Case study: Getting a Partner Elected to Chairman
Sims Wyeth
Sims Wyeth Client Satisfaction Guarantee

A KPMG partner


A young, up-and-coming partner at KPMG wants to run for the position of Chairman and asks me to help him get elected. He has been highly successful at building a team in his own area of the firm, and he wants to do the same for the entire organization.

It won't be easy. The firm is a patchwork of partner fiefdoms. Every partner guards his clients, and his territory, and will not allow the experts on his team to work for other partners.

Of course this means that the clients don't have access to other talented partners in the firm that could be helpful, nor can the clients benefit from some of the expert younger talent that is hoarded by particular partners. So while the partners are holding on to short term financial goals, the level of service is uneven across the various territories, and the quality of service delivered to the clients is deteriorating. The firm needs a different service delivery model.

In order to win the Chairmanship, my client has to address the National Partners’ Meeting in the biggest ballroom in America, and then make an appearance at every firm office in the country to lay out his plan and engage with the partnership.

The partners are highly skeptical of the plan to give up control of their territories and share clients, revenue, and human resources. Yet the future of the firm depends on its ability to bring the right people to any client problem anywhere in the world.


We began by getting to know each other. We talked about his childhood, his parents, his happiest and saddest moments, as well as his business life--the real events that shaped who he had become. I was looking for stories that he could use to personalize his message and enable his audience to identify with him.

We worked on strategy--what I call the A to B switch. "A" defines where the audience is now, and "B" defines where we want to take them. We needed to understand their predisposition: their thoughts, feelings and attitudes in position "A" and then figure out how to move enough of them to the "B" position.

We divided the population into thirds: the immoveable, the moveable, and the movers. We needed a series of speeches and presentations that would reaffirm the passions of the "Movers", activate the "Moveables", and deactivate the negativity of the "Immoveables."

We developed a vivid description of the problem facing the firm and the consequences should the status quo continue. We also offered a vision of the future in which technology would enable clients to leverage partners with particular types of expertise, no matter where the partner happened to live. We linked my client's own personal experience to this kind of global team building, so that he could speak to its power and profitability.

Finally, once we had scripted the talks, we rehearsed the delivery and the anticipated Q&A so that the client was as comfortable and prepared as he could be.


The client was elected Chairman of the firm and, over a period of years, was successful at launching the needed change. I remained with him as a coach and advisor on both messaging and his ability to deliver the messages. He retired having made a profound impact on the quality of the firm's service delivery.