Nothing Else to Do

I had a brief, but funny conversation with an attendee of the AICPA Tech+ Conference is Las Vegas earlier this week.

After moderating a panel entitled The Firm of the Future, he broached me during the coffee break and said, “You know, Ed, the funny thing about time and billing systems in many accounting firms is that they tend to collapse during the pressure of tax season. Of course, that is when we are the most profitable.”

I laughed, but he continued, “Sometimes I think we enter our time sheets during non-busy time because we have nothing else to do.”

Peter Drucker and Time Sheets

Recently, I have been plagued by people who claim Peter Drucker said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it.”

First, let me say that I cannot find this as a direct quote of Drucker’s other than continuous and unsubstantiated citations in many articles, blog posts, and PowerPoint presentations all over the Internet. If anyone has the direct knowledge of the book or published article wherein Drucker says these exact words, please let me know. Until such time, please do not attribute this quote to Drucker.

Second, in my research looking for this quote, I found the following:

Reports and procedures should be the tool of the man who fills them out. They must never themselves become the measure of his performance. A man must never be judged by the quality of the production forms he fills out – unless he be the clerk in change of these forms. He must always be judged by his production performance. And the only way to make sure of this it by have him fill out no forms, make no reports, expect those he need himself to achieve performance. – Peter Ferdinand Drucker, The Practice of Management, 1954, page 135.

All emphasis mine.

Does anyone now want to say that Peter Drucker would be in favor of submitted time sheets to measure productivity? I rest my case.

My Insights Sessions

Here are the sessions that I am facilitating or on a panel. Please note the the 4pm session on Tuesday is only open to folks who have already attended Value Pricing (now Pricing with Purpose) Boot Camp.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009
11:00 AM Governor’s B GEN12 – Issues List Management (or How to Replace Time Sheets With Something That Actually Matters to Your Customers)
2:15 PM Governor’s C GEN16 – Building Community: A New Paradigm
4:00 PM Bayou B GEN23 – For Value Pricing Boot Camp Alumni Only
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
8:15 AM Canal E GEN25 – Around Your Business in 60 Minutes
9:30 AM Governor’s C GEN28 – The Two A’s of Consulting: Authenticity and Altruism

Thursday, May 14, 2009

1:30 PM Presidential C&E GEN34 – Moving Toward the Firm of the Future
3:15 PM Presidential C&E GEN37 – The Last Roundup: So What and Who Cares?

Pricing is not pretty

Setting price is more art than science. It is often times messy business, but it is always an incredible exercise in creativity.

This video is presented tongue in check, but as those of you who have set price using pricing on purpose will see, it sure feels like this sometimes.

Enjoy!

Insights Session – Issues List Management

At Sage’s partner conference, Insights, I will be presenting a session entitled Issues List Management (or How to Replace Time Sheets With Something That Actually Matters to Your Customers) (GEN12)  on Tuesday, May 12th at 11:00am.

In order to begin the conversation even before the conference begins, I am posting the abstract and inviting all possible participants to share their ideas and questions.

This session will be dedicated to the possibility that a professional organization can be run more effectively when people do not have to account for every six minutes of their day. Creating such an organization is hard work and not for everyone. It requires us to think differently than we have in the past about what it is that we do. You are hereby invited to open a dialogue on a new model for measuring the success of a professional firm by Ed Kless and business partner John Shaver who will co-facilitate this session.

Let’s face it, documenting every six minutes of your day is unappealing to say the least, In fact, it is downright insulting. (And we wonder why so few young people want to come into this business.)

Getting rid of time sheets does not mean an end to administration. However, instead of efforts, we should track results. Tracking time is like tracking swings for a baseball or softball player. “He swings a lot, must be good.”

In order to prepare for our dialogue, please read this blog post from Ron Baker at the VeraSage Institute. If possible the related links would be great as well.

Also, please post thoughts, questions, comments below.

Insights Session – Moving Toward the Firm of the Future

At Sage’s partner conference, Insights, I will be presenting a session entitled Moving Toward the Firm of the Future (GEN34) on Thursday at 1:30pm.

In order to begin the conversation even before the conference begins, I am posting the abstract and inviting all possible participants to share their ideas and questions.

Peter Drucker coined the term knowledge worker in the 1950s, but we are only beginning to understand the impact of the transformation on business and society as a whole. This session, delivered by Ed Kless, will walk you through the transformation that you company needs to make from being a professional service firm to becoming a professional knowledge firm. If you are not interested in completely changing the way you look at your business, please do not attend.

Most professional service firms today operate using a variation on the following theoretical equation: Revenue = Capacity X Efficiency X Hourly Billing. This equation is hopelessly flawed in that it confuses causes and effects.

In this session we will create a dialogue around moving to the firm of the future or what I like to call a professional knowledge firm. The theoretical equation for this firm looks like this: Profitability = Intellectual Capital X Effectiveness X Pricing with Purpose.

Specifically, we will have conversations about making the following transitions:

  • From focusing on revenue to focusing on profitability
  • From focusing on capacity to focusing on intellectual capital
  • From focusing on efficiency to focusing on effectiveness
  • From focusing on hourly billing to pricing with purpose

While there are no quick fix answers to any of these transitions, we can begin to lay the foundation for change within our organizations. In order to prepare for our dialogue, please spend some time reading at the VeraSage Institute.

Also, please post thoughts, questions, comments below.