New book pulls anchor on strategic thinking for business

A new book is literally about to pull the anchor on the way businesses and professional services firms approach strategic planning and leadership development to create a winning firm.

Written by East midlands born author, Alex Shacklock, who is a Director of theGrogroup, the book, entitled ‘The Firm Principles,’ describes the ten principles behind a ‘winning’ firm.

Alex is a qualified accountant and has spent the last 20 years working for, or with, professional services firms. He has used this insight to deliver an action orientated book in which the first principle challenges the reader to ‘pull the anchors’ holding back growth and be the first person to break free from the rocks that are holding firms back.

 Designed to be practical, as well as short and snappy, ‘Firm Principles’ is aimed at the professional services marketplace, but the exercises, tools and frameworks to encourage thought will challenge all business leaders to rethink their approach to strategy and leadership development.

It addresses the issues, barriers, frustrations and challenges that are common across all businesses and is full of real life examples and powerful anecdotes from business leaders and guru’s – all of which make perfect sense, yet are meaningless if action plans are not successfully executed.

Commenting on his rational for writing the book, Alex said, “I realised that when theGrogroup spoke to the senior management, their vision for the future often included descriptors such as: fast, innovative, flexible, collaborative, agile, entrepreneurial and ‘change-able’. Yet when we delved deeper and reviewed the culture of the firm and attitude of its employees, these descriptors are far different.’

He continued, “Change is difficult to implement. If things are proven to work, then why should firms change? The danger is that dangling the anchor when the tide of change is shifting substantially means being left… well… behind!”

Alex believes that ‘setting things on fire’ (and he warns readers not to take this step literally) is the most important action of all. Even though most firms know that they need to change (and many know what they need to do, without the benefit of this book) many are waiting to do it, waiting for that crisis, for the ‘have-to’ moment.

Written on the premise that a winning firm NEEDS to be a few steps ahead, the book encourages the reader to be willing to raise the anchor and break with the past, and identify and execute change to be more successful in competitive market places.

Prior to publishing, the draft book was reviewed by a number of senior lawyers and accountants in top tier firms. Their view was unanimous. “The Firm Principles is more than a book. It’s a change programme, a practical guide, underpinned by principles and a process, with exercises, tools and frameworks that provide focus and discipline to help leaders create more successful businesses.”

Dan Bowtell, Corporate Finance Partner, Smith Cooper LLP said, “This book is essential reading for all those who run and manage professional services firms of any size who are looking to grow and expand. It has an engaging flow and is full of practical, straightforward advice to improve your firm. The concepts are introduced in a modular fashion allowing you to take specific elements and build on what is already good within your firm. Many ideas are familiar, some maybe not so familiar, and others seek to shatter the basic tenets of running a professional services firm.’

He continued, “It is definitely thought-provoking, and whether you decide to implement all or just one of the principles it makes you stop and consider the fundamental elements and strategy of your firm. The applicability of the book is wide-ranging and is clearly written by someone with first-hand experience of the topic as well as an underlying appreciation of how to implement these ideas in a pragmatic and successful manner. A very worthwhile read.”

In a practical easy to read book, theGrogroup has delivered something that is highly valuable and whilst most firms will need their guiding influence as a facilitator to deliver truly effective results, the book can be the catalyst firms need to lift their anchor. It is highly recommended that every business leader finds the time to read it and engages with theGrogroup to shape their leadership and strategic thinking.

The book can be purchased here in hardcopy, for £59.99, or by visiting