An overview of strategy consultants
Strategy consultants are overrated.
Sure, hiring outside expertise can help your team with competitive analyses and market strategy.
But they’re not a quick fix — or even a cheap, scalable one. The truth? There are more effective ways to build strategy and drive outcomes if you look inside your organization.
Traditional strategy building is a top-down approach where C-level executives and consultants prepare strategies behind closed doors.
But, with radically inclusive attitudes developing around in-house collaboration, it begs the question: do you still need to hire a strategy consultant from outside your company?
In this article we explore:
- What is a strategy consultant?
- What are the benefits of a strategy consultant?
- 4 huge problems with management consulting services in 2022
- The future of strategy without a strategy consultant
Would you like to learn how you can better map your company strategy without strategy consultants? Get in touch.
What is a strategy consultant?
Let’s start with the basics. A strategy consultant is a third-party expert who offers outside perspectives and specialist advice on a company’s challenges to help them find ways to improve decision-making and long-term planning.
Also known as management consultants, these experts assist clients with complex problem solving around core business activities and growth initiatives.
For example, reputable consultancies like Booz Allen, McKinsey & Company, and Oliver Wyman have thousands of experts who can help with corporate strategy, mergers, or developing a digital strategy to enter a new market.
Even though we believe there’s a better way than to hire a consultant, they still come with some benefits.
What are the benefits of a strategy consultant?
Before we start introducing a new way of implementing strategy, let’s consider why companies use outside strategy consultants. The traditional strategic planning model of hiring a freelance consultant offers several advantages:
Like a true mercenary, consultants can remain focused and neutral while making recommendations without any bias influenced by office politics. They’re also more likely to speak their mind, which offers fresh perspectives your core team members might miss (or be cautious of voicing).
Strategy consulting firms bring extensive experience in niche fields of business. With such deep industry knowledge, they can provide comprehensive analyses, detailed data reports, and industry forecasts that enhance your market research.
Sometimes, a lack of resources and technical know-how can pump the brakes on your business growth. But with the advice of a knowledgeable third-party management consultancy, you can unlock more of your team’s potential.
4 huge problems with management consulting services in 2022
It's hard to argue that strategy mapping and high-level execution can't improve business operations. So, what's our beef with strategy consultants? It's time to take a peek behind the curtain at the truth about strategy consulting in the 2020s. It isn't pretty.
High costs and no guarantees
Hiring a consultant isn't something you do on a whim — it has to make sense on your balance sheet. It’s hard to justify an expensive hire that’ll have to return year after year to give you new ideas and frameworks to work with.
And that’s not all — there are no guarantees with hired guns.
A consultant is not a solution for your strategy struggles. Even if you do your due diligence and bring in a recommended consultant with a sparkling reputation, you’re still taking a risk.
Consultants can only implement systems, really. They can't actually provide real-time guidance and advice when you’re creating your goals for the year. They often won’t track your strategy execution and progress. Consultants won’t join team meetings and track alignment between teams. Their interaction is often limited to C-level executives, working with an incomplete picture of the company and the state of the strategy.
Outside help can be out of touch
Many consultants have their preferred methods. You might expect a customized strategy but end up with a one-size-fits-all approach that doesn't quite cut it.
The reality is, your most capable in-house employees have a better sense of potential organizational improvements than any third-party strategy consultants who are detached from your brand values and company culture.
Suppose you have concerns about managing the budget or finding someone who can deliver a tailor-made strategy for your company. Pause before pulling the trigger on a huge investment. The answer is not always outside the company. Often, it's right outside the boardroom.
There’s a better way to use your resources
Hiring a suitable strategy consultant takes time and effort, as well as the aforementioned financial costs that eat into company budgets.
Your employees are your biggest asset. As you allocate more of your budget to upskill your employees, you help them take more advantage of their roles within the company and connect to the company vision. In return, they’ll help you identify and capitalize on opportunities that will drive better business outcomes.
Ultimately, this democratic approach to strategy makes it easier to share information, spark innovation, and scale across business units.
Suddenly, there’s no need to search for and hire an outside consultant every December when the planning begins. Leaning on inside resources offers a more effective and scalable approach.
Digital tools help your team to take charge of strategy
Technology increases operational efficiency — it’s undeniable. Deloitte reports that companies with a high level of digital maturity earned a 43% increase in all financial metrics.
Digital transformation can accelerate business progression and help your company dream bigger and execute better. The right digital tools improve alignment and communication between teams.
Strategy execution software brings together strategy planning, execution, and reporting software to offer employees a user-friendly way of collaborating on the organization’s goals.
With a greater focus on execution and digital operations, you can empower your people to take ownership of your company strategy and accelerate the process — without the need for outside help.
The future of strategy without a strategy consultant
The status quo of traditional consultancy models is unsustainable. It’s not broken yet, but it's not future-proof either. If you want your teams to perform meaningful work and hit your goals for growth and innovation year after year, the old way is the wrong approach.
A bottom-up model that gives employees a more active role in strategic planning helps connect departments and improve alignment on all stages of your strategy map.
How the Cascade strategy execution platform is changing the game
The Cascade Strategy Execution Platform has a simple yet effective approach that helps you involve every person in the strategy-building process. Through this model, employees can see how everything falls into place and understand their everyday work connects to the goals and bigger picture.
Here are several critical elements of our platform:
- Aligned mapping: You can build an in-house business strategy for your organization in our centralized online dashboard. Team members at every level can access the projects and key performance indicators (KPIs) they need, which helps improve company alignment. Visual representations of business goals increase accountability.
- Action and execution: You have simple tools to develop company maps and dashboards that encourage activity execution, closing the plan-to-execution gap.
- Data-based adaptation: Your team can get insights into the outcomes of their daily activities and make strategic improvements. Collected data shows your business performance on the platform, allowing you to make informed decisions — no need to use a consultant. Reports compile according to your outlined strategy map so all KPIs adjust to the goals.
The Cascade Strategy Execution Platform helps you build and create a unified vision for your business and drives strategy execution — without any consultants. There’s no miscommunication between teams and no limits for your strategic growth.
Best of all, you can give employees a voice in your strategy to dream bigger, execute better, and drive growth from within.
It’s time to rely on your team
Strategy consultants can help you reimagine your business processes and correct sub-optimal decision-making in your company. But is it the most effective way in 2022?
We think not. If you rely on legacy views, outside experts, and siloed structures, these crutches will do little for team morale and sustainable growth. The wrong tools for strategy will soon leave you in the dust of your competitors.
A focus on internal planning takes strategy away from CEOs and hired guns and puts it into the hands of your employees. With automation and intuitive digital apps, you can make strategy available with a bottom-up model for company-wide strategy mapping.
As you leave behind yesterday's tech and methods and embrace a new, radically human approach to strategy, all your employees, from entry-level to C-Suite, can better connect with and contribute to your company's vision.
Get in touch with Cascade to learn more about our Strategy Execution Platform and how you can better map your company strategy.