PracticeConsultingLearning the lessons of divorce

Learning the lessons of divorce

For a business like Andersen Consulting - as the newly divorced former partner of Arthur Andersen will be known for five months at the most - the loss of its name is something of a body blow.

The firm’s success, like that of any other in its field, is almost entirely dependent on its reputation and know-how of its staff. Good people these days are hard to find and have an alarming propensity to leave for what they see as greener pastures.

And a well-known name is central to maintaining a good reputation. The decision of the arbitrator, who this week ruled the consulting giant should surrender its name by the year end, has robbed it of one of its major assets.

But, as the saying goes, with adversity comes strength. And Andersen Consulting certainly seems to be acting somewhat more bullishly than its former partner.

Its claims of victory were plastered over the world’s press, even though the decision was really nothing of the sort, before Arthur Andersen uttered one word.

And the consulting giant has already said it will now consider seeking some sort of alliance, perhaps to acquire an established brand name. It also announced plans to take on thousands more staff and partners.

The firm, which makes money by helping others to deal with the challenge of change, now faces testing times. Arthur Andersen has broken free of a troublesome partnership, and is rightly celebrating.

But it should not forget what it has learned from its former sister – especially when it comes to speed and adaptability.

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