Tiny young turtle trying to eat a strawberry that's equal to it's size

In any consulting firm we always want to maximise our profit and have as many customers as possible, which may tempt us to be everything to everyone.  You may hear “We go for everything as a business as we increase our probability of success.  We look to grow our revenue, our contacts and our market presence by hard work, by sheer luck and good fortune but no long term plan”. These are common sentiments of firms that are very reactive, and struggle to build a proactive consulting practice based on a clear strategy, clear markets and discipline to say no.  Reacting to everything may work in the short term but in the middle to longer term cracks will appear and impact employee engagement, delivery on projects and client satisfaction.

It is beneficial and necessary to know and understand the focus in the long term, however for some the big picture can seem out of reach or overwhelming – like an elephant.  How do you eat an elephant? The answer is simple: one bite at a time!  This analogy is very relevant for focussing leadership teams. Patrick Lencioni’s new book The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business suggests you break the elephant down to 90 day planning cycles. It is an exceptional approach as key focus areas are established, and the theme for the next 90 days is agreed upon uniting the leadership team to deliver around these areas.   90 day plans also clarify the leadership teams key communication themes and drive accountability when reviewing progress against actions for the quarter.  Getting this process up and running as a quarterly initiative allows the entire team to come together to reflect on performance, celebrate wins and share lessons learnt.  Then the next 90 days start with a new theme, actions and key focus areas that everyone in the team can see and aim to achieve.

With a detailed 90 day plan in place, everyone understands what’s important and why it’s important. This will boost your team performance significantly.

The discipline to say no when other items pop up might be the hardest thing to do. New markets, unexpected crises and the increasing rate of change are all potential distractions.  Leaders in consulting firms must remember that success in delivering against strategy is not always about what you do, it is more often about what you choose not to do.  Know when to say no, have the discipline to stay focused and you will reap the rewards.  Your team will thank you for removing distractions and silencing white noise, allowing them to focus on the compass that points to your firm strategic goals.