» View all
»U.S. Healthcare Reform and Integration
While each week in the U.S. different reports come out about key aspects of the US healthcare reform being adopted, implemented or delayed, fewer elements of the Affordable Care Act’s (ACA) impact are clear.
»Financial Services: Shooting from the Hip
It became rapidly clear as the economic crisis spun out of control in 2008 and 2009 that new regulations were coming, and those expectations were not disappointed. Governments around the world rose to the anger their constituents felt as jobs were lost and homes foreclosed on, and sweeping new regulations were enacted. Some were carefully thought out, but others more resembled what could best be described as “shooting from the hip.”
»Twinkies and Positive PR for Private Equity
If you are someone who began hoarding boxes of Twinkies last year, you may have felt a bit reactionary following the recent news on Hostess. With the Private Equity buyout of Hostess, this heartening symbol of U.S. culture is returning to store shelves. Even with expertise on their side, the two firms that agreed to the buyout certainly have their work cut out for them in revitalizing the brand to its glory days.
»The Water’s Nice; Jump In
The market for new market entry strategy consulting is about resources and incentives. It’s a not too hot, not too cold, but just right equation.
»The New War For Talent
When a meteorite blazed through the morning skies of central Russia in mid-February and exploded, the news media described it as a rare event. And it was. Fast forward one month and just about every government in the world is looking at the potential for a "rare event" to visit their borders, and wringing their hands over how to prepare for it.
»Here Comes Patient-Centric Health
U.S consumers are accustomed to choices. We often take for granted our ability to select products, price points and preferred channels. Why, then, do we as patients expect anything less from our healthcare providers?
» View all
»FAA: ‘Staffing Challenges’ Causing Delays
In case you haven’t noticed, non-weather related delays at U.S. airports are on the rise. (And I know you’ve noticed that weather-related delays are definitely on the rise.)
»Hilton’s Building Boom
Coming off a whirlwind 2012, Hilton Worldwide is the fastest growing global hospitality company by number of rooms.
»Extended Stay America Serves Up Free Breakfasts With ‘Grab and Go’
Extended Stay America launched a new Grab and Go Breakfast program, which is available seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at all of its more than 600 locations.
»Homewood Suites Survey: Comfort is King
A new survey of frequent business travelers found that they want more room to spread out, the ability to maintain a normal routine and opportunities to interact with business associates and fellow travelers.
» View all
»Author Q&A: PwC's Ted Shelton
PwC’s Ted Shelton’s book Business Models for the Social Mobile Cloud: Transform Your Business Using Social Media, Mobile Internet, and Cloud Computing, examines how the three technologies are coming together to transform businesses.
»Review: The Three Rules
Why do some companies achieve exceptional performance while so many others struggle to survive? That’s the question Deloitte’s Michael Raynor and Mumtaz Ahmed—along with an international team of dozens of researchers at Deloitte—set out to answer with their book The Three Rules.
»Review: The Athena Doctrine
While women don’t yet rule the world, plenty of people wish they did.
»Review: The Strategy Book
Max McKeown’s The Strategy Book focuses on how to create powerful strategies to deliver success.
»Excerpt: Finding Your Firm’s Growth Engine
The following is an excerpt from Leading Firms: How Great Professional Service Firms Succeed & How Your Firm Can Too by David C. Kuhlman. In the book, Kuhlman distills 25 years of
experience advising senior management at some of the world’s most prominent consulting firms. This excerpt from Chapter Six: “The Growth Engine” explores two of the key factors driving growth in the most successful firms.
»Excerpt: The Online Marketing Revolution
The following is an excerpt from Online Marketing for Professional Services, a thought-provoking and practical approach to online marketing by authors Aaron E. Taylor, Sylvia Montgomery, Sean T. McVey and Lee W. Frederiksen.
»One on One with Ed Hess, Part Two
In the last edition of
Consulting's One-on-One, we discussed why "Grow or Die" is bad advice for clients. This week, we continue the conversation with Ed Hess, a former Arthur Andersen strategy consultant and current professor at the University of Virginia's Darden Graduate School of Business, by turning the lens on consulting firms.Consulting: Turning the table to our own companies, “grow or die” is just as prevalent across consulting firms. Without growth, there’s no need to make new hires. Without new hires, there’s no pressure to force promotions up the pyramid. How do we overcome this?
Professional service firms are in a very difficult situation. The bottom line is that if you don’t have growth, you’re not making more partners. And this cuts to most firms’ underlying business model—the very basis on which the business was built [i.e., to continually add partners that will eventually buy out your shares]. The business model of adding new partners every year was easy to rationalize when you were growing revenue and were growing profit consistently. In today’s economy, where most firms aren’t growing—or, at least, not by very much—the model has to change. You either stop or significantly slow promotions, or ask the existing partners to give up a part of their stake in the firm in hopes that by adding new partners it will grow the size of the pie. To answer that question, partners have to really go back and revisit questions like, “to what purpose does this business exist?” and “are we doing this for more than just money?” Too often I see companies feeling forced to grow at any cost. They deal with the problem by buying business through significant discounted rates. And I have to wonder once a firm sends that signal to clients, if the business will ever return to historic margins.Consulting: What should partners do instead?
Every firm has a different culture. But they’ve got to ask themselves, “what’s the impact of these choices on our culture?” and “what do we want our culture to be?” Growing at the cost of the firm’s long-term success isn’t wise. But it’s rare to find the firm that has a strong enough culture in which partners are willing to take significant cuts in compensation for years for the betterment of the business. As smart as it may be long term, few firm leaders are asking themselves “what type of firm are we going to be over the next five to 10 years? Are we building a strong firm? Do we truly want to be the best place to get professional training in an environment that encourages work-life balance? Are we willing to make the sacrifices to make that happen?”Consulting: What kinds of conversations should successful firms have at their partner meetings?
Partners need to be honest with each other and decide whether they’re willing to take, say, a 20 percent cut in pay and commit to building the firm together. If not, then the next step may be to let some of the partners go. Those types of honest discussions come down to an organization’s values more so than finances. Going through that process and coming to a decision that can be explained to the entire organization will put you in better stead than an autocratic decision. If you get to the point where everyone is willing to take a 20 percent cut to keep all of the partners, then you have to address issues, like: “How do we add additional value to our clients?” and “how can we aggressively go out and bring in new clients?” Before, clients walked in the door. Now, we have to look at how we are pursuing client acquisition and expanding our services to produce reasonable margins. Everything has to be reassessed.Consulting: What’s the most challenging part of that process?
It’s difficult emotionally and intellectually. It’s very hard to have very open discussions about what the partnership can afford and what they’re willing to do. But whatever the decision, the partnership has to be honest with the staff. Nothing kills culture faster or more completely than the destruction of trust. It’s human nature for leaders to think, and then say, “If we can just hold it together, we can do better.” No one wants to have difficult decisions. The fact is that you have to be honest and truthful. You have to be transparent. You can’t say that this round of layoffs is it, because then when another round comes you’re dead. Everyone wants to put salve over it. But that’s what leadership is all about. Tough times test leadership.Consulting: But the truth may be that you just don’t know what the future holds. How do you share that with your staff without discouraging them?
My advice is to drop any sense of arrogance and be willing to admit you don’t know how to get out of this. A good sailor knows where they want to go, but often has to make adjustments. It doesn’t mean you’re sunk. It does mean coming clean with your staff by saying, “We’ve never been in this situation, but we’re all in this together.” It takes an emotional maturing and emotional awareness that a lot of professionals lack. Is it doable? Yes. Is it hard? Yes. Welcome to the real world.