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Organising and sustaining internal consultancy


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Presentation on organising and sustaining internal consultancy delivered at the CASS Business School on behalf of the Institute of Consulting by Andrew Sturdy from the University of Bristol and Nick Wylie from Oxford Brookes University

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Organising and sustaining internal consultancy

  1. 1. ORGANISING AND SUSTAINING INTERNAL CONSULTANCY Andrew Sturdy, University of Bristol Nick Wylie, Oxford Brookes University
  2. 2. AGENDA <ul><li>9.45 – 10.05 Introductions </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Veronica Hope-Hailey, Cass Business School </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Caroline Lumb, Head of Institute of Consulting </li></ul></ul><ul><li>10.05 – 11.30 Organising internal consultancy </li></ul><ul><li>11.30 – 12.00 Break </li></ul><ul><li>12.00 – 13.15 Sustaining internal consultancy </li></ul><ul><li>13.15-13.30 Closing remarks </li></ul>
  3. 3. ORGANISING INTERNAL CONSULTANCY <ul><li>Outline of internal consultancy research project </li></ul><ul><li>Key findings </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Outcomes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Variety of forms and practice </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Shared characteristics </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. THE RESEARCH PROJECT <ul><li>Background </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Minimal research on internal consultancy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Focus on internal consultant rather than consultancies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Outsider view </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The organisation of internal consultancy units (ICUs) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Dynamics / narratives </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Form, structure </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Claimed outcomes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dilemmas </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. THE RESEARCH PROJECT <ul><li>Defining and identifying internal consultancy – self-identify </li></ul><ul><li>Methodology </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Exploratory research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Qualitative / Interview based - 93 interviews across 24 organisations (public and private sector) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ICs and some clients </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. KEY FINDINGS <ul><li>Wide range of outcomes / impacts </li></ul><ul><li>Variety, dynamism and no fixed type </li></ul><ul><li>Shared experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Challenge of sustaining ICUs </li></ul>
  7. 7. OUTCOMES <ul><li>Common perceptions of outcomes : </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Cost savings (e.g. headcount) / Efficiency / Integration </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Less common outcomes of ICU work </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategic direction / knowledge transfer </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Difficulties of demonstrating impact </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Absence of charging mechanisms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Negotiate not implement </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Joint working </li></ul></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>‘ So there is all sorts of scope for money zipping all over the place. So it’s very unlikely that we can have a sensible mechanism for doing it (charging for services)’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ If we did have a charging mechanism I suspect we’d have much less work. We don’t switch money around, that would be a waste of time and management accounts’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ We’ve had no problem getting services to pay for the work because they find it useful.’ </li></ul>
  9. 9. VARIETY OF FORM & PRACTICE <ul><li>Consultancy tradition </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Operational efficiency </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Organisational Development </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strategy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Project / Programme Management </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Size </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Less than 10 consultants = 9 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Between 10 and 20 = 4 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Between 20 and 50 = 7 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>50+ consultants = 4 </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. VARIETY OF FORM & PRACTICE <ul><li>Structural Location </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Centralised and independent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Centralised service function </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Divisional </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Structural form </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Functional teams </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Mapped onto business units </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Hierarchies linked to size </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. VARIETY OF FORM & PRACTICE <ul><li>Dynamics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tradition - Activities , diversification </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Size - Headcount </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Structural location – Centralisation / decentralisation </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Alternative providers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Multiple ICUs in same organisation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Duplication Vs differentiation (variety)? </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. SHARED CHARACTERISTICS AND EXPERIENCES <ul><li>Internal outsider and project/programme managing roles </li></ul><ul><li>Work generation – formal and informal mechanisms (‘corridor conversations’) </li></ul><ul><li>Limited implementation, knowledge transfer and/or use of KM systems. </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainability </li></ul>
  13. 13. <ul><li>‘ All I needed was for an independent group to come up with the same thing that I’ve been telling them over and over. Because that way I know my message will be listened to’. </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Implementation is often long-term, heavily involved, difficult to extract yourself from, so I don’t think that’s us. I don’t think implementation requires consultancy skills…’ </li></ul>
  14. 14. ORGANISING IC - SUMMARY <ul><li>Wide range of outcomes / impacts </li></ul><ul><li>Variety, dynamism and no fixed type </li></ul><ul><li>Shared experiences </li></ul>
  15. 15. SUSTAINING INTERNAL CONSULTANCY? It is perfectly possible that somebody could turn round in a year or two’s time and say “right, we’re going to bin internal consultancy”
  16. 16. WHY SUSTAINABILITY? <ul><li>Uncertainty is at the heart of management and change </li></ul><ul><li>Consultancy as solution, but has its own uncertainties </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Product </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Relationship </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Sector </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Organisational - greater for internals? </li></ul></ul></ul>
  17. 17. PRECARIOUS ICUs <ul><li>All ICUs reflected on uncertain existence; most had persistent concerns </li></ul><ul><li>Even in stability/growth, a quarter were disbanded or found new homes </li></ul>
  18. 18. SOURCES OF UNCERTAINTY AND SOLUTIONS? <ul><li>Sponsorship / relationship management </li></ul><ul><li>Value-add / expertise and diversification </li></ul><ul><li>Consultancy identity / credibility and work prioritisation </li></ul>
  19. 19. SPONSORSHIP AND RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT <ul><li>Senior management sponsorship </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Necessary but precarious and possible burden </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Formal and informal relationship management </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Consultants responsible for client departments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New lease of life/home or raise expectations unduly </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. <ul><ul><li>‘ (A new executive) took one look at it (the ICU) and said, “What you’re doing, the HR department ought to be doing, and the other bit that you’re doing, the managers ought to be able to do for themselves. I don’t want an internal consultancy anymore .” ’ </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>‘ We became almost seen as that deputy CEO’s eyes and ears around the organisation, which was actually quite detrimental to what we were trying to do’ </li></ul></ul>
  21. 21. VALUE-ADD / EXPERTISE AND DIVERSIFICATION <ul><li>Provision of value adding, (usually) ‘high level’ and continually relevant service? </li></ul><ul><li>Branded (e.g. Six Sigma) or generic methods </li></ul><ul><li>Diversify </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Up-skill to strategy, facilitation and/or programme management </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Risks credibility loss </li></ul></ul>
  22. 22. VALUE-ADD / EXPERTISE AND DIVERSIFICATION <ul><li>Diversify to external clients </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Income & added credibility but risks too </li></ul></ul><ul><li>(Or specialise/concentrate) </li></ul>
  23. 23. <ul><li>‘ I said to my people, “Reputation, reputation, reputation.” If they abolished us tomorrow, what would change? So reputation is all, really’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘… .We could even let the internals have a go at it…’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘… Going out and just re-validating how many posts (jobs) you should have in a particular area…in retrospect I don't think (that) was the best use of their (consultants) time.’ </li></ul>
  24. 24. CONSULTANCY IDENTITY / CREDIBILITY AND WORK PRIORITISATION <ul><li>Not just reducing uncertainty – also say ‘no’! </li></ul><ul><li>Assert identity as expert, independent & professional </li></ul><ul><li>Some ICUs also rejected implementation </li></ul><ul><li>Saying ‘no’ is high risk but…. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Compromise (train/oversee; ‘rational’ work prioritization) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Longer term legitimacy? </li></ul></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>‘ Some people just want an extra pair of hands and I say never appear willing to be the minute taker, the admin. It does our reputation no good’ </li></ul><ul><li>‘ I think that if you spoke to somebody outside of the (ICU) and said, “How do you view this team as internal consultants?” However they say it, the reality is [that] it’s a body shop.’ </li></ul>
  26. 26. Organisational Uncertainty Reduction Dilemma/risk Who you know Relationship management Raised client expectations What you know Diversify (or specialize) Core business & can’t compete What you are willing to do Work prioritization Legitimation & extras roles
  28. 28. COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS <ul><li>Experiences of sustainability </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Who you know? Relationship management? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What you know? Diversification? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What you are willing to do? Work prioritisation? </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Increasing / decreasing credibility? </li></ul>
  29. 29. SUMMARY <ul><li>Outsiders’ view on hidden sector – touch surface </li></ul><ul><li>Variety – Outcomes, forms and dynamics </li></ul><ul><li>Shared characteristics - Sponsorship, internal outsider/PM; work generation, (low implementation and knowledge transfer/KM) </li></ul><ul><li>Sustainability - A preoccupation, but dilemmas and dynamics too. No easy solutions! </li></ul>
  30. 30. AND FINALLY… <ul><li>A future for IC – yes, but…? </li></ul><ul><li>What resonated, what didn’t …? </li></ul><ul><li>Future research needed? </li></ul><ul><li>Final report, book, feedback? </li></ul>
  31. 31. <ul><li>Please feel free to contact us…. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul></ul>