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Self Evaluation: Response to Bakers Common Struggles in Firms, The Changing Role of the Principal

For the next three posts, Ill be doing an evaluation of Newfangled in response to David Bakers position paper entitled Common Struggles in Firms. All of Davids position papers can be downloaded from his site. You have to register to download the papers, but they are well worth it and the registration/dl process is a breeze. The firm that built this site really did a great job with this aspect of it :).

First Struggle
The first thing most principals struggle with is their own personal role, especially if the firm is growing.

This has certainly been the case with me. One of the most cherished aspects of my career with Newfangled is that I have had the rare opportunity to do so many of the jobs here. Ive tried my hand at just about every role weve had, except design (actually, I was recently laughed out of the room by Chris and Justin for a design idea I had). It is a curse and a blessing that Ive thoroughly enjoyed all of my roles here over the years.

Each time Ive needed to step up to the next level of service to Newfangled, Ive lamented the loss of the real joys and comforts of the role I was currently in. The allure and excitement of the new role always trumped my nostalgic leanings, though. Even to this day, I really miss prototyping and growing deep relationships with the clients I used to manage. That being said, shedding the roles that Ive occupied over the years has clearly all been for the best. I am able to have more impact on all of our clients now than I did when I was personally managing every account. I also recognize that this journey is not over.

In addition to running the firm, I am currently our sales department and marketing department. If we choose to take the next growth step, to a 25-30 person firm, I am going to have to shed those roles, too – and that is probably going to be the toughest transition Ive had. I suppose that is a rule though, as the firm grows and youre required to move farther and farther away from the real work, it gets more and more difficult to do so. My sales role is my main way of interfacing with our clients and clients-to-be, and I love it. Losing the personal connection and the control that I enjoy in this role is going to be extraordinarily difficult. Maybe well choose to grow, and Ill have to make the break, but maybe we wont. The important thing is that I know that if we do, I have to.

The principal being willing to go through these changes is one thing, but many of the employees have to do this throughout a companys growth stages as well. Im curious to know, what have your experiences been with this?

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