It is important to have a good strategy and implement it well but the best strategy perfectly implemented will not by itself create enduring success. The differentiating characteristics that a traditional strategy provides are either too easily reproducible (e.g., in terms of market messages or methodologies, for example) or too dominant, like establishing shared resource centers in India or outsourcing businesses.”

On Professional Discipline: “Certain core professional disciplines simply have to be in place for the firm to even have the ability to compete – and when they break down, these disciplines distract and sap energy away from more important matters.”

On Differentiating Capability: “The firm’s key capabilities are the only true basis for differentiation in a world where offerings are similar and talent comes from the same pool.”

On a High-Performing Culture: “Firms that keep their principals aligned with each other and with the direction of the firm and firms that have a sense of stewardship are generally stronger. Firms that stay true to their roots even as they evolve are stronger still.”

Praise for "Leading Firms"

“From strategy to talent development and from growth to delivering on profitability, Dave has chartered a course for all leaders of professional service firms to follow.” – Stephen Chipman, CEO, Grant Thornton LLP.

“The concepts in Leading Firms provide an exceptional road map to business success. A very practical how-to with many experiential insights to help smooth over the challenges and hurdles we all face with professional service firms.” – Joe Adams, Managing Partner & CEO, McGladrey.

“Leading Firms both validates the challenges of running a modern-day professional services firm and provides pragmatic, thoughtful and essential strategies for dissecting those issues and maximizing long-term competitive advantage.” – Julie Howard, CEO, Navigant.

An essential read for leaders in professional services. An insightful guide for designing an enduring business. – Scott MacDonald, President, Oliver Wyman.

About the Author

David Kuhlman is a partner at Axiom Consulting Partners. He has worked with many of the world’s leading professional service firms, including almost half of the nation’s largest accounting firms, several “Big 4” firms, leading strategy consulting firms and a variety of specialty consulting firms. Prior to joining Axiom Consulting Partners, Kuhlman held a variety of senior management positions at Sibson Consulting and Russell Reynolds Associates.

About Axiom Consulting Partners
Axiom Consulting Partners works side-by-side with leaders to deliver pragmatic solutions that drive results. Our services help clients clarify strategy, focus on the highest priority sources of value and align their capabilities, processes and people to deliver sustainable, profitable growth. We always look at a client’s challenges through the lenses of business strategy, organization design and talent management – it’s why they choose us over firms that operate in just one of these disciplines.

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