The New Business Consultants

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by: Sigurd Rinde

Just spent a few days up in Scandinavia, those European outliers from where I originally hail, and was positively reminded of a few things.

Cold misty weather of course… 

Despite going against the grain of the classic growth theories of most other countries the Scandinavian countries are constantly on top of GDP per inhabitant statistics year after year despite (or because of?) being highly egalitarian and having a wide social security net built in. Highest taxes and highest level of living standards, wasn’t supposed to be like that. 

Ditto for the work environment. Again more of that egalitarian, flat organisations and a distinct lack of positions-based power still proving to be highly efficient.

Combine those two and this does not come as a surprise: A new kind of business consulting is emerging up there (and I’m sure, elsewhere as well).

Not the classic write-invoices-with-both-hands, create big fancy reports to be used internal-strategically by top management (sorry McK and BCG, don’t take it personally), but another kind that actually is rooted in real life need to address strategic business issues.

I see a trend where the purveyors of all kinds of business services, after finding that much of their work will have little success without addressing strategic issues, have accepted reality and added a Business Consulting group to their palette.

Seth Godin mentioned something along those lines the other day when he wrote about PR versus publicity:

"PR is the strategic crafting of your story. It’s the focused examination of your interactions and tactics and products and pricing that, when combined, determine what and how people talk about you."

Exactly, pretty much a business consulting gig if you ask me.

If you’re in advertising should it not be the same? Is Apple’s message the one you find on the wall of bus station shelters? Is it not the products, the presentations, the packaging, the pricing, the shops, in short the whole combined shebang? 

If you’re in product design, ditto. Nothing matters unless rooted in the overall strategy.

If you’re in investment banking tinkering with mergers & acquisitions is that anything but business consulting? How could you ever get a deal going unless you address the overall strategy of your client?

If you’re a lawyer drafting contracts or Terms Of Service is that not as strategically important to the client as packaging, pricing, colours, design and distribution channel? Ask Facebook’s lawyers after their little TOS mishap the other week!

If you’re in enterprise IT, how could you not be concerned with overall strategy? Heck, the stuff you deliver sets the processes and how products are delivered, how customers are handled and how margins are distributed, nothing but strategic that.

Nope, at the end of the day, in these increasingly holistic and transparent times, everything is Business Consulting, the rest only the implementation of parts.

So why don’t more business suppliers and services do what some modern Scandinavian firms do; raise the flag proudly with a proper Business Consulting group as a natural part of their offering?

And in the same genre, why should not purchasers of advertising, PR, design, IT, legal services and so forth invite those to the strategy sessions while demanding real strategic insight?

They should, and they will.

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