The Partnership Model is Broken

We at VeraSage don’t have much respect for the status quo, and nowhere is this more true than with respect to the partnership model.

The main problem is summed up by Lady Thatcher: “Consensus is the negation of leadership.” Is there a better example of a consensus model than a partnership? Most firms are over-managed and under-led, with every trivial decision requiring unanimity. It’s the equivalent of having 10 CEOs. If everyone is responsible for decisions, no one is—what economists call the tragedy of the commons.

To make matters worse, managing partners in most firms are still responsible for billable hours—in fact, they may have the highest in the firm—rather than having only one customer, the firm itself. This is the equivalent of Jack Welch working side-by-side with the mechanics building airplane engines. Is that a buy or sell signal?

VeraSage Institute Fellow Chris Marston has three excellent posts on his blog, which detail the deleterious effects of the partnership model. It is a topic VeraSage is passionately and diligently working on—that is, a new governance model for the Professional Knowledge Firm of the Future.

Chris’ first post is “Dilution By Consensus of the Clueless—The Partnership Dilemma,” from October 15, 2006, whereby he lights a candle in the darkness and sheds light on the major problem with the Old Model.

His second post is from November 6, 2006, “Apathy Abounds, Until The Walls Come Tumbling Down,” and finally his post from November 13th, “Kids With Candy Bags and Financial Transparency.”

These posts are an excellent contribution to what’s wrong with the partnership theory, and they will inevitably lead to a better model. Excellent work, Chris.

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