Today we are very proud to announce that we have been shortlisted by the Management Consulting Association. The winner is announced in April, and there are still interviews to go, but irrespective it is a fabulous accolade for the team. It has taken us just under 4 years to get here, having started with a single seat in a co-working space in central London in March 2013. As a business we are still young, but now feel that we fully understand what we want to be famous for (i.e. building customer-led businesses) and have moved from being a start-up to a scaling business, working with clients across multiple industries and geographies.

But why care about a glass plaque on the shelf in the office? Actually, it is for a number of reasons.

Firstly, awards are an important aspect of our approach to working with companies. On every client engagement, we want to be partners, not suppliers. This means building a relationship through both the good and the hard times. Our role is to support, cajole, drive innovation, bring expertise and accelerate. Our role is also to critique, challenge and push – we need to have the honest conversations where we can tell each other that our / their breath smells (metaphorically in terms of the project, not as a result of halitosis).  We want to be holding hands on the journey with every company that we work with. Ultimately, the culmination of this journey is to walk on stage together at the black tie event in order to pick-up the award for “best XYZ of the year”. By setting this vision with each client on Day 1 of an engagement, we set the expectation that this is not just about doing a job, but doing the best possible job.

Secondly, awards are equally as important for the individuals we work with as they are for the companies themselves. We need to think not only about building the solution for the organisation, but also consider the personal and professional drivers of those that are involved. This is about building engagement, creating a sense of team spirit, challenging cultural norms and helping individuals progress. Awards are useful within this context in two ways. Personally, they provide the team with an acknowledgement of the hard work that they have done – a sense of achievement. Professionally, awards are also a great tool to enhance the CV and support future career growth. By understanding the behavioural drivers of those we work with, we can do far more than deliver a project.

Thirdly, from an internal perspective, challenging ourselves to focus on awards as the ultimate goal of every client project is a great tool to keep us honest. As we grow, we need to avoid a drop in quality as we take on more staff and undertake more projects. The simple question of “what will turn this from great to award winning?” at each team meeting is a great way to make staff think differently about their approach and outcomes.

Finally, it is a great excuse to bring together the teams that have worked on a project in order to celebrate success (something that we often fail to do often enough).

We remain far from perfect as a business. We still have a massive amount to learn. We may or may not win the award. However, irrespective it is still a great step on a journey that has a long way to go.

Article by Rob Millar