How A Professional Services Firm Operates

A typical professional service firm operates under the standard “pyramid” type of operating structure:

  • At the bottom of the pyramid are the “grinders”–those accountants, consultants, lawyers,whatever, who are employed by the firm to “grind” out the work.
  • In the middle of the pyramid are the “minders”–those mid-level managers who are employed by the firm to “mind” the “grinders”, ensuring (hopefully) that the work is getting done on time and for budget.
  • At the top of the pyramid, theoretically, are the “finders”–those rarefied individuals who “find” the work for the “minders” and “grinders” to do.

But the most important people in a professional services firm, in my opinion, are not within the pyramid, but surround it. They are the “binders”–those highly unique and all too rare individuals who can federate (and that is the correct word) all of the disparate interests and egos in a professional services firm, and move them along a predetermined path toward a clearly stated goal.

I have found all too few “binders” in my professional services career. It is an extremely difficult task, which most do very poorly, or just can’t do at all, in my opinion.

Maybe, it’s time for a different model on how to operate a professional services firm. I’m not certain that this one works anymore.

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