I think it’s because they are driven by the clock. Every 6 minutes they have to record what they’ve done, and bill it to someone. Very little latitude or autonomy – they have to produce, produce, produce.

Accounts historically have done the same. Your bill is the sum of the time that has been taken. Never mind if some of that time wasn’t effective, or was wasted. The client (you) still pay for it. How fair is that to the poor client?

Of course it isn’t. I don’t expect to go into one of my client’s businesses and pay more if he dithers or muck it up!

And yet it is the way that most accountants and lawyers still work. The way their clients frankly distrust. And these are your closest professional advisers – the people you entrust with your hopes, dreams and every details of your business life?


Still – lawyers (and accountants) are miserable. Why do they stay in this misery then? What makes them persist? Partly the management structure of their business I suggest. Most management thinking (everywhere – not just lawyers!) is carrot and stick approach (or stick and carrot!) with a top down control based style. And in any type of work which is right brain dominated – that is, creative, where people have discretion over what they do – it simply stifles creativity and diminishes performance. Not what you want from your accountant or lawyer?

It’s the place where science and business diverge. Business simply hasn’t caught up with the science of what makes people tick and want to do well. There was a study of 320 small businesses, half of which granted workers autonomy, the other half relying on top down direction. The businesses that offered autonomy grew at 4 times the rate of the controlled ones and had 1/3 the turnover of staff. That’s impressive, and we know how, and we are telling our clients!

It doesn’t work in all cases, and certainly not in routine tasks, but it does for more creative ones, like accountants and lawyers.

So – happy accountants and lawyers, which means that there are happy clients. But only if the time sheet is binned. That makes for happiness all round.

We binned them some time ago. Our clients hated time sheets, so we did it simply because if that. We keep timesheets solely as a budget tool – so we can quote prices for future work based on past experience. Clients know they can ring up whenever they like, get the help they need, and know they won’t be getting a bill. We are happier knowing we can do the best job we can, as we are not driven by the clock too. Win – win. That’s rare!