Magazine article New Zealand Management

First among Equals-How to Manage a Group of Professionals

Magazine article New Zealand Management

First among Equals-How to Manage a Group of Professionals

Article excerpt

By: Patrick J McKenna and David H Maister Publisher: Simon & Shuster Free Press Price: $65

Professional firms and firms of professionals are all turning to it. Professional management I mean. But, as one very good friend who manages a professional practice said to me recently: "It's a bit like herding cats."

Cat herding advisers Patrick McKenna and David Maister believe they know some of the secrets to successfully mustering groups of professionals and they reveal them in their new, jointly-authored book First Among Equals. McKenna used the phrase, "herding cats", as the title to his 1995 handbook for managing partners and practice leaders so the analogy is internationally commonplace.

It took a long time for professional partnerships in particular to recognise they needed good management to be truly effective, at least in New Zealand. And while they might, however reluctantly, now acknowledge the value of the contribution, professional people inside service firms or corporations, are "notoriously averse to being managed", according to the authors. "They are cynical, savvy and selective."

Managing groups of professionals will become more, not less, important and widespread. Engineers, software developers, architects, lawyers, accountants and the like are all careers on the increase. …

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