Building an Innovation Consulting Practice
A Firmsconsulting Original Strategy Training Series.
“The Promotion: Season 1″ demonstrates the skill a McKinsey, BCG et al partner would use to navigate the complex path to a partnership or any other promotion.
Follow us as we help Andrew, a senior manager / associate principal at a major international professional services firm, become an equity partner in 3 years by following a highly unconventional path: by re-building the firm’s failed innovation practice. Starting with a total budget of just $150K, and signing authority of < $5,000, we take you through every meeting, dinner, coffee chat, obstacle, plan, tactic, pilot, proposal, marital problem, client push-back, strategy, success, failure etc. to achieve total revenue of >$30MM within 3 years.
Before Andrew, no equity partner had ever been elected from an internal role in this firm.
We will post special Q&A episodes in response to member questions.
~320 episodes; documenting everything Andrew did to change his career.
At the start of the show Andrew is a 39-year-old finance specialist serving mid-sized clients in the North-East USA. He recently joined the firm after working at a rival professional services giant for much of his career. He left his prior firm because he was not offered a path to partnership. His career had stalled.
Despite the excitement of joining the new firm, he again fails to make progress and continues to serve mid-size clients, which, given the size of the projects, makes it difficult for him to ever reach the ~$3MM/annum hurdle for partnership.
Moreover, Andrew does not know how to sell without selling. He follows a benefits-based sales approach which does not work. At this point Andrew believes that, at best, he may make partner in 7 to 10 years, but he will likely remain a senior manager. In fact, he is considering leaving to join as a partner at a much smaller regional firm.
He is happily married with a wonderful wife and children. Yet, he bears the guilt of knowing he asked his wife to give up her lucrative investment banking job to raise their children. His wife kept her end of the bargain but Andrew believes he did not do enough on his side.
Innovating Within the Firm – Year 1
Michael takes over Andrew’s career to develop an entirely new career strategy and route to the partnership. In a bold and daring move, Andrew is asked to forget about the common route to partnership and focus on the non-existent, failing and embarrassing innovation practice that the firm’s management committee is considering to shut down.
Michael works with Andrew to find a route into innovation, eventually position him to run the function in a caretaker role, and develop a definition and scalable model for innovation. After a very slow start, September through to December turn out to be important months where a grass-roots innovation campaign is assembled. Michael’s very carefully planned successes and image management strategy gets Andrew noticed by senior management.
New Revenue for the Firm – Year 2
After hitting a major milestone at the end of Year 1, Michael maps out an aggressive but logical plan to shift innovation from its internal focus to external clients. Michael and Andrew continue building out an innovation engine that can scale across the firm. Andrew’s star keeps rising.
They set out, with a detailed strategy, to achieve two highly improbable, but significant, goals.
The year ends with Andrew landing his first multi-million-dollar client engagement. Not done yet, they focus on building out an innovation service for external clients, with a bigger goal in mind than when they started working two years ago.
Innovating for Clients – Year 3
Michael and Andrew pursue the final, and incredibly ambitious, goal: to manage a full innovation program at a major multi-national client, while going head-to-head against BCG and McKinsey, yet by using a different approach to innovation and in an area where the firm has no prior track record. This program requires Andrew to find a way to execute a plan of bringing together the firm’s skills in audit, tax, corporate finance, legal, technology and consulting to create new sources of revenue for clients.
Michael and Andrew develop a “blocking strategy” which allows Andrew to use the unique assets of the firm, to conduct innovation programs in a way that is different from McKinsey and BCG. In other words, they use McKinsey/BCG thinking to build an innovation practice that leverages the strengths of the firm versus replicating the approach used by BCG and McKinsey.
The program ends with Andrew’s initiatives generating >$30 million in savings + revenue for the firm and an offer to join the equity partnership.
Although the number looks daunting, we will explain to you the exact path taken, how we phased the initiatives, how we built a loyal team around Andrew and how we trained Andrew to become comfortable with sales.
We break down each source of revenue + savings into the dollar benefit to the firm, how it was calculated, how it was validated and how you could go about applying the same concept. Significant time is spent explaining the build-up to each pilot, the lessons learned and how the improved process was rolled out across the firm.
Access to this Program
This program is exclusively available to Firmsconsulting Insiders.
1. The story behind the episodes
2. Client Background
3. Interview process
4. How we think about this
5. A moonshot
6. Am I Andrew’s friend?
7. Does career success buy financial freedom or vice versa?
8. The old-boys network
9. Everyone says!
10. The economic model of a career masterpiece
11. The central partnership challenge
12. Unproductive delays
13. Critically altering the problem statement
14. Strategy for the role
15. Finding the innovation opportunity
16. Dealing with a personal crisis
17. Innovation structure within the firm
18. Being innovative
19. Strategy to get the innovation role
20. Tactics to get the innovation role
21. Challenges in his role
22. Turning debilitating disadvantages into advantages
23. Day 1 in the new role
24. Meeting the firm’s head of strategy
25. Stepping back: what does the firm want/need
26. Defining innovation
27. What is innovation?
28. Announcing an innovation plan with fanfare
29. The real reason you are not a visionary
30. Using a business plan or learning as you go
31. You must know the numbers
32. Ignore best practice
33. Innovate inside the firm or at clients?
34. 8 meetings to gain trust without a business plan
35. Withdrawing from non-profits/charities/school board
36. Internal vs. external clients?
37. Replicating McKinsey’s Innovation practice is a bad idea
38. Financial targets for partnership and ideal clients
39. How did we create Andrew’s career strategy?
40. Falling in love with sexy ideas
41. Should the innovation practice act/look hip and/or cool?
42. Importance of private networking dinners
43. The importance of sticking to the critical path
44. What happens after the 8 tax partner meetings?
45. Keeping the burn low
46. Andrew’s plan for the pilot
47. Psychology of running the pilot
48. Listening to 1st workshop and teaching brainstorming
49. After the workshop
50. Should Andrew lead FIAB?
51. An insurgent mentality
52. Trauma in planning FIAB
53. Language degradation
54. Andrews three roles
55. 5 Month Update
56. How I work and think things through
57. Why internal resistance is a strategic weapon
58. Cultivating relationships from the workshops
59. Planning the pilot: Partner update
60. Editing the presentation – The idea
61. Using the presentation
62. Marital Problems for Andrew
63. Problems with the Partnership Counsellor
64. Is this idea really innovative?
65. The importance of saying no!
66. When to make the case for partnership
67. Critical insight from Workshop 1
68. Lack of an automated innovation process
69. Workshop 2: the big one
70. Buildup to the pilot
71. Balancing internal support with reality
72. Working with support services needs more authorization
73. Updating the innovation partner
74. All the leading ladies at an expensive dinner
75. Following up from the expensive dinner
76. Pimp, Napoleon, Hitler Analogies & Metaphors
77. Andrews key next step: explaining the pilot process
78. Coffee with Andrew’s allies within support service
79. What keeps me going
80. When do we create an innovation brand?
81. Airbnb Strategy: Internal Support Services Partner
82. The first pilot: background
83. Everything shared on Yammer: older version of Slack
84. Benefit 1: consolidating travel
85. Kathy and her team of vloggers
86. Benefit 2: delays in approvals
87. Benefit 3: avoiding integration costs
88. Benefit 4: normalizing discounts
89. Integrating SMS and basic updates: tags and links
90. Building the business case – via Yammer
91. Manipulating the system: Jamie Dimon rule
92. Major celebration: The Fat Hunters
93. Evolution & strategic rise of Kathy
94. Relationship between Andrew & myself
95. Building a grassroots innovation movement
96. Notice the pattern of replicability
97. Grilling the internal benchmarking team
98. Andrew is offered to tour the firm as an expert!
99. How did Andrew go AWOL within Tax for 3 months?
100. The pilot saved $7.12MM! Andrew’s star is born
101. The curse of marginal success
102. Reimbursing Andrew’s time costs
103. Breaking down the approach in the pilot
104. Critical technical problem
105. Critical Insights
106. Andrew’s partner meeting post the support services call
107. Partner dinner with Andrew
108. Wrapping up the first year
109. Comparison to another Big 4 Accounting Firm & Client
110. Calculating the $30MM number
111. Priorities for the year
112. Andrew’s growing results and name
113. The clam before the storm
114. Five critical presentations
115. Vision for innovation
116. Innovation approach
117. Rules for innovation
119. Innovation Program
120. Big Meeting: Updating the partner on what is the overall process
121. Update on Andrew’s Dinner
122. Meeting of the Innovation Committee
123. Making Andrew the Innovation leader
124. Accelerating Andrew’s partnership discussions
125. Expanding Andrews Budget
126. Cultivating the tax + internal support services partner relationship
127. Rolling out the process around the rest of support services
128. Reminder of the Rules of Innovation
129. Learning from the worst practices
130. Motivating for the team
131. Who were the first hires?
132. Defining a team
133. Permanent versus contractors
134. Centralized versus co-located
135. Cool / elitist versus practical
136. Full data sharing including emails
137. Major focus on customer service / unusual at a start-up
138. Setting up a rotation system
139. Setting rewards and remuneration
140. Setting titles
141. Setting performance management
142. Dress code
143. Finding a home for his team
144. Building their culture
145. Story of Blockbuster
146. People with fire in their belly usually do not work in consulting technology units
147. Motivation of internal tech teams is wrong
148. Committed funding: why, how much and how
150. Specs: high-level versus the detailed the teams wanted
151. Prepping for meeting with IT: how leverage works
152. First meeting with IT Consulting
153. Define customization
154. The incremental benefit of incremental changes
155. Second meeting with IT Consulting: problems with internal consulting technology units
156. Why not use contractors?
157. Moving from variable to fixed cost
158. Adapting Yammer: no bottom up building
159. Is free really free?
160. Will this work?
More to come…
Our commitment to client confidentiality requires some details to be altered.