Sometimes strategy and business development work require a bit of external input. That’s why many have consultants around every now and then, to broaden the experience base and obtain specialist insights from different businesses. But why do one so easily trust external strategy consultants when they claim to know your business better than you do? Yes, they are great at presenting what others have done and providing advice. Yes, they are usually smart people. But are they accountable for your success (or failure) in the long run? Do they really beat the collective intelligence of your own organization?

Well, when it comes to accountability it will still be you, in the midst of your own organization, trying to deliver on both growth and profitability. On many occasions, I have had executives tell me, “We just need these consultants to tell us what we already know, so the board is happy”. At other times, managers have showed me hundreds of PowerPoint slides, wondering what the heck to do with them. Is this an appropriate way to hedge against failure, saying, “We just did what the consultants told us to do”? I’m betting that you have an idea about what’s wrong and what needs to be improved. Perhaps you have an idea of how things should be, but you don’t quite know how to get it done or where to start. But why is that so hard then?

“Allow the collective intelligence of your own organization to perform the needed improvements.”

I believe a large part of the truth lies in the way organizations work with business and operational development. While working with large businesses in different parts of the world, my experience is that in roughly 9 cases out of 10, the work is notably fragmented. It is distributed in different business units or functions, and usually with low systemization. In most cases there is an outspoken fear of being constrained by any kind of corporate way of working or losing the agility and the ability to proactively change. I agree that a competitive and ambitious organization needs to be agile and proactive. But that does not mean refraining from using common ways of working, a common language when designing, testing and evolving into a next generation business, and a common digital platform to manage all the knowledge and information captured in the processes of improving your business. 

“The future success of your organization lies in mastering complexity better than your competition”

The benefits are considerably greater when there is transparency and common understanding of the challenges residing within the organization. When transparency and common understanding of the challenges residing within the organization exists, the benefits and following results are far superior. Throughout history, we have seen it many times. If we let more people in on the problem, we will derive a better solution for a greater number of people. There is also less risk of sub-optimizing, but it requires smarter collaborative approaches to the increasingly more complex challenges.

The future success of your organization lies in mastering complexity better than your competition.  To achieve this, you need to engage your entire organization in the challenge and utilize new digital capabilities to help you enhance and test new ideas.

These digital capabilities enable smarter collaboration, relating to balancing different portfolios of business models, product & services, R&D, competence, customers, markets, competitors, suppliers, change initiatives, performance metrics, etc. The list is long.

This is the foundation for a continuously learning organization which can retain knowledge, information and data as we evolve. This is “Digital Twin of your Organization” technology.

And of course, you should still use the services of smart consultants and add their knowledge and skills into your collective intelligence. But don’t let them drive your strategic agenda. Instead, why not do more of that fun and exciting work yourself?