Proposed Firm of the Future Symposium

Based on the success of the session at Insights on the same topic, we (Sage) are looking at delivering a Firm of the Future Symposium in Dallas on August 23-24.

This experience is dedicated to the possibility that a professional organization can be run more effectively when it becomes a knowledge firm rather than a service firm. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone as it requires partners to think differently than they have in the past about what it is that they do.

The symposium will feature Ron Baker of the VeraSage Institute, Rob Johnson and myself from Sage and an as yet undetermined industry analyst. It will be held in Dallas at the Hilton DFW Lakes on August 23-24. The price is $3,500 for two people from your organization (or guest if you so choose, there is no price for one person only). Additional attendees are $1,000. If you are a Sage Select Partner, the first two attendees are free. You must pay hotel and airfare.

If you know for sure that you can make it, please let me know. In addition, please comment and submit thoughts and even proposed changes to the agenda! You can always email me at ed *dot* kless @

Tentative Agenda (This is subject to change)



Day 1, 7:15am


Day 1, 8:00am

Welcome and introductions

Day 1, 9:00am

Foundational information

  • How v. What matters
  • Peter Drucker’s knowledge worker
  • Dialogue on value

Day 1, 10:30am

The tale of two equations

  • The Professional Service Firm
  • The Professional Knowledge Firm

Day 1, noon


Day 1, 1:00pm

From Revenue to Profit Workshops

  • Where does profit come from?
  • Managing cash flow
  • How the SaaS model effects profit

Day 1, 3:00pm

From Capacity to Capital Workshops I

  • Managing financial and structural capital
  • Developing intellectual capital (Using the knowledge matrix)
  • Conducting an after action review

Day 1, 6:00pm


Day 1, 7:00pm

From Capacity to Capital Workshops II

  • Developing social capital (Building community with employees, customers, vendors, and stakeholders)
  • Creating a Results-only Work Environment
  • Developing a knowledge-firm compensation system

Day 2, 7:15am


Day 2, 8:00am

From Efficiency to Effectiveness Workshops

  • Developing and using key predictive indicators (Net Promoter, HSDs)
  • Leadership Development
  • Scope Development Issue List Management

Day 2, noon


Day 2, 1:00pm

From Cost-plus to Pricing on Purpose Workshops

  • Pricing a small engagement for current customer
  • Pricing a large engagement for a new customer
  • Using a TIP clause

Day 2, 3:30pm

Wrap up and depart for home by 4:00pm

5 thoughts on “Proposed Firm of the Future Symposium

  1. Great idea!

    Here are my suggestions:

    1. I think having some prerequisites are appropriate:
    * An appropriate attendee is someone who is a true agent of change at their company.
    * Attend Sage Consulting Academy
    * Reading list (Block, Baker, Drucker, Ressler/Thompson, Maister, Weiss and others)
    * Commitment to fixed price projects
    * Willingness on everyone’s part to actively contribute – this is not a lecture series
    * Set aside competitive differences
    * Bring ideas (lots of them)
    * Provide case studies

    2. Topics to add to the list:
    * Pricing strategies
    # Improving our “getting to value” skills
    # Becoming a TIP firm
    * Compensation plans
    * The accelerant curve
    * Productizing our businesses
    * Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE)

  2. Love this idea – though not sure it matches with my summer vacation schedule.


    As someone who attended the Insights Session I’m excited to see this one proposed because the topic at Insights was both well received and timely.

    WRT to the agenda —

    Speaking for me personally I am struggling more with the tactics (being efficient) for quoting existing clients on upgrades and small engagements. Just a hunch but I suspect a lot of people new to fixed pricing are getting hung up there as well.

    I’m not sure I’m thrilled to see the portion of the agenda that seems to deal with that issue scheduled in “the death zone” of after lunch on the final day.

    I’ve been to my share of conferences and even if I scheduled a plane departure for day 3 I know from experience that half the attendees usually don’t.

    Having worked fixed pricing for clients for the last 6 months to a year I’m finding that some of the hardest work is not the why but the how.

    How to get fixed pricing to be on auto-pilot so you aren’t spending 5 hours to quote, spec, and get a client to agree to a $500 engagement. Some may laugh at this but once you wade in you find an overwhelming amount of pre-engagement work that goes along with almost any fixed cost proposal.

    That doesn’t even cover what in my experience is the biggest problem with the fixed pricing and that’s making sure you don’t run around being super busy generating quotes that clients ultimately reject as not in their budget.

    While we’d all like to fantasize about $15,000 recurring upgrade engagements — just like in basketball most of the success is from making the unglamorous layup (tiny engagement) time and time again. When you can make that shot with your eyes closed is when you really start to become successful…

    I would also like to see a topic centered around using subcontractors for fixed price work. I’m learning that is an entirely new issue that’s somewhat distinct from using employees whose time is essentially a sunk cost.


  3. For those of us just beginning and the bank accounts to show, how can we develop the knowledge you propose will be transferred at this symposium at a fraction of the cost? I will gladly replace cash with effort for future rewards if you can set me in the right direction.

  4. This is such a fabulous idea. I can understand the concern related to the investment for this Symposium. I will say that I attended the session at Insights, as well as a few other sessions that Ed lead. He gets you thinking in such a different way.

    I thought this was such a great session. My only issue with the discussion is that it ended so quickly.

    I feel that Cloud/Saas computing makes it an even more viable discussion. We need to be KNOWLEDGEABLE resources in order to continue to be a resource to current and future clients. The services and support that we provide is changing. We need to prepare our teams for this next type of customer need.

    I very much agree with the one statement above, “Willingness on everyone’s part to actively contribute – this is not a lecture series”. This is true of all of Ed’s sessions. If you do not come with an open mind and a willingness to participate you will be frustrated and disappointed. On the positive side of this comment, from someone who was not an advocate of these types of sessions, once I opened my mind and began to actively participate, they have been invaluable for what we are trying to accomplish.

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