Professional Service Firm Governance: Five Things the Management Team and Board Must Do to Work Well Together
Dave Wedding, Chairman, Partnership Board and Managing Partner, Mid-South Market Territory at Grant Thornton LLP, and Mark Masson, a Principal, Axiom Consulting Partners, co-authored this whitepaper that explains why and how boards and management teams at professional service firms can work better together to sustain momentum and drive profitable growth.
“Too often boards and management teams at firms see each other as hurdles to be cleared. Power politics and a long list of initiatives get in the way and hold down results. Here’s how the board and management team can work together better to sustain growth:
• Determine and then live by who makes what decisions, why and in what time frame.
• Engage the broader partnership.
• Develop a shared view of the most critical strategic priorities for both the board and management.
• Leverage strengths and set clear expectations (of each other).
• Speak and act with one voice.”
Dave and Mark conclude: “Governance takes more than what is on the surface to successfully lead and sustain a firm’s momentum. Even the most gifted leaders often find the challenge of driving change difficult. Tuning the hard code and soft code of governance to get, and keep, the board and management team working together effectively for the partnership pays real business dividends.”
Accounting Today (8/30/16) features a high-level article on governance by Dave and Mark that summarizes many of the points in the whitepaper:
“Nobody likes a back-seat driver, and nobody feels safe when the two people in the front seat are arguing about every element of a road trip. The same is true in a partnership. When management and the board disagree on direction, managing growth or any other key decision, the entire organization is at risk. Partners feel unsafe…This is particularly true in accounting firms and other partnerships. Power struggles abound. Managers and directors sometimes view each other as hurdles to be cleared —and they keep information from each other. Issues of pricing, client acquisition or talent management get ignored, and ultimately, overall growth suffers.