Andrew Blum, CEO and Managing Partner of the Trium Group, a San Francisco-based strategy firm, has a rather unusual criteria when he makes an honest assessment of client companies.
“Are these organizations places where I’d want my kid to work? Usually the answer is no,” Blum says. He’s so intrigued by that question, incidentally, that he’s currently working on a book titled: Building and Leading Organizations You’d Want Your Kids to Work At .
“These large organizations, by and large, are not full of satisfied and engaged people. They’re full of stressed out people on the edge, full of anxiety, with limited ways to create impact they can be proud of,” Blum says. “We’re trying to change that. We want to make it easier for people to produce results they can be proud of, results aligned with the company’s strategy.”
The Trium Group has been attempting to do this since it launched in 1998—with three strategy consultants and a whitewater rafting guide.Blum, who was a leader in Towers Perrin’s Strategy and Organization Practice and a former 1st lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps, says his epiphany came when he had just completed a year-long project with Cathay Pacific and, although the project was deemed successful, he knew, ultimately, it wouldn’t be as successful as it should’ve been.
“There were a whole set of issues left unaddressed around culture, leadership, team dynamics, levels of trust and cross-functional barriers. We didn’t have a mandate, or the confidence, to address those issues,” he says. “We realized the work we were doing was ultimately, incomplete. We realized that if we could combine leadership consulting with traditional strategy consulting, we’d really have something.”
Trium’s fundamental premise, Blum says, is that any kind of strategic journey has to translate into a personal journey. “There’s really no distinction between how C-level executives behave, and how they execute on strategy,” he says. “You can’t change other people’s behavior but not change your own. That’s not going to work, and a lot of leaders don’t want to hear that … so, some of them go hire a big strategy firm and do another study.”
But many executives do want to hear Trium’s message—98 percent of business is repeat business. Trium is fresh off a year of 43 percent growth and is projecting another 33 percent this year. Blum says Trium’s top end is about $35 million, at least the way the firm is currently constituted.
But regardless of where the firm ends up, Blum says he sees Trium consultants as business revolutionaries. “We didn’t invent the rules, but consultants walk into C-level offices and get listened to,” Blum says. “How are we using that platform? Are we using it to create a more conscious business world, or are we using it for our own gain? It has to be the former.”