Transforming Culture at a Management Consultancy

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1. The Challenge

The global executive committee of a leading management consulting firm headquartered in the United States asked us to partner with them to:

  • Conduct a cultural audit to assess critical gaps and opportunities in the experience of people at all levels of the firm and the resulting impacts on talent management and business strategies.
  • Implement recommendations for high-impact actions that optimize talent management practices and business strategies.

2. Our Solution

We partnered with the firm throughout a series of project phases, with a particular focus on insights, culture design and capability building.

Insights: We conducted a global assessment of the firm’s internal culture using ThomasLeland’s rapid ethnography methods for combining unstructured, semi-structured, and structured data gathering and interpretation. Our unique anthropologically-driven approach enabled us to examine the formal and informal aspects of culture that contribute to both productive and less productive patterns in interactions, team dynamics, and individual experiences.

Integrating our findings with other available data, the final report-out to the executive committee reflected trends in collective experiences at the firm, providing a comprehensive picture of key dynamics and impact to the business. We were able to identify direct links between predominant value systems, core beliefs and mental models and behaviors, their resulting impact on diverse constituencies within the firm and patterns of decision-making directed both internally and externally toward clients.

3. Culture Design

We worked with the executive committee to establish and socialize a shared perspective on the culture, building individual and collective ownership of potential actions for cultural optimization. Working closely with the executive committee over several months, we collaboratively developed a strategic focus on organization culture development while remaining mindful of the specific and differential needs of various practice groups across the firm. The executive committee subsequently anchored the cultural change work in a refresh of firm values and expected behaviors, prioritizing equity, inclusiveness, and other qualitative aspects of the employee experience.

4. Capability Building

Based in the commitments of each Managing Partner in the executive committee to the values and behavior adopted from the culture design phase, we supported key executive and practice group leaders with:

  • ImpACT Coaching (TM) for individual executives and leadership teams.
  • Identification of practice group-specific cultural strategies and actions.
  • Development and facilitation of customized leadership development sessions, with a particular focus on equitable management of the global consultant pool and support functions.
  • Strategic advising on cultural developments related to acquisitions and reorganizations at the firm.

5. Results Achieved:

  • The cultural audit highlighted critical gaps and opportunities in the experiences of consultants and support functions at all levels of the firm.
  • The series of report-outs to executive leaders provided them with data-driven grounds to initiate substantive and wide-ranging efforts at retooling the organizational culture.
  • The firm has developed people support systems and individual expectations for aligning values, behaviours and business impact by embedding equitable feedback, mentoring and sponsorship, and other qualitative aspects of employee experience in day-to-day practices and interactions.