Ultimate Consulting Experience

“Senior Executives Define “The Ultimate Consulting Experience”

On May 8th, 2001 ,CEOs and Senior Executives from leading midwest companies came together with a mission to set strategic direction for the consulting industry. According to a recent survey by Kennedy Information Research Group, only 4% of companies surveyed claim to be very satisfied with their consulting experiences. Despite this track record, management consulting has continued to blossom into an $89 billion worldwide industry, setting low expectations as the norm in regards to client satisfaction and results.

The event was sponsored by Sears, Roebuck and Co, McDonald’s and the consulting clubs from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business and Kellogg Management School . Dr. Jay Desai from the Institute of Global Competitiveness (IGC) conducted the session using his unique customer engagement methodology that guides participants through a collaborative prioritization process of 100’s of existing and new ideas. Among those in attendance were:

  • BlueCross BlueShield Colette Burke-Blan – Executive Director of Strategic Consulting
  • State Farm Frank Comella – AVP of Strategic Resources
  • Service Master David Johnson -SVP of New Business Development
  • Sears Dr. Steve Kirn -VP Innovation & Organizational Development
  • Northwestern Mutual LifePaul Lima – President of International Holdings
  • Archer Daniels Midland Dr. Gary Miller, SVP Science/Business Development
  • Sara Lee Corporation Richard Oberdorf – VP of Corporate Development
  • GATX VP Corporate Strategy
  • 3Com CommWorks Paul Heimbuch – VP Operation

Partial Summary

Our Strategy Session began with an open forum to discuss personal experiences and uncover the barriers to total satisfaction with consulting engagements. A summary of these ideas is listed below. The data indicate that obstacles to client satisfaction can be attributed to the mindset and actions of both the consulting firms as well as the client.

Roundtable Summary: Barriers to Consulting Satisfaction

  • General lack of experience/expertise
  • Costly internal analysis by “young MBA’s”
  • Engagements often lack clear definition and scope leading to differing expectations and dissatisfaction
  • Consulting firms are often brought in for the wrong reasons: validate internal ideas, crisis team, avoidance of risk/responsibility by management
  • Clients must have a champion/true believer to see a project through to completion
  • Broadly speaking, management does a poor job of tapping into their own people; Too often employee feedback resurfaces as consultant recommendations
  • Companies must put adequate time/research into the recruiting process for a consulting partnership

In step two of the Strategy Session, executives generated a list of high and average priority innovative ideas for “The Ultimate Consulting Experience”. There was general consensus around high priority Excitements (Wows!) and Unexpected Values (Nice to have). The executives as a group agreed that the these ideas would add great economic value to any consulting engagement. (Please call IGC to learn more)

As we progressed in the Strategy Session to identify top priorities, a theme developed that shifted many ideas from unexpected values (Nice to have) to customer expectations because of high level of dissatisfaction from most consulting engagements. These are things that you expect from your consulting engagements but generally are not getting.

The following is a complete list of these ideas:

Customer Expectations

  • Customized solutions
  • Fast response to client request
  • Fact finding conference call to maximize meeting time
  • Integrate best practices of leading thinkers, companies
  • Consultant team with proven performance
  • Treat client as partner
  • Find what client wants to accomplish in each meeting
  • Set clear expectations / project definition: scope, tasks, responsibilities, desired results
  • Don’t repeat company information as a solution
  • Do not waste client’s time
  • Manage scope creep
  • Actionable conclusions and recommendations
  • Recommendations are organized into an executable plan
  • Recommendations are justified
  • Measure progress regularly
  • Accountability for performance or lack thereof
  • Jointly defined payment plan
  • Per project payment

While the validity of any conclusions drawn by this session will be verified with future sessions, we feel the executives uncovered a logical explanation for inadequate impact from the investment of $89 Billion in the consulting industry, and total client satisfaction of 5% from the consulting engagements. The validity of conclusions drawn from this session will be verified with future “Ultimate Consulting Experience” sessions.

Proven Results

  • 2x to 10x Revenue and Profit growth.
  • 2x to 5x Industry Growth Rate.
  • 100's of Game-changing Ideas.
  • 1.5x to 5x Revenue/Employee .