I recently joined Chris Hafner on a business trip and found myself in the privileged position of talking to large companies who contribute to country-wide transformation. The common theme – and one that’s echoed in our clients across the UK and Europe – is that they’re drowning in management consultancy slideware.
Like many organisations, they engage some of the more traditional management consultancies because ‘that’s what you do’. But then begins the process of death by PowerPoint as they’re expected to sit through 500-slide presentations. Rather than finish feeling excited about their impending transformation journey, they’re left thinking ‘what am I going to do with this?’ And how much is this going to cost? Will I get any value from it?
Throughout the pandemic, I’ve thought about what the future of management consultancy looks like. Our business exists within a thriving industry. Year-on-year the sector experiences growth – in the last five years it’s moved from £8bn to £10bn.
And yet we all know that the majority of the big stuff fails to deliver what it set out to do?
Take NHS Test & Trace as a prime example of the failed change initiatives we see regularly hitting the headlines. The £22bn project involved 2,300 consultants from 73 different organisations. It failed to meet its target of results within 24-hours, failed to anticipate a surge in demand as children returned to school in the autumn and seem to only curb the spread of the disease by up to 5%.
I wonder what the total cost is today on failed initiatives due to too much slideware or too many cooks in the kitchen?
The world has changed…is now the time to try something different?
During the pandemic, we’ve witnessed a distinct shift towards spending in the local community. When I think about changes in my own behaviour, pre-pandemic I used to spend my money with the big supermarkets, because that’s what you do. During lockdown I started to go to the local butcher, fruit and veg shop and the artisan bakery. But now the pandemic has blown through, I won’t revert back to my past behaviour because I enjoy the whole experience that my new shopping habits have delivered – great local produce with a really friendly service.
It makes me wonder whether corporate executives will follow suit. Will they turn to the purpose-led challenger brands who place client value over profit, just like I’ve turned my back on the large supermarkets?
I wonder whether the traditional consulting model is still relevant. Twenty years ago, the idea of ‘digital transformation’ was relatively new and the market conditions weren’t as dynamic. The concept of a multi-year, big bang approach to modernise an organisation worked. But today, the traditional consulting model that’s focussed on a goal five years out doesn’t solve the problem of how to respond to change that’s happening right now.
I wonder if there’s even time to spend on traditional consultancy anymore? The pace of change is incredible – in particular, the pandemic has given businesses an appetite for rapid change and quick delivery. Imagine you needed to embark on a transformation tomorrow, would you have time for 16 consultants to land, spend 16-24 weeks assessing your business and then listen to 500-slides on their findings and proposed methodologies.
The future of consulting is client-side
When I started S&S, I wanted to flip the script of, “You don’t get fired for hiring [insert big vendor name].”
I believe that pre-pandemic there was evidence that corporate executives were tired of the concept of traditional consultancy and had started to change their habits. Post-pandemic, I really feel now is our time, because we’ve always led with client value. When we engage our clients, we speak to the Board, identify problems and find the right people within The Change Society to bring together and solve those problems.
We don’t care about egos, flashy presentations or a big bang grand finale – we roll our sleeves up to take a quick, SWAT team approach to identify problems and blend the best expertise from our change experts in residence and The Change Society, delivering value every 90 days.
We’re only interested in what’s best for our clients, which is why we focus on transferring our knowledge to their people and swapping our IP, so they learn how to master change and can constantly reinvent the business for sustained success.
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