The year that was 2014 was a pretty tiring year for us. We accomplished a lot and we hope everyone noticed the changes we made, and hopefully did not notice the mistakes we made! Given the hectic schedule we kept throughout the year and given the pretty significant initiatives we have for 2015 – though more on that later – we have decided that for the first time in 4 years we will close our offices between 24 December 2014 and 2 January 2015.
Closing the office does not mean we are completely away. It actually means we are working on some interesting things behind the scenes but need the dedicated blocks of time to see it through. We will still respond to emails and comments on the website, though expect some delays.
I suppose the main news is that we will be running Firmsconsulting from various locations all over the world next year. We can confirm we will be at Stanford and Santa Clara in California next year March. We will be in Moscow in June/July and again in California in September. Other locations will be released, along with events, once we confirm them. We are running a host of events both for our case interview and executive programs. It will be very interesting and we will post more comments.
Our corporate strategy and market entry strategy studies where very successful – far more than we expected it to be. We are very appreciative of all our clients who made this possible and find the content so stimulating. We are therefore going to invest substantial resources behind new studies. This is one of the reasons we are closing over Xmas – it gives us time to complete the planning for the studies to come.
Strategically “Doing Good”
Firmsconsulting is a very socially conscious and values-based firm. We do things that matter. Each year we wonder if we should take a day, week or month away to go off and build a school in Ghana, teach inner city kids in Detroit or build homes for the poor in Indonesia. While all those things will make us feel good about ourselves, I am not sure they are that helpful. Yes, they will help a few kids but the impact is minimal. If that is the level of impact you want to have, that is fantastic. The world needs more people like you.
Yet, there is a philosophical angle. We strongly believe that if you find your job so unfulfilling that you need to undertake social safaris yearly to feel good about yourself, then you need a new job since you should feel as if your job fulfills a higher purpose. So, save your money from the social safari and find a job where you can make a difference.
One of the most influential articles I ever read was by Porter and Kramer in the HBR. The authors say that successful companies do not stop their business for a few hours or days to go off and undertake social causes unrelated to their core business. No, you need to find a social cause that is intrinsically linked to your business so that by pursing the social cause you further your own business model. Social causes should not be an appendage because you tend to ignore appendages.
Social causes should certainly not be cost centres.
So, we are not going to build schools, homes or teach inner city kids, as deserving as they may be. We thought about this long and hard, and looked for the underlying drivers of the problems. We looked at all the isolated problems like lack of housing infrastructure, lack of schooling infrastructure etc., and wanted to see what all social safaris need to be successful.
For example, building a new home for a family in central Africa will only add value if their is rule of law, sewage, water, electricity, access to transport and medicine.
In other words, all those social safaris need to have certain elements in place to succeed. But those elements, call them institutional voids or systemic failures, are the real problems. No matter how many schools you build, it will not help if kids are not vaccinated. And vaccinating just one school of kids does not help if the healthcare system is failing.
This is what we have decided to do. We have picked one of the biggest systemic failures in a major emerging economy and the study we have been negotiating for early 2015, after the LAB Market Entry Study, is to send in our team to tackle the problem.
We will work with the largest company managing the problem and report everything back in real-time on this website with all the analyses, recommendation, power points etc, packaged and presented as part of our strategy studies. In other words, it will be a full-blown strategy study, like the LAB study, for a major company that just happens to be on the front-lines of doing something remarkable to change the world.
This is the perfect intersection of philanthropy and sticking to what we do best. The overview of that study will be released in a few days. It will be the most challenging study we have ever undertaken and our results will be public – failure is not an option we can afford.
We hope you enjoy it.