Published: 21/09/2015
ISBN: 9781785891076
eISBN: 9781780888507
Format: Paperback/eBook



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Fiona Westwood graduated LLB (Hons) from Glasgow University in 1974 and became an enrolled solicitor with the Law Society of Scotland in 1976. During her professional career as a solicitor which span... read more

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Accelerated Best Practice (2nd ed)
Implementing Success in Professional Firms
by Fiona Westwood

All professionals are under pressure to implement change. They face increased competition and external regulations. Their clients have become more demanding and critical. Quality work is at a premium with senior people moving between organisations. Professional service firms must find a way to respond positively to these pressures. Success stems from developing the ability to take control and make change happen.

Professionals are trained to analyse and debate, rather than decide and act. Implementation and speed of response within professional firms remains a key problem as ongoing confusion over ownership and consensus frustrates change.

Whilst there are many management books focusing on strategic change, few tackle change in an applied way and even fewer, in the context of professionals. This book provides practical tools and techniques for professionals, enabling them to harness their intellect and energy to achieve buy-in and commitment to change.

Accelerated Best Practice is based on current research into successful professional organisations. It develops five key elements that build into a Model for Success. These include operational management, strategic leadership, structure, client and people development.

Key Benefits
• Allows readers to implement strategic and operational change quickly and successfully
• Shows professional service firms why change is necessary, how to diagnose problems and identify corrective action
• Succinct and practical help based on contemporary research
• Includes case studies, applied techniques and tools to put theory into practice.

Previously published by Palgrave Macmillan.

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Why I wrote the book
Accelerated Best Practice – implementing success in professional firms
My first book, ‘Achieving Best Practice – Shaping Professionals for Success’ (McGraw-Hill, 2001) grew out of my frustrations with being part of the management team of a professional service partnership. We had found it increasingly difficult as the marketplace affected us to source support that was directly relevant to the challenges we were facing in running a business that had also to reflect our professional values. Frustrated by this lack of practical help, I resolved to write my own book to provide answers to the challenges of managing a professional firm. Once I moved full-time into management consultancy, I supplemented my own experience with detailed research into why some firms were growing and successful in the same market as others who were dying. As a result, I devised the Model for Success for professional service firms.

That was in the year 2000. Eight years on, the Model has been applied in a wide range of professional organisations. It has been adapted and improved. This second book encapsulates the results of those applications and provides the ‘accelerated’ Model for use in ambitious firms who want to change and change fast. It provides a holistic view of a professional firm, looking at its internal workings and external focus. Its Segments encompass leadership and management, strategy and processes and provide practical techniques and solutions. They build into a complete circle of understanding of professional management and its application, and deliver the ability to change which is so vitally needed in today’s marketplace.

Developing Resilience – the key to professional success
In recent years, I have seen good professionals and their organisations struggle with the sudden and rapid change that the marketplace has imposed upon them. Some seemed to be more resilient to this than others, so I set myself the task of working out why this was the case. I found that successful organisations allowed their professionals to self-manage as much as possible. I noticed that good professionals needed more help with developing personal resilience than people who did not care about the quality of what they did. The very fact that good professionals took personal responsibility meant that they were likely to be upset by an error of judgement or making a mistake. This often had a cumulative effect on their confidence, with the result that they were more likely in the future to question what they did and the career choice they had made.

I had also begun to think about the longitudinal aspects of learning how to be a good professional and my own early experiences of being a novice in my profession. My work in vocational education led me to observe that some students were ‘naturally good’ practitioners and seemed to have an inherent resilience and ability to self-manage and motivate. When I saw them again in practice, they were enjoying their formal traineeship and making the most of their work-based learning opportunities. This, in turn, caused me to observe the impact that great masters can have in showing younger professionals how to acquire good judgement and learn how to progress in their careers.

As a result, I set to write this book blending all of my experiences with the aim of offering practical advice about how to first, cope with and, secondly and more aspirationally, succeed in professional practice. What I hope makes this book important and unique is that it sets the development of resilience in the context of professional practice - the messy, difficult, challenging lifelong career that good professionals believe in and care about, and reflects the essence of what we are.

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