James Sims, president and CEO of high-tech consultants Cambridge Technology Partners, finally found a client he couldn't help: himself. Sims, 52, resigned abruptly on July 19, a tacit acknowledgment that he hasn't figured out how to slow the Cambridge (Mass.) company's slide. Sims says he got mired in issues he had little taste for. "I wanted to be an optimist, to change an industry, and I was constantly dragged back into operations."

Sims brought a guerrilla attitude to software consulting. CATP consultants once posed as clients of a hotel chain, booking and canceling reservations en masse, to convince its executives they needed a customer-management system. But recently, CATP has been plagued by slow growth, a falling stock, and shareholder lawsuits. While Sims and others say his decision was voluntary, his departure looked hasty: His replacement, longtime director Jack Messman, formerly chairman and CEO of Union Pacific Resources Group, had only recently settled into a new home in Texas.

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