I had great interest in reading the article by Pete Hayes from Chief Outsiders on how CEOs should select Management Consultants. Titled “CEO: The 7 C’s of Hiring Management Consultants” it provided a list of seven criteria for a CEO to assess the suitability of a management consultant.
It got me thinking about the way CMOs select their marketing management consultants (including pitch consultants, media consultants, media buying bench-markers and auditors, transformation experts and the like).
Do the same criteria apply and how well would TrinityP3 stack up against these selection criteria?
Self assessment is always fraught with danger being based often on a subjective perspective, but I will try to keep the assessment based on tangible proof and examples.
The seven selection criteria include:
- Credibility – Does their resume demonstrate success, progression and business maturity?
- Capability – How relevant is their experience to your needs?
- Curiosity – Do they dig out insights, or come in with answers?
- Courage – Will they speak up, even when unpopular?
- Chemistry – Do YOU get along with them?
- Culture – How do they fit in with your management team, and others?
- Company – Are they backed-up? Part of a firm? Pre-vetted? Proven?
So how do we stack up?
1. Credibility – Does our resume demonstrate success, progression and business maturity?
The measurement of success is fairly obvious. Since January 14, 2000 TrinityP3 has been working with major advertisers not just across Australia, but throughout Asia Pacific since 2007 and today around the world.
But it is not just the success of the individual projects with each of these organisations, it is also the fact that we have built and continue to enjoy long-term relationships with many of these organisations and the individuals too.
But the business has also progressed and matured successfully over that time. In the first few years, much of what we were doing was very much cost consulting. Our very first project, just days after opening the doors was looking at production costs for Australia’s largest retailer at the time. More than a decade ago this led to expanding the remit to include agency remuneration and agency selection.
With the rise of marketing procurement and the increased size and scope of many agency rosters, we developed methodologies to strategically align the roster to the marketing strategy using qualitative and quantitative techniques.
We also developed methodologies for measuring and encouraging collaboration across the agency roster and within marketing using Engagement Agreements and developing the Evalu8ing Collaboration, Engagement and Performance assessment platform.
More recently we have developed these methodologies further in response to the demands for marketing transformation. The role of technology and the changes to customer experience management for marketing is driving the need for independent advice on structure, platforms and implementation.
2. Capability – How relevant is our experience to your needs?
One of the challenges I realised early on was the diversity of capabilities required to manage the breadth and depth of the marketing function. This is why we developed a collective of specialist consultants within TrinityP3.
Some of these consultants have agency experience, some marketer experience and some both. All have a minimum of ten years experience in the their particular discipline, and often much more. This means we have no juniors or recent graduates learning on the job at your expense.
You can meet the TrinityP3 consultants here, and check out their LinkedIn profiles or watch them talking about their particular interests and competencies here “On the Couch”.
In the early days of TrinityP3 it was typical that consultants would work alone as many of the projects were very focused such as a production cost assessment or a media review.
But the type of projects and the demands of the marketing function means that often our projects will have teams of consultants working with our clients across an increasing range of disciplines and markets. One recent project had a project team of 12 consultants working across media, technology, search and production and across multiple markets.
It is this flexibility or nimbleness of being able to customise the resource mix to create project teams that are very specific addressing the needs of the project. But no matter what their capabilities, expertise or skills, there is one thing we certainly do bring to every project and every client and that is a fresh perspective. As we quote on our home page:
“We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” – Albert Einstein.
3. Curiosity – Do we dig out insights, or come in with answers?
Pete Hayes, quotes Charlie Green, the top contributing author of best-selling book ‘The Trusted Advisor” saying the killer attribute that would signal the potential success of management consultant is curiosity.
But curiosity is also essential in the creative process according to James Webb Young and his book “A technique for producing ideas” and more recently by my old Melbourne Advertising & Design Club Board member Matt Eastwood, Global ECD at JWT.
Our experience is that with the complexity and diversity of issues we face it is virtually impossible to know the exact solution. While our clients would often like us to be able to tell them the answer, it is usually a better outcome to intimately understand the problems or issues and circumstances and to then propose solutions.
To do this our consultants need to be curious. It is this curiosity and the discipline of our methodology or process to structure the data collection, analysis and insights that produces the best possible outcome for our clients.
4. Courage – Will we speak up, even when unpopular?
While we only work for advertisers and marketers and never for their agencies and suppliers, one of the questions we often get asked is how do the agencies feel about what we do? The answer is that while they may not always like it they largely respect our professionalism and balance. As proof I suggest checking out the agency testimonials here.
It is interesting because as independent consultants we often find their own processes and structures create many of the issues marketers and advertisers face and much of what we do is achieving alignment between the various stakeholders involved in the project to maximise performance.
While you may think it takes courage to highlight these issues, we believe we would be doing our client a disservice to not speak up on these issues, as the reason we are engaged is to provide a sustainable solution.
But we take the same approach with the industry at large. Our independence places us in a unique position to be able to provide a voice to the issues that are often suppressed in the industry by commercial considerations.
Perhaps the most high profile and the most recent is the issue of media transparency. Our position on this issue has lead us to be in conflict with a number of industry stakeholders including the Media Federation of Australia (MFA representing the media agencies) and the Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA representing the advertisers).
While some try and belittle our open and honest opinion on these issues as simply attention seeking we are motivated by being committed to participating in solving the issues and problems our clients face on an individual level and an industry level as well.
5. Chemistry – Do YOU get along with us?
At the personal level this is a challenge as I am aware there are people, some I have never met, that personally do not like me because of reputation. But the fact is, contrary to popular belief, TrinityP3 is not Darren Woolley.
I made a very deliberate decision when I started the business in 2000 that the name was not going to be an ego trip as the vision was to build a business beyond my personal capabilities. (Also, to be honest, Woolley Marketing Consultants does not fill me with confidence)
Today there are many markets and many projects where I am not directly involved, but instead my business partners, the management team and the consultants build chemistry and relationships with our clients. Chemistry is important, and can be a make or break issue if there is only a choice of one consultant and you do not like them, but TrinityP3 is more than one person.
6. Culture – How do we fit in with your management team, and others?
I am always curious about core values. It is very popular to define core corporate values, but often the result is prosaic and largely meaningless if reduced to nothing more than a list of words.
Don’t get me wrong, it is clear that organisations with purpose and values allow their employees and stakeholders to align to these values and produce greater outcomes and results through this alignment and collaboration.
My belief is that culture alignment between the client and the consultant is important. This does not mean lining up the corporate values side by side and ticking the boxes, but it does mean discussing the purpose of the project or engagement and sharing an understanding of the expectations in process and approach.
One thing we will always try to deliver is a range of solutions to ensure we can discuss and consider the consequences and the cultural appetite for the proposed solutions. When so many implementation projects fail due to lack of support from stakeholders, we have found that it is essential to ensure the solutions are aligned to the culture of the organisation and that means aligned to the stakeholders within that organisation.
7. Company – Are we backed-up? Part of a firm? Pre-vetted? Proven?
We have previously written about the limitations of the one-man band consultants. TrinityP3 is certainly not one of the big consulting firms, but that is because our work is relatively specialist and perhaps niche, even when considering the marketing discipline, even before you look at the broader business.
TrinityP3 is a consultancy that has grown over the past two decades across multiple markets with one aim and that is to improve the marketing output of every single organisation that engages us.
If you have worked with us I would be interested in knowing how we stack up from your perspective across these seven criteria for selecting a management consultant. Please feel free to share with us either face to face or by email, phone or on social media.
If we haven’t worked together yet then I invite you to meet with either myself or one of the TrinityP3 team. We would not only like the opportunity to get to know you and your marketing challenges better, we would also like the feedback on how we compare to others you have worked with in the past.
As Pete Hayes concludes, hiring a management consultant is a little different from making an executive hire. You’re looking for someone to quickly engage and add value. The alignment to your needs – and to your values – is critical to maximise your return from this strategic investment.
TrinityP3 has developed a suite of products aimed at increasing your marketing performance to achieve improved business outcomes. Find out more here