Monday, March 13th, 2023

Decide Who Will Decide

“It is not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are.” – Roy Disney

When your firm was first founded, probably one, two, or three partners (owners) made all the decisions. Somehow, as the ranks of partners grew, all partners thought that they should be part of every decision.

Think of all the revenue-producing time that was wasted. That’s one reason why the role of firm administrator was created, and the joke that resulted was, “How many partners does it take to decide which printer to buy?”   

The intent of the role of the firm administrator was that administrative and operational aspects of the CPA firm would be better handled by someone solely focused on firm administration and operations. Still, many partners thought that they should be allowed to have an opinion and weigh in on the decision to buy anything that cost more than $100!  

That decision-making format where every partner had a say lasted until the firm had about ten partners. Then an Executive Committee was formed consisting of 3 or 5 partners who still thought they should be involved in daily operations.  

Progressive firms decided that the Managing Partner should actually manage the firm with a chief-of-staff type person – the firm administrator, practice manager, or COO. Of course, owners are kept informed, but their job is to take care of client relationships, attract and mentor younger staff and bring in business.  

In my consulting work, I observe so many firms where group decision-making still thrives. In reality, what really happens is that the group cannot decide, so important decisions are delayed year after year. Not making a decision becomes a decision.  

Is it time for your firm to actually operate like a business? Is it time for your owners to “decide who will decide”?  

  • "Decision is a sharp knife that cuts clean and straight; indecision, a dull one that hacks and tears and leaves ragged edges behind it."
  • Gordon Graham

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