About David Dworin

David Dworin has spent over a decade helping professional services firms to grow and scale their businesses by developing and implementing strategies that are resilient to change.

Can Doers Sell?

Most of us didn't become consultants, lawyers, coaches, marketers, or accountants, only to become sales people. We went into the field because we enjoy the work, the problems we get to solve, and the relationships we form with clients.  And yet at most firms, business development is squarely the responsibility of senior level practitioners.  There's a disconnect which leads to an obvious question: can we really expect doers to sell? Doers Must Sell To a [...]

By |2016-11-10T10:20:07-05:00August 19th, 2016|Relationships|

Do Professional Services Firms Have Legacy Costs?

When we talk about legacy costs, we usually think about aging capital-intensive industries. Car manufacturers have legacy platforms, facilities, processes, or healthcare costs. Airlines have legacy contracts, aging aircraft, or route networks. We assume that professional services firms can't have legacy costs: there's no fixed capital, and the people involved are smart, dynamic thinkers. But as I look around, nearly every firm I've worked with, from scrappy start-ups to large multi-nationals, has some sort of [...]

By |2016-11-10T10:20:07-05:00August 11th, 2016|Strategy|

The Three Mindset Barriers to Business Development

In my work coaching professionals around business development, I've found that there are usually three reasons people turn to a coach: 1. Skills When you make partner, your job fundamentally changes: you're expected to bring in business, not just work on it. But most firms do a poor job preparing associates or managers to become partners, and as such, they enter the role without a clear idea about how to develop business. There's a skill [...]

By |2016-11-10T10:20:07-05:00August 9th, 2016|Relationships|

To Bid or Not To Bid? Four Questions To Ask Yourself Before You Prepare a Proposal

The days when clients would engage you to conduct an assessment as part of a 'paid selling opportunity' are long over. Instead, clients want you to spend your own time to understand their problem and propose how to solve it. Further, preparing a competitive RFP response requires senior practitioners to spend hours gathering information, responding to questions, and checking for referrals and conflicts. As one client put it: You do a third of the work [...]

By |2016-11-10T10:20:07-05:00July 28th, 2016|Relationships|

What Tenzi Taught Me About Business Development

Earlier this week, my seven year old niece taught me how to play Tenzi, a simple dice game. In Tenzi, each player gets ten six-sided dice and has to get all of them to show the same number by rolling as fast as you can. It might be the simplest game I've ever played. So what did Tenzi teach me about business development? Picking a direction fast is more important than picking the right direction [...]

By |2016-11-10T10:20:07-05:00July 27th, 2016|Relationships|

Gretzky vs. Bezos: Responding to Change With Resilience and Adaptability

Whenever I have a conversation about strategy, it's one of the most common quotes that comes up.  Firm leaders want to be like Wayne Gretzky and "Skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been."  But in business, there isn't just one puck, and rather than following a straight trajectory, it's bouncing around in a thousand directions at all at once.  We now live in a world where change is constant and [...]

By |2016-11-10T10:20:07-05:00July 25th, 2016|Strategy|

Handling Complexity: The Checklist Manifesto for Professional Services

I just finished reading Atul Gawande's The Checklist Manifesto - a book that has been sitting on my kindle for an embarrassing amount of time, but which I put off because I thought reading the New Yorker article was enough.  I was wrong: this is one of the most important books I've read for thinking about ways to improve professional practices. Gawande tells the story of the WHO's Safe Surgery Checklist, a tool that, among [...]

By |2016-11-10T10:20:07-05:00July 20th, 2016|Practices|

Managing the Captive Research and Analytics Firm

Last year, we undertook a research project to examine an under-explored type of professional services firm: research and analytics firms that are tightly held and closely aligned with a parent company like a PR, advertising, or media agency. We call these captive agencies because they're much more tightly integrated with their parent firm than a typical subsidiary.  Captive agencies operate in a sort of gray area between internal departments and independent business units, and this gray [...]

By |2016-07-13T18:15:02-04:00July 13th, 2016|Uncategorized|

The New Hunters and Farmers: Compensation is about Risk, Not Incentives

One of the most common tropes when thinking about business developers is the dichotomy between "hunters" and "farmers". It tends to crop up when looking at business development styles: hunters going out and finding new business, then quickly move on. Farmers cultivating relationships over the long term. David Maister used a similar distinction to describe firm cultures. Hunter firms are made up of entrepreneurial partners working on their own books, while farmer firms work together [...]

By |2016-11-10T10:20:07-05:00July 8th, 2016|People|

Just Keep Swimming: Business Development Lessons from Finding Dory

Warning: There might be some spoilers ahead…but it's for a Pixar movie, and they all follow the same basic story rules. The key message in Finding Dory, Pixar's sequel to the 2003 hit Finding Nemo, is a contrast between two approaches to life. On the one hand, careful cautious clownfish Marlon wants to rationally analyze every situation, think through the options, and make a calculated thoughtful decision about what to do next. For Dory, a blue tang [...]

By |2016-11-10T10:20:07-05:00June 30th, 2016|Relationships|