Don't add to it, offer a balance through experienced practitioners


Let’s assume for a moment that the assignment has been procured by an SVP (a senior resource, but not necessarily an Exco resource).

Let’s also assume, the project has alignment to the strategic plan for the business. So, the initiative has buy-in, budget, and an outline scope documented. You’re set to mobilise.

It quickly becomes apparent that the SVP has personal aspirations, a motivation to land this project as they see it as a steppingstone to EVP. They’re driven, they operate at a very fast pace, are laser focussed, and will subconsciously be using the consulting firm to help them achieve their goal(s).

The dilemma – experience tells you that there will be collateral damage brought on by a delivery approach that targets execution, at any cost, by ‘almost’ any means. The damage could range from, one and done for the consulting firm, broken relationships that restrict the SVP from achieving their goal regardless of the fact the project may have met its targets, disenfranchised project resource, negative P&L impact, project over-spend. How should the consulting firm operate in such a scenario?

No two projects, clients or assignments are the same. It’s important to profile your stakeholders, to understand their motivations, work ethic, behaviours. If you have a sponsor with a loud bark, a tenacious type, perhaps someone who knows better but is unwavering in their approach (we all know someone), it’s going to be very important that you do not to add to this, rather, you should seek to offer a capability which balances, even compliments the style.

" The more robust the project materials, the better chance the SVP will be prepared to tackle the important interventions". EA Partner, Warren Kwei

Strategic projects are often complex. Striking the balance between constant pressure and a fear of failure requires a measured response. It demands the consulting firm seek certainty on the mandate, to document the project materials, to ensure risks are under active management control, to form the conversations around the numbers.

“The more robust the project materials, the better chance the SVP will be prepared to tackle the important interventions”. The bark will be reduced, at least targeted, and the delivery teams will better understand their priorities as a result.

The Insight:

It’s imperative that consulting firms work to manage their stakeholders, vs. stakeholders managing the consultants. In this scenario, over time, the stakeholder will have an optimal chance of landing the project with limited collateral damage. Offering a mirror image capability to a client is rarely helpful in this scenario. In such situations, look to offer balance and experience, both in managing difficult stakeholders, and operating in complex, political environments.


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