How's Your Asset?

I seem to recall from 4th grade Civics class that the State of the Union speech was originally intended to be an annual report from the nation's chief executive to the legislative branch on the health of the nation. How many of us could benefit from having to provide a similar report on the state of our careers?

David Maister is, in Spooky Action's opinion, THE guru of professional service firms. His book Managing the Professional Service Firm is the definitive text on doing just what the name says for firms in a myriad of industries and of all sizes.

In 1991 he wrote an article entitled How's Your Asset:

"Professionals get paid for their time, but that's not what we sell. We sell knowledge and skill. . . .Left untended, knowledge and skill, like all assets, depreciate in value - surprisingly quickly."

At the end of my first full year as a management consultant, at the age of 39, I decided to take stock. How healthy was my career? I quickly discovered a disturbing paradox. My income statement was fantastic, but my balance sheet was deteriorating so badly I was in danger of ruining my career, i.e. going out of business.

He tells a great story about why his balance sheet was out of whack and the steps he took to get it back on track. It's interesting to see the thoughts from the 1991 article show up (more refined and defined) in his later books and articles. He offers some very cogent advice for any professional on keeping the value of their services high and growing. If you are in the services business, or any type of knowledge worker, you would do well to ask yourself the self-assessment questions he poses at the end of the article on a regular basis. You may not get to take the podium in the House of Representatives (with Denny the Travelocity gnome seated behind you), but you will like the what you have to say!

posted by Mike at 4:37 AM


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