A bit of background
In the midst of 2020, we had a rare opportunity to hit pause and reflect on where we are at that moment in time, and where we want to be. So we worked with the wider team to envision what S&S would look like at the end of 2023 across every part of the business. What does the office look like? How do we transform raw ideas into customer-focused products and services? What culture do we want to foster? How can we be recognised as a business for good? How far will we have taken this market disruption?
Once we had visualised what that looks and feels like, we created this Vivid Vision Document. Here’s the PDF (designed nicely) version if you’d like to view it there, otherwise please scroll down and see what our lofty ambition looks like come December 2023.
It’s December 31st, 2023. Welcome to the future of work. And welcome to the company that orchestrated that future: Sullivan & Stanley. We’ve created a new brand of consulting: client-side consulting, where we are the trusted, long-term partners that help companies adjust to inevitable change, and sustainably design a future in which they can thrive in a fast-paced, constantly-changing world. We don’t breed dependency on our services, like the consulting world has been prone to do. We reinvent struggling businesses into thriving enterprises, and help fast-growth businesses capitalise on the speed of the 21st century.
Our ability to develop long-term relationships with our clients, combined with our ground-breaking digital tools makes for a consultancy the world has never seen before. Thanks to our immense follow through on our 2023 strategy—where we lead the charge into a new wave of consultancy—we’ve broken up businesses’ dependence on big, traditional consulting firms, and given them the tools needed to thrive in the fourth industrial era.
How did we usher in the future of work and skyrocket to a globally respected position? It all starts with sticking to our principles…
Be transparent and honest: We care enough to tell people what they need to hear not what they want to hear. We’re quick to surface problems, worries or to ask for help.
Give more than you receive: We are generous with our time and resources. We believe in creating bright futures for ourselves and others.
Look after one another: Our customers and relationships are for life. We work to grow and protect the S&S tribe and are recognised for our unique contribution to it.
Follow-through: We take personal responsibility for starting and finishing what we commit to. We value action over intent.
360-Degree Leadership: Our Team
Pat Lynes is our CEO and Visionary, leading us to the big-picture vision and developing high-impact partnerships that accelerate our growth. But most importantly, he serves the rest of the team and coaches them to perform at their best. Our Operations Team removes friction from our processes, and pioneers new systems to automate, so we can smoothly run our service and allow the rest of the team to thrive.
The way we’re organised is a bit different from what the business world is accustomed to. Our Leadership Team is full of servant leaders, and is there to support the true rock stars: our team, which we believe are the top 1% of talent in the world. We have outcome and accountability-based structures that guide our team and we believe the role you play is more important than the title you have. We subscribe to 360-degree leadership: leadership that flows from all around, not just from the top down.
We’ve successfully expanded into EMEA focusing on the UK, Northern Europe, and the Middle East, and are recognised as the new breed of consulting. In our hiring process, we are unashamedly selective, so we can maintain top 1% expertise. The whole team is part of our Upgrade Mode Culture, where we work to keep answering “yes” to one simple question: “At the end of each year, are you an upgraded version of yourself?” Everyone is accountable to that question. We practice radical transparency, which means everyone is reviewed (even our CEO), and we share results with the whole team.
World-Class Customer First Culture
Our philosophy is this: If we’re not practising what we preach, how can we have integrity in the service we’re providing clients? Everything we encourage other companies to do—staying inherently agile and nimble, creating an environment where team members can grow and love their jobs, staying in alignment with our products, and continuously improving as individuals and as a group—we enact tenfold in our own organisation.
We are a cutting-edge data org that underpins everything we do.
Everyone co-creates our own strategy, we listen to every team member’s opinions and ideas, and everyone here takes as much ownership in the company as the CEO. In short, we are purpose first, profit second.
Our network also routinely offers free advice, events, and connections around the globe. When businesses find us, they see a company operating with a higher purpose, beyond just solving the next problem. They work with our experts because our culture is one of creating sustainability in businesses we work with.
We’re the organisation that re-energizes your workplace. We allow flexibility in hours and location. Whether you’re a new parent getting back into part-time work, or a burned-out expert tired of the traditional grind of the industry, you can find your place here.
We champion diversity in our workplace from a variety of experiences and backgrounds. It’s this diversity of thought that allows us to think outside the box and solve problems from all angles.
Our work is intense, no doubt. We work in 90-day cycles, delivering quick, effective results that take most companies twice as long. But that intensity doesn’t mean we don’t have fun, too. Each week, during our Friday “stand-ups,” we go over team members’ wins and goals. We engage in regular “random acts of kindness,” where we reward those who have gone above and beyond. Maybe it’s sending a team member away for the weekend with their partner, or maybe it’s as simple as leaving a surprise coffee on their desk: we love saying thank you in creative ways.
This year, we brought the team together in beautiful Whistler, British Columbia, for our annual winter retreat. We crisscrossed the slopes during the day, then congregated in the evenings for workshops and goal-setting. Everyone looks forward to this event, and always comes back to work with renewed motivation for the year ahead.
The New Age of Business
In a world where the ability to face change is no longer a luxury, but a requirement, we teach companies how to be change-ready, no matter what. We don’t just toss PowerPoints your way: we actively participate as partners to tangibly and sustainably help you deliver change, digitally transform, and experiment with new ways of working. We do so in four ways…
Business Agility Transformers: When businesses struggle (with their bottom line, or with retaining talent and customers), we’re their go-to services partner. We deploy a team of experts to dig deep, understand the “why” behind that business’s struggles, and co-create solutions with the company that not only create transformation but are sustainable long-term. We deliver value every 90 days, which has completely disrupted consulting: we’re the team that drives companies to constantly reinvent themselves, making them competitive in a highly digital world. We have democratised consulting by putting a platform-based ecosystem at the heart of our service, which removes the friction from all our engagements.
Global Expert Communities: Our Change Society is the club to be in, attracting the finest minds on the planet. Our expert panels incubate some of our most cutting-edge insights every quarter. We also host high-impact annual symposiums, on days we’ve coined CxO Day, Change Day, Delivery Day, and others focusing on different business topics and attracting some of the biggest names in business. That along with our future vision of technology will allow our network to self-serve and maintain their capacity and skillset, to help more proactively and consistently place associates with gigs.
ChangeReady Experts: In this era, it’s not about transformation: it’s about constantly integrating change into the core of your business, just like technology. Our proprietary tool scores companies on how ready for change they are, then offer solutions for how to engage with change, which we can help lead them through…
Client-Side Partners: Companies that win this decade will be the ones most able to ride the wave of change characteristic of this era. And we’ll be right by your side the whole way. We truly partner with organisations, not just throw them a bullet-point list of ideas and wish them luck. We offer tools and strategies, but on top of a trusted, sustainable relationship.
Walking into any one of our three hubs (in London, Manchester, and the MENA office) is like walking into a place you feel at home. The walls are covered with photos of our annual winter retreats and nights out together, as well as awards our customers have won for the world-class change services they’ve delivered for clients. You even hear the jingle of a collar as the office dog trots up to meet you at the door.
Keep walking, and things start to get a little more high-tech than the average family home. We have an entire wall dedicated to the TV screens that connect us to our other locations. Each Friday, as we gather up for our weekly stand-up, our other cities’ headquarters are plugged in digitally so we can all interact as one team. Splashes of our signature orange provide pops of colour and a warm undertone to the whole office. There are whiteboards everywhere, usually surrounded by small crowds of associates or clients, chatting together as they co-create strategies. Each of our offices is an open layout, and paper-free. That clutter-free environment you step into instantly stimulates your creativity: Here, we have the space, both physical and mental, to innovate.
And in the late afternoons, you can head downstairs to the Jolly Orange – social hubs we own and operate at each of our locations. It’s not uncommon to see associates and clients transferring their strategy sessions from the whiteboards to a table spread with a few beers.
Sales & Marketing
Our referral base is so strong that we don’t have to chase after new business; it comes flooding in by itself. Previous clients tell their network, “Let me tell you about this company that completely transformed our business…” And our associates are just as happy, telling their own circles, “I actually feel like I’m helping change the way businesses work. Sullivan & Stanley has made me feel part of something.”
That’s the power of the crowd. When we work with someone, we create lifelong relationships, and the word gets around. We’ve genuinely created an expert movement that’s gone viral globally. Over the last 3 years, we’ve serviced 30 top-tier clients to deliver successful change.
When a business has a question about how their relationship with their consultant is supposed to work, or when an expert is wondering about the newest trends to inspire business transformation, they head to our knowledge network: The Pulse, our subscription business providing world-class insights, now has more than 100K subscribers. We’re like a cross between Harvard Business Review and Forbes: all our experts regularly contribute articles, building up a hub of vetted knowledge everyone else in the industry seeks out. We also host a weekly YouTube show and have a constantly-growing podcast network, so there’s no shortage of platforms to find the Sullivan & Stanley perspective.
Media & Awards
“This is one of the truly authentic consulting firms in the world…”
“Their bottom line is the mark of a good business in the traditional sense. But Sullivan & Stanley is also a business DOING good.”
“Sullivan & Stanley is one of the most progressive organisations that the top talent in the world is itching to work for.”
Those are just a few clips of what the media says about our company. Forbes, The New York Times, and The Times of London have all written about us, while business schools like Harvard and Oxford invite us to speak about how to build a business people want to work for in 2023.
We’ve exploded onto the international scene, and are lauded for how we transform businesses into places where talented employees actually want to work, and for practising what we preach. Glassdoor named us the Best Place To Work in the United Kingdom, and all our departments have been awarded for their work. Our Business for Good programme is recognised internationally as the model for other organisations’ quest to do business well, in a socially conscious way.
It’s not just our company as a whole being recognised either. Our customers have won numerous awards as a result of the change we’ve supported, as well as our world-class change teams bringing home global accolades.
And our brand is the sum of its parts: 20 of our employees and associates have published books, which has exponentially expanded our reach worldwide.
You’ll hear us talking about thinking exponentially when it comes to crafting solutions and building the future. That mindset translates to hard numbers, too. Our financial growth has been nothing short of exponential: 10x growth rate over a 3-year period, 10x the revenue, and 10x the profit. From one office, we’ve mushroomed to multiple locations, with our base of associates increasing to 1,000 total. We keep track of customer satisfaction metrics relentlessly, and they continue to be world-class.
We’re a worldwide leader in harnessing the power of corporate executives for the common good. Our initiative to bring execs together in pursuit of the United Nations’ global goals is recognised internationally as a game-changer for how CEOs worldwide think about their social responsibility.
But thinking big often requires thinking smaller: We also work locally to support initiatives within the cities and regions where we’re headquartered. Every 90 days, our teams spend the day giving back to the community, whether it’s tutoring local students or serving meals at a food bank.
Our “Back to Work” programme helps new mothers get back into professional work after having a baby. Too often, in the old corporate world, new mums were shuffled into low-management roles when they returned to work. But we don’t believe in that: We believe in building opportunities for mothers to get back into consulting work, on a schedule and in a culture that works for them.
We are always looking for ways to make a positive dent in the world through our efforts around sustainability, minimising our environmental impact and leading a diverse workforce of the future.
When my two sons—Sullivan and Stanley—were born, I naturally thought about the working world they would one day enter. And I knew something had to change.
The corporate world of yesterday was stuck in an endless cycle. Companies hired consultants to come in and evaluate what was wrong, but too often, the consulting world focused on keeping businesses IN the problem: it meant they would keep collecting paychecks. It was an unhealthy world for business, but also an unhealthy one for consulting experts, who were burnt out and not enjoying their jobs.
On top of that, corporations were stuck in 20th century ideas of how people should work: set hours, set location, and loyalty to an organisation simply because that’s what was considered “right.”
I didn’t want my sons to grow up and have to work in that world.
What we’ve accomplished at Sullivan & Stanley in the past 3 years has disrupted the way the world does business. We’ve ushered in an understanding that people should have a positive relationship with their career. That experts should be co-creators of a solution, not co-architects in keeping a problem around forever. That corporate executives have a social responsibility to do good in the world, not just do well in business.
What we’ve done, no one else has done before. We’ve created a space in the consulting world for a company like us—who values long-term relationships and successful change-building through partnership, not dependence—to better prepare businesses for the inevitable, sweeping, fast-paced change that awaits them. We may not always know what form that change will take: but we know how to make you ready for it.
Internally, the ambitious goals and personal growth we outlined in Obergurgl 2020 have come to fruition. The journey has been just as important as the outcome, and we’re truly living our best lives throughout that evolution. We’re all upgraded versions of ourselves in 2023, and because of that, we’ve spurred a complete shift in the consulting industry.
Are you ready to join the movement?