Disrupting Management Consulting: How Knowledge + Network is Key to Tangible Outcomes
By Andrea Hoffman, Culture Shift Labs
Some moments are uniquely transformational, and this is one of those times. Economic disruption related to the recent pandemic, social upheaval surrounding the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, and a rapid transition to remote work have collectively made change an operational imperative.
Simply put, this is a moment of forced innovation, requiring businesses to rethink their methods to produce better outcomes. As a result, many companies are turning to consultants, hoping that new ideas and fresh insights can propel their businesses forward and provide a competitive advantage.
In response, major consulting firms are pursuing acquisitions to meet surging client demand and shifting expectations. Meanwhile, there is tremendous pressure to deliver real outcomes and impact as companies voraciously search for experts that operate outside of the big-box consulting firms.
In other words, the consulting space is being reimagined as companies turn to new models and existing methodologies to deliver transformational results at a critical time. This tidal wave of change is especially noteworthy when big-box consultancies don’t offer what this moment is requiring or are cost-prohibitive. Often, these models emphasize network, connecting the top diverse talent with job opportunities, making change happen in a real and meaningful way, something Culture Shift Labs knows something about.
As businesses seek to remake themselves to meet the moment, here are three consulting trends that are disrupting existing practices.
While many companies are pursuing holistic transformation, the top leadership positions remain stubbornly unchained. For instance, according to The Wall Street Journal, Black professionals hold just 3 percent of executive or senior-level roles.
If change starts at the top, then transformation has a long way to go.
Tim Ryan, the U.S. chairman and senior partner at PwC, is working to change that narrative, creating CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion, the largest CEO-driven business commitment to advance diversity and inclusion in the workplace. The commitment challenges companies to sign a pledge to pursue equity as the first step toward meaningful change, pushing organizations to revitalize their c-suite with equitable and representative leadership.
Meanwhile, Mckinsey & Company’s Black Executive Leadership Program, a training initiative for senior executives looking to attain c-suite leadership positions, is working on developing highly talented minority executives, preparing them to ascend the ranks at today’s leading companies.
Together, these demonstrate the preeminence of c-suite revitalization, recognizing talent maturation as a critical part of any diversity and inclusion priority.
Minority-led startups have an opportunity to build foundational companies predicated on diversity and inclusion. Unfortunately, many minority-led startups fail to reach their full potential, which Ernst and Young’s Entrepreneur Access Network is looking to fix. The cohort program teams with Black and Latinx founders to provide early-stage financing and scalability capacity.
For more developed companies, developing internal talent represents a path forward. Morgan Stanley’s Multicultural Innovation Lab, an in-house accelerator that promotes financial inclusion and provides access to capital for early-stage technology and technology-enabled companies, presents a different model for creating a continuous pipeline of minority talent.
In addition, Goldman Sachs’ Launch with GS program is investing $1 billion to provide capital to women, Black, Latinx, and other diverse entrepreneurs, operating under the understanding that “diverse teams drive strong returns.”
Together, these initiatives reimagine what consulting looks like by nurturing pipeline development as a repeatable, scalable process for improving holistic outcomes.
Networking & Connections
Ultimately, diversity and inclusion efforts are predicated on connections. Otherwise, they are just good ideas or strategies on paper. Personal and professional connections (also known as “social capital”) often dictate hiring decisions with as much as 80 percent of all jobs being acquired through this interpersonal approach.
That’s why Culture Shift Labs pioneered the Knowledge + NetworkTM model, which combines our community of accomplished Black and Latino leaders across industries, including CTOs, CMOs, sales executives, technologists, health care executives, engineers, digital leaders, venture and private equity investors, inventors, accomplished entrepreneurs, pioneers and more — with their expansive extended networks.
Using insights from data analytics, surveys, assessments, and one-on-one interviews, we curate the best talent to empower organizations to achieve tangible outcomes.
Simply put, we are the relational introduction that drives results and achieves objectives.
Looking back, 2021 will either be remembered as a catalyst for real change or another missed opportunity that further erodes businesses’ ability to maximize their potential. While the old consulting models are being questioned, modified, and improved, there is an opportunity to create real change that optimizes business outcomes, enhances social impact, creates dynamic, sustainable companies both now and in the future.
Andrea Hoffman is an advisor, dealmaker, strategist, speaker, author, and founder & CEO of the diversity and innovation management consulting firm Culture Shift Labs (CSL) and Culture Shifting Weekends (CSW). She’s the nation’s leading diversity and innovation expert and is a confidential advisor to Tech, F500s, Non-Profits, the Investor Community, CEOs, millionaires and billionaires. As the co-author of Black is the New Green: Marketing to Affluent African Americans and $50 BILLION Dollar Boss: African American Women Sharing Stories of Success in Entrepreneurship and Leadership, she has been at the forefront of, and personally dedicated, to racial equality since 1999.