Aligning the Stars

  • Title: Aligning the Stars
  • Author: Jay W. Lorsch, Thomas J. Tierney
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard Business School Press; 1st edition (April 26, 2002)
  • ISBN: 1578515130

This book is about how to align top performers in a professional services company.

The PSF (Professional Services Firm) business model is based on helping the client make money, not making the client happy with each transaction. Having the client return for business again and again reduces risk and cost for doing business for PSFs. In the best of cases, a mutual dependancy develops between the two.

Members of a PSF play three roles: Owner, Producer, and Manager.The success of a given PSF is dependent upon how the PSF can cause the members to put the firm’s interests ahead of self-interest. PSFs depend upon stars – these are the people that can produce for clients, make clients satisfied in the long term, and bring in new business. The key to the success of a PSF is gathering and keeping star talent.

PSFs differentiate among themselves to compete in the marketplace. Many use economies of scale as a competitive tool, but that’s not always useful to the client.

A good deal of this book talks about how important it is to treat stars properly, and what stars expect for treatment.

Near the end, a list of leadership best practices is provided:

  1. Prioritization Acting ahead
  2. Personal pacing
  3. Devouring feedback
  4. Learning
  5. Recharging
  6. Being a player/coach
  7. Addressing one’s “use by” date

Taken together, these represent important qualities a good leader in a PSF will have.

This was a good, quick read and has a lot of useful information inside.


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