By Jay W. Lorsch Thomas J. Tierney
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Additional resources for Aligning the Stars
S. 7 Growth industries also attract capital. The boom in mergers and acquisitions (M&A) activity is telling. This trend indicates just how aggressively professional firms are investing to strengthen their competitive positions and penetrate new market segments and geographies. Price Waterhouse merged with Coopers & Lybrand. Alex Brown, America’s oldest investment bank, was acquired by Bankers Trust—which in turn was acquired by Deutsche Bank. The consulting arm of Ernst & Young was sold to Cap Gemini.
Bureaucratic or entrepreneurial? Furthermore, which individuals in those client businesses are the buyers with whom the firm can realistically hope to forge a relationship? Are they junior or senior? Line or staff? At the corporate center or in the field? Conservative or risk takers? How many of them will be involved in the decision? These client-related questions lead directly to issues of geographic strategy. To what extent can or should a firm remain local? Or national? What level of presence is required to compete effectively in large markets like the United States or Germany?
Firms that attract and retain the best people and motivate them to build enduring client relationships, put the firm first, and follow through on strategic imperatives are the firms that ultimately win. Not Just People, But Stars “People are our most important asset” is a hackneyed phrase in business. ” Why? Because important as a company’s people are, they are usually somewhat expendable. The reason is simple. In most businesses a company’s competitive advantage does not rely directly on the retention, motivation, and behavior of particular individuals.