This newsletter’s main article (Selling Consultancy into Large Organisations) reminded me of my time in a ‘big4’ consultancy (PwC) selling into Government Departments and large private sector clients. We placed great store in collateral: case studies, research and especially “methodologies”, subscribing to the widely held view that what large clients really want is the intellectual property that the consultant brings. Working to a methodology means that everybody on the team on a major assignment – consultant or client side - sticks to it and knows their place within it. Methodologies work when selling to large organisations. Later, as an independent, I promoted myself along the lines of “big4 consultancy expertise and methods without big4 costs” (“Methodologies? I helped to write them!”). But it was much more challenging to get them adopted.
As a Member of the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants (WCoMC) I have worked with a range of small and mid-size charities (pro bono and fee paying), and frankly the ‘big4’ methodologies are simply too scary and expensive for them. When it comes to charities you need a different approach: one that uses structured methodologies “under the covers”, and finds simple, agile ways of using them.
This got me thinking about how we get things done within WCoMC – a subject of interest as I start my year as First Warden. Like CMCE, the Company is almost entirely reliant on the hard work put in by volunteers with a wealth of experience who want to get involved, but equally want to do things their own way and on their own terms. There is nothing quite so frustrating or demotivating as having volunteered to do a particular piece of work only to hear, usually from the side-lines, “don’t do it like that, do it like this!!” (i.e. “my method, not yours”).
However, a laissez-faire approach won’t work either. Some sort of structure is needed, and all our Pro Bono assignments start with the volunteer agreeing the terms of reference and approach with the client, with an Assignment Director in the loop and available to help if required: a fine line to tread. I'm sure the same considerations apply when it comes to the work of CMCE and I always observe with interest how a team of willing volunteers (and there are plenty), all pulling in the same direction but still wanting to do things their own way can be successfully forged.
First Warden and Editor of the WCoMC Newsletter.