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The Success Ladder: A Simple, Powerful Tool for Your Consulting Firm

You can install a simple, powerful tool at your consulting firm that will stimulate progress toward your goals. In a nutshell, the Success Ladder captures the best of your successes and supports the process of continuously raising your game.

There’s explosive elegance in combining a couple of basic principles to produce spectacular results.

For example, Principle #1: Frozen bananas are mashable and sweet; Principle #2: Cacao is the essence of life. Combine those and… BOOM! Chocolate ice cream.

An arguably more useful example for your consulting firm:

Principle #1: Success begets success.

Principle #2: Examining a result reveals how to replicate it.

Combine those and… BOOM! Success Ladder.

The Success Ladder is a straightforward exercise that enables you to strengthen your consulting firm by building on what you’re doing well.

Reflecting on your consulting firm’s wins is uplifting, inspiring and frequently more effective than focusing on your errors, missteps and burnt brownies.

Even the obstacles and shortcomings that hold your consulting firm back emerge in a more digestible form when revealed through the lens of a success.

Below is a Success Ladder constructed from seven questions that build on each other, from the ground up. Plus, I’ve included a couple of “pro tips” for using the tool effectively.

Before you step onto the ladder, identify an accomplishment.

Your win could be recent or distant, big or small.

You may find large, recent victories easier to replicate and enhance; however, examining notable feats from your consulting firm’s past may remind you of important habits and activities you’ve let gather dust.


7-Step Success Ladder

Step 1: If the success is recent or current, how can you leverage it or expand upon it?

Step 2: Why did your success happen?

Step 3: What could you reproduce or repeat?

Step 4: What could you turn into a habit, process or ritual?

Step 5: Who could you roll your success learnings out to, so that they can replicate it?

Step 6: Given your achievement and understanding of it, what inspiring win can you imagine?

Step 7: What action(s) will you take to leap to the next level of success?

Pro tip #1: Climb your Success Ladder every day.

Daily application will noticeably raise your consulting firm’s performance.

Spend 30 seconds identifying the achievement you want to explore, then two minutes contemplating each question on the Success Ladder and recording your answers.

You’ll have elevated your game in under 15 minutes!

Pro tip #2: Sporadically examine others’ successes.

Occasionally deconstruct other consulting firms’ wins. The novel perspective can inject game-changing learning.

Don’t review others’ wins all the time, though. If you constantly attempt to imitate others, you’ll spin yourself and your consulting firm in circles.

What’s one success—even a small one—you’d like to replicate?


8 Comments
  1. Sarah Sonnenfeld
    June 17, 2020 at 8:16 am Reply

    Nice idea. If you combine this with the idea of a gratitude journal, you could day by day build a practice that works and which you enjoy!

    • David A. Fields
      June 17, 2020 at 9:13 am Reply

      That’s a fun addition, Sarah. I hope reflecting on your wins is enjoyable in and of itself, of course! That said, noting what you’re grateful for is another habit that’s well worth incorporating into your daily routine.

      Thanks for the important reminder, Sarah.

  2. Cameron Moss
    June 17, 2020 at 10:25 am Reply

    This echoes advice I received from a Senior Partner at a consulting firm when going through performance feedback: “You will succeed more and enjoy it more by focusing on the things you do really well (and that are distinctive) rather than trying to get better at things OTHERS do well – so long as you are competent at all the necessary skills, we will all benefit from your building on and sharing your strengths”

    Thanks for the reminder and the handy ladder!

    • David A. Fields
      June 17, 2020 at 10:45 am Reply

      Well put. Fixing your faults and correcting your weaknesses will never advance you. It will merely stop you from slipping backwards and making errors. To move forward, you need to build on your strengths.

      Thanks for adding your experience and wisdom to the conversation today, Cameron.

  3. Troy
    June 18, 2020 at 10:24 am Reply

    Another concise, actionable, powerful tip! Thanks David! It’s stuff like this that keeps me anticipating your posts.

    • David A. Fields
      June 18, 2020 at 10:27 am Reply

      Thanks for the feedback, Troy. It’s positive, engagement from smart consultants like you that keeps me writing articles!

  4. Eric Cooper
    June 23, 2020 at 5:09 pm Reply

    Reflections of past results, leads to outsized returns in the the future. Identifying as well, the poor results, and what can come from that potential pivot also can lead to a brighter future..

    No doubt – Cacao and bananas make a good combination!

    • David A. Fields
      June 23, 2020 at 5:21 pm Reply

      Today I added some coconut milk to the frozen bananas and cacao powder. Yum!!

      More importantly, you’re absolutely right that reflection creates improvement. We don’t learn when we do, we learn when we think about what we do.

      I’m glad you chimed in, Eric.

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