Monday, November 4, 2013

Classic Consulting Quotes

What must change is our attitude to futurity – I am committed to the idea that the firm must emerge stronger --break--, not merely surviving, but thriving. I am also committed to the idea that the firm must achieve its rightful place in the world. To do this we will have to make wise choices in the difficult months ahead, but choices I am convinced we will make, in the right direction – towards longitudinal sustenance against the vision of a genuinely enduring institution.


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At recent meetings throughout the partnership and firm, I have spoken to many of you about the notion of longitudinal sustenance – the idea that we must stay with our essential purpose, particularly during hard times, in order to become a truly enduring institution and one that has the quality, integrity and indeed, scale, to genuinely be counted at the top of the profession.  This note seeks to lay out these ideas to all of you, so we may decisively confront the next year’s challenges, but also be firm of purpose in seizing our destiny. 

As a firm, we have an overall vision and set of aspirations that include the following key elements:

  • Our aim, first and foremost, is to be a high quality, values driven institution at the top of the profession
  • Our purpose is to serve the senior agenda of the world’s leading institutions
  • We are a universal, global consulting firm, implying that in principle we serve the range of issues on the senior agenda across all industries in most geographies
  • Our core doctrine is that of –break--  
  • To achieve this ambition, a key competitive advantage is our structure as a cohesive, global private partnership

This vision has implications for how we manage and grow the business over the medium and longer term, and how we confront challenges over the course of the next fiscal year given the economic downturn.  We must maintain or grow the business in a substantive way and sustain or build momentum around investments across multiple years, and make the appropriate tradeoffs.

As we structure our plan for –break--, we are ensuring this principle of longitudinal sustenance governs our thinking.   Our intent is to:

  • Protect and hold together senior talent, so that the core revenue engine of the firm is sustained through the downturn
  • Retain and develop key talent at all levels of our business while in parallel recognizing the need to manage staff capacity appropriately, with an eye towards ensuring we have the right capabilities and resources to rebound when growth returns, including looking for creative ways to variabilize staff costs to allow us to carry more individuals, but fewer FTEs  (e.g., enhancing our leave of absence programs)
  • Hold reserves for investments in –break--, so that firm strategic priorities -- break-- can be funded
  • Ensure we protect the core – our talent, our key client relationships and our fundamental intellectual capital agenda

Supporting this ambitious agenda requires that we make hard choices between near term compensation and funding longer term institution building initiatives that will propel future earnings.  However, I am confident in our business and the returns these strategic investments will provide.

Near term, we are likely to see continued contraction in the consulting market.  In the face of such conditions we must manage the business and our cost base in a prudent fashion.  To this end, management is implementing a set of actions across the board to address the firm’s controllable costs.  Enhancements to our sabbatical, leave of absence and secondment programs will provide staff with new options and create greater flexibility in how we deploy.  Where possible, we will redeploy client-facing staff to meet demands in growing markets, and where appropriate and in geographies where it is necessary, we will re-shape our capacity to meet market demand. 

In parallel, the regional leadership teams have announced new policies for controlling discretionary spend.  We will significantly reduce or eliminate expenditures on meetings and internal travel, including –break--.  In addition, we must make explicit cost/service trade-offs on necessary versus discretionary support provided to the business – for example, making offices the primary venue for training. 

While these steps are not without consequences, the benefits provided by taking such actions now allow us to maintain the critical mass and shape of the business that will position the firm for growth and to come out of the downturn stronger.  Each of you has a responsibility, as well, to make the right choices in managing discretionary spending and promoting a general mentality of austerity for the firm.

At the same time, we are increasing discipline in our processes that drive top line revenue.  It is now more important than ever that we stand by our clients, supporting them in formulating their agendas in the face of challenges created by current economic conditions.   We have launched a focused campaign effort on --break-- which has resulted in --break--.  This effort is generating real traction in the market and creating new opportunities, while at the same time building capabilities in our marketing and sales processes to do this on a repeatable basis.   Further, I have asked --break-- to take strong form ownership of our biggest commercial opportunities, and review the selling teams for –break-- to ensure we are leveraging firmwide capabilities to maximize our potential for success.  On the back end, we are working with --break-- to meet receivables performance targets.  Our commitment to the foresight agenda will ensure the relevance our message to our clients, differentiate us in the marketplace and help drive commercial success.

In all likelihood, the coming year will be extraordinarily challenging for our clients, and by implication, for us.  Nevertheless, we have seen through challenging times before and have come through a historic challenge in –break--.  What must change is our attitude to futurity – I am committed to the idea that the firm must emerge stronger --break--, not merely surviving, but thriving.  I am also committed to the idea that the firm must achieve its rightful place in the world.  To do this we will have to make wise choices in the difficult months ahead, but choices I am convinced we will make, in the right direction – towards longitudinal sustenance against the vision of a genuinely enduring institution.


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Monday, November 4, 2013