Is strategy consulting ready for its future?

Some time ago there were voices that predicted the demise of traditional strategy consulting. Although there has been a noticeable decline in demand for conventional strategy consulting for some years now, is it precisely this type of consulting that is experiencing a revival today? Many factors have contributed to the fact that today’s clients have different demands on strategy consulting than in the last three decades, when strategy consulting consisted of providing clients with intelligent management tools (BCG Matrix, Porter, etc.) or of developing analytically sound recommendations and forward-looking strategy papers.

Something happens! – Been there, seen that, done that

Probably the Irish rock band had not the market realities facing companies today in mind when they released their new album back in 1998. Nevertheless, both the band and album name are suitable for describing the reality of strategy consulting today: it has to find answers to

  • new challenges such as brexit, trade conflicts, disruption, new technologies, which all lead to uncertainties in companies
  • the fact that “classic consulting strategies” often do not help companies because they are “imposed on” from outside, but are not supported by the organization
  • to the increasing complexity of developing and establishing sustainable strategies, since successful transformations must take many aspects into account, ranging from the speed of market changes, to technologies and interfaces to customers, the own organization and the people involved
  • to the necessary “opening up of organizations” or overcoming of boundaries within and between organizations as well as between sectors and markets in order to effectively and efficiently obtain the necessary knowledge and innovative impulses for their own strategic orientation.

How does this affect “ideal” strategy advice of the future? Although strategy development is probably more than ever a highly creative process, it requires credible experts who “have seen the world out there before”, have already found and implemented solutions – across market and industry boundaries and interdisciplinary boundaries. The knowledge of the consultants and their experience guarantee the value they deliver – namely, finding solutions to questions regarding competitive strategy, innovation management or reacting to industry changes.

«Less Mandays – Higher Impact»: What consulting company can do this?

There will still be a market for the large, well-known consultancies that design comprehensive strategy concepts with subsequent complex change programs and, if necessary, implement these. The global dimension of many such projects also requires a critical size. The big challenge for the big strategy houses, however, is to really provide an end-to-end, interdisciplinary and integrative approach with seamless collaboration across different teams and to be able to change their traditional business models in order to offer alternative delivery models without being priced out of the market.
In addition, there will be a large number of functional and industry specialists, either from the world of classic management consulting, IT consulting, agencies or auditors. These operate as senior experts, sparring partners, moderators or coaches and trainers for strategy processes and, due to their structures, are able to deploy smaller teams or offer selective support in order to leverage and further develop the know-how for strategy development available in client organizations. Their challenges are to build the broad range of expertise for end-to-end solutions and, in an increasingly global economy, to combine professional competence with international delivery capabilities in order to achieve critical mass and to be able to make the necessary investments in the further development of their consulting services.

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