updated: 2002-06-20


Cover True Professionalism by David H. Maister.
Copyright 1997 by David H. Maister.
Printed by Simon & Schuster.

David H. Maister is a leading professional on the management of professional service firms. He has a consulting company that reaches many different areas of professional service. Through his experiences in his consulting company he was able to challenge many of the "normal" attitudes and expectations of professional firms. David's credits includes numerous articles and books; First Among Equals, Practice What You Preach, Managing the Professional Service Firm. David's True Professionalism sets out to acheive "The courage to care about your people, your clients, and your career."


Judging by the title of the book and the quote on the front there are three areas that the book will focus on. The first is 'your people' so this includes ways to help your employees or co-workers with their professional image. The second is 'your clients' which includes information about your clients satisfaction, selling to those clients, and determining need. The third is 'your career' so it includes information about managing people, types of people, and career strategies. The book does what it states in that there is a wide range of information being presented to the reader on all those different areas of professionalism.


The real reason why I picked up this book was to meet a requirement that I read it for my day job. It turned out to be better than I expected but I also had a different impression of what True Professionalism really is. My impression was of the standard calls to a client, updates to the client, email etiquette, voicemail etiquette, and phone etiquette. This book dispells the idea that to be professional all you have to do is 'be available' by demonstrating other items that should definitely be considered.

The 'your career' section of the book is first and covers developing a personal career strategy, time management, excitement, and ... There are lots of different things that need to be considered for 'your career' because they would not normally be considered required. This section talks about the appropriate way to give feedback to coworkers, development planning, and in depth time management. I have found this section to be very applicable to me now and would have been in the past as well. This section would actually be worth the money for the book in itself without the rest of the book. True Professionalism really demonstrates that professionals start with themselves and expand to those that are around them.

The 'your firm' section of the book is the second and covers teamwork, skill-building, profitablity, and ... This section starts off on a values discussion to ensure that values and rules that are stated are actually enforced. He states one of the problems with companies is that their culture is based on what they are willing to enforce instead of all their rules. He states that it is necessary to skill-build in the company, which is something the company I work for is currently working on. The largest part (for me) was the part about managing client projects and how to track those projects. It is stated and understood that in order to be successful the firm must critique projects. He is sure to mention that profit-and-loss statements should be done for each and every engagement with a client to ensure the firm is working optimally. For a few pages it is even discussed about when a merger will be effective and when it won't gain anything for either firm, this was insightful about why firms/corporations fail.

The 'your clients' section of the book is the last and covers cross-selling, client satisfaction, client desires, developing business, and ... Here is an interesting quote "If your clients aren't actively telling their friends about you, maybe your work (or, of course, service) isn't as great as you think it is". This quote made me think about the service that the group I work in povides to find out if they actually state to others that we provide a great service. This leads directly into another chapter in regards to gathering client input to find out what is desired and expected. He states that cross-selling doesn't work because it doesn't create value for the clients, just for yourself and your firm. This makes sense to me but I never thought about it that way until reading this section.


In general this book is very good. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in analyzing or developing their firm. It talks a lot about professional service firms but there is also a good number of items that apply to engineering firms as well. I was required to read this book for work but it still took only 10 nights or so to get through the 201 pages and to absorb what was being stated. It is a very good book and I would recommend it to all people in the 'professional' world.

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