First off, I hope everyone is traveling safely and the last few days of 2014 turns out to be as good as you want it to be. In the next few days our focus will shift entirely to the forthcoming power sector study.
We get a lot of reader comments via email, Skype and Whatsapp asking for updates and progress reports. Hopefully this email can answer all those questions and let you know our plans for the year ahead.
2014 was a big and critical year for us. We tried to lay the foundation for the future.
We had our 600th coaching client in 2014 and placed our 453th client at McKinsey or BCG. That is a big milestone for us because our placement rate for just McKinsey, BCG and Bain rose to 72% – the highest anywhere in the world. We believe a 75% placement rate is possible in 2015.
To be fair, 2014 started really slowly, within Firmsconsulting that is, even though we rolled out big changes externally. In February we launched Season 2 of The Consulting Offer with Kevin Coyne, former-McKinsey Worldwide Strategy Practice Co-Leader. Along with Season 1, TCO was and is a very popular program.
In June we launched the our first full strategy training study, a corporate strategy to merge three technology giants. Also, a very popular program, especially when we began the LAB study live blog which was the most popular page on our website in 2014.
In July we launched a strategy library with support videos we could not fit in the full strategy studies but we still felt were useful. Again, clients really liked this and many more modules will be loaded. There are now 5 modules loaded and we have 15 additional modules planned for 2015.
In August we began the real and live LAB US Retail Banking Market Entry Strategy study. That was a massive study set partly in Mexico and mostly in the US. A few days ago we began releasing the material from the LAB study. We introduced a very interesting podcast format to kick off the LAB release.
In July we also loaded all our podcasts on iTunes. All 289 podcasts are now easily available.
This grand experiment of running real studies and converting them into training material was a big success for us.
In October we released our real-time consulting CEO rankings and real-time consulting firms ranking along with 12 editorials that where ten pages in length each – so just the editorials where 120 pages of new analyses on consulting firms. This editorial received the most traffic: from McKinsey’s internal servers. We update the rankings weekly which is a fairly massive exercise of collecting and analyzing data. My Sundays are pretty spreadsheetish!
The interesting thing about all this is while we were busy, things were fairly quiet until November and then it just exploded. A LAB senior executive joined a rival financial services company and invited us to conduct a different strategy study. We were also recently contacted by another financial services institution for a strategy study and to build their training material.
All of this, of course, will be published on our website.
Which brings us to 2015.
The big change is that Firmsconsulting is now forced to have a full consulting capability. That is something we really tried to avoid. Yes, we are ex-strategy partners but until the LAB study, consulting was in our past. Yet, to run these studies we need to be able to deploy teams on the ground. We are in effect, consulting again.
Yet, our business model stays the same. While we conduct studies for banks, insurers, retailers and power utilities, we will still work on a subscription model where all our readers will have access to the studies. In other words, we are not running these studies for any other reason but to produce the world’s most realistic business training.
This is crucial to understand. We are conducting these studies to build out our library of training material.
With the LAB study we experimented with recording the client in audio. That was very popular and you should see more of that in the new studies.
On our footer and header navigation we have listed all the studies we have planned for 2015 and 2016 – it is a lot. This is the first one we are doing and it is exciting. Remember to subscribe for updates to each study – we use the count of subscribers as a vote to see which studies to release.
Case Interview Training – TCO III
We also have enormous plans for the case interview training. TCO III is now under development. We close off applications on 2 January 2015 and will begin shooting in February/March 2015.
A bigger, better and more effective program is planned. It will be hard to beat Seasons 1 and 2 but we believe there is always room for improvement.
Do not be fooled by the few lines of text dedicated to this space. It is a massive initiative with the results open to the public so failure to place anyone at McKinsey or BCG is a very public failure for us. Yet, in every season we have maintained a 50% success rate so we remain confident of at least equaling that in Season 3
We collected every email, comment and criticism sent about the website and reviewed them all. We will continue to invest heavily in the website through 2015 to make it more effective. We, admittedly, slowed down a little in the latter half of 2014 on this front but have a very robust pipeline of things to come.
It is always a problem of juggling priorities.
Some of the changes will be small but others very large. All of them will matter.
If you have any suggestions, send them here.
You will know that we personally respond to every email received. We do not outsource it to customer support in some far off land. We are always thinking of ways to better support subscribers and coaching clients, and you will see some new things coming out pretty soon.
It will be our focus in 2015 to work more intently with the clients we do have.
And finally, we will be bringing on board some new equity partners at Firmsconsulting on 1 January 2015.
Conclusion: 2014 was great, 2015 will be better.
A slow start to the year but a great finish from November because on the only two metrics that matters, referrals and impact, we excelled – clients saw the impact we made and our referrals went up. Remember, we do not advertise at all so rely solely on client referrals.
In terms of impact, TCO II and the LAB study made us incredibly proud of the changes we could make to lives across the world. And the most important thing is that we nurtured a community which shares our very strong values of principled business.
Enjoy the end of 2014.