When we first meet with a client to understand their situation, we draw on all of our relevant experience with their industry and problem type. We listen intently to their challenges, paying attention to how different members of the management team may see the problem differently. We digest what we learned, do a small amount of our own research and then we meet again. We play back what we think we heard, adding our own perspective on how to frame and approach the problem. Ideally we leave our second meeting with a common view of what the problem is and how to solve it.
Once engaged, we spend time with an expanded client team gathering more perspective, some data and getting smarter about the company. By the end of this first short phase of work we aim to have a list of ideas to explore, some hypotheses on what the answer could be and, in some cases, a refined work plan.
Most of our projects involve fairly in-depth research and analysis of one type or another.
We look for the data that will help us prove or disprove the hypotheses we generated in the ideation phase. We work with our clients to extract the data we need from their systems or we come up with a variety of proxies that will tell us what we need to know. Throughout our research and analysis, we remain in constant contact with our client team so that, together, we can interpret the analysis as it comes in. By the end of this phase, the answer should be starting to form.
With a solid view of what the data is telling us, we aim to move management through the decision process.
We work hard to strike the right balance between playing the role of an objective outsider, and remembering that we don’t know our client’s business better than they do. We design a decision-making process that fits the organization’s culture and the context of the decision they are making. Sometimes a small meeting of top decision makers is most efficient. Other times, we use a series of stakeholder meetings and facilitated sessions to ensure that the whole team is bought into the contemplated changes. What is most important is that the team is committed to change.
We don’t think our job is done until the client has actually started to make the change they agreed to.
We work with the client team to create a plan that is broken down into a set of initiatives, each with a timeline and owner. Clients often retain a subset of our team to shepherd the implementation of the plan to completion. Retaining our team through implementation enables us to remain accountable for our recommendations and tie more of our fees to results delivered.