Kit Hinrichs at Pentagram (A)

Case Solution

Linda A. Hill, Emily A. Stecker
Harvard Business School ()

This case focuses on Kit Hinrichs, a 65-year-old partner at Pentagram, a privately owned multidisciplinary design company. Pentagram, one of the most recognized design studios in the world, was founded in London in the 1970s by five designers from different disciplines. Until 2008, Pentagram stayed small with fewer than 30 partners, each a true star. The pentagram had two basic principles, the first of which was equality. The principle of equality meant that leadership was evenly distributed; Senior partners had no greater formal authority than newer partners, and the only formal leadership role was a board position that rotated every two years after 30 years with a founder. Furthermore, Pentagram did not have a corporate office; Each partner was expected to manage their own finance, marketing, and human resources functions. The second principle of Pentagram was generosity. All the partners were equal shareholders of the company. Pentagram spread to New York in the early 1980s, and Hinrichs established a San Francisco location in the late 1980s. Hinrichs follows this case by establishing Pentagram’s San Francisco office and also describes the development of his own. Pentagram. Additionally, this case provides a detailed description of Hinrichs and his team working with a client. This case can be used in business and executive education courses on professional service firms, managing a creative organization, and the role of design in business. It should also be used by design schools.

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