Whether your consulting firm employs 100, 10 or 1 consultant, your firm has a culture. That culture is a clockwork of choices that determine your firm’s long-term success and how rewarding it is for you to lead the practice.
If you don’t actively craft your consulting firm’s culture, you still have one. Like a dinner of whatever’s left over in the fridge, it reflects your tastes, but it’s happenstance, usually uninspiring, and typically lacking in tiramisu.**
You may have elegantly crafted mission, vision and values statements. Those are a good start; however, they don’t capture your consulting firm’s culture.
Culture reflects behavior when your mission, vision, and values conflict.
Your consulting firm’s culture is about choices. Specifically, your choices because you’re at the top.
To actively shape your consulting firm’s culture, follow the steps below:
Prioritize your consulting firm’s values by setting pairs of values against each other. Illustrate the behavior you expect with instructive examples.
First: Objectives and Values
Second: Conflict Hierarchy
Third: Keystone Choices
Prioritize your consulting firm’s values by setting pairs of values against each other.
Illustrate the behavior you expect with instructive examples.
This may seem like a lot of work. Here’s the good news: if your leadership team consists of a handful of people or just yourself, you can knock this out in less than a day.
It’s a day that will pay out with a more productive consulting firm. You’ll enjoy fewer hiring mistakes, fewer internal conflicts, less stress and, ultimately, a far higher likelihood of achieving your objectives.
Below are a few examples of values that could be important and in conflict.
Delight Clients vs. Work/Life Balance
Independence vs. Collaboration
Professionalism vs. Family Atmosphere
Innovation vs. Efficiency
Integrity vs. Drive for Success
I’d love to hear your example: What are two values that are important in your consulting firm, and which takes precedence.
Text and images are © 2023 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.
Stark shifts in culture and language can be disorienting. Arriving in London last night after a month in Italy, I automatically thanked the English passport control officer with “Grazie.” (And as lovely coasting next to the Thames in a black cab is, it’s a bit jarring after boating to Capri!)
Quick thought, can you turn your questions into a PDF values/conflict worksheet to make it easier to follow your process?
I just finished writing my values and never considered the potential for conflict. Thank you for the insight.
Good idea, Kyle. We’ll add it to our collection of exercises and worksheets for small consulting firms.
Yes, realizing that conflict is where culture is defined, was a helpful insight for me too. Since we all obligate ourselves in so many ways, conflicts are bound to arise. We’re defined by those obligations we choose to honor.
I appreciate you chipping in the suggestion, Kyle.
You’re my kind of guy … wish I was in Italy, instead we got 15″ of snow yesterday :(. Love your articles David, one of the few that I read and keep. Enjoyed your book as well, practical. Thanks for what you do!
Wow. 15″ of snow?! Glad I didn’t read that before I boarded the plan back to the States or I might have stayed in Italy! Thanks for your support, Ian and for being part of this community.