The last 30 years have been a battle against the word "imagination". That is how it begins with Isao Endo, the author of this book and chairman of the Japanese corporation Roland Berger (retired at the end of June 2020). If you look up the word "imaginary work" in a dictionary, you will find "a business that fools the masses." It is said that the words said by a person who took care of me at my previous workplace three years after I became a strategy consultant still pierce my chest.
Can anyone know if they are in the profession of selling their products or services? Sincerely trying to be useful to people, I have the feeling that I don't trust the products and services that I sell with sincerity, and that they are useless. From the perspective of unfamiliar people, a strategy consultant may seem like a flirtatious person who sprinkles small and difficult logic around and creates a habit. Because of the nature of the work, the authors admit that it is destined. On top of that, this book presents the culmination of strenuous efforts to dispel such public image and raise social recognition.
The theme of this book is "strategy consulting theory" as the title says, but if you read it with a higher level of abstraction, it will become "professional theory" that is common to any work. Professionals are not the only things that make you professional. This is because people cannot move with logic alone.
The success equation that the author draws from his path of determination and determination will provide a guiding solution to success for readers who want to increase their market value. It will surely become the night light of the challenger who lonely pushes through the dark tunnel.
Main points of this book
The job of a strategic consultant is like a "catalyst" that triggers chemical reactions. At the crucial stage of corporate change, we will point out the direction from the outsider's standpoint and support the realization of change.
In order to become a first-class catalyst, it is necessary to possess the three qualities of “intellectual intelligence”, “intellectual intelligence”, and “professional mind”. If you don't have all three, you can't "make it mind" by encouraging clients to change their mindset.
What is a strategy consultant?
World of strategy consulting firms
The oldest consulting company in the world was born more than 130 years ago. Then, in the 1920s, a series of corporate mergers in the United States led to complicated and sophisticated management, and a number of strategic consulting firms appeared accordingly. Many of them bear the name of the founder, which means that the provision of outstanding services by "professional" individuals is the essence of this profession.
The job of a strategy consultant is a tough world called "Up or Out." This means that in order to survive, you have to get results and get promoted quickly. Otherwise, leave the company.
Initiate a "chemical reaction" as a "catalyst"
Before mentioning the essence of a strategic consultant, let's consider the pros and cons of relying on a consultant. The parties to change are clients only. This remains true even if strategic consultants intervene in the process.
So where is the need to rely on outsiders? Let me briefly introduce the actual case.
Company B, a semi-major consumer goods manufacturer, was searching for the possibility of a new management model in the face of slowing growth in the domestic market and being asked by a competitor to form a partnership. Company C, a manufacturer of industrial machinery with its own technology, thinks that the provision of high-value-added services is the first priority, given that there are limits to the profit structure of the company that relies on hardware (products) amid the rise of emerging powers. Was there. Company D, which provides entertainment services, felt a sense of crisis at the inefficient and low-productivity site, and was considering business reform.
What these three companies have in common is that they are forced to undergo a "discontinuous change," which is not an extension of the past. If you can deal with it based on past experience, you do not need a consultant. Because change is an "extraordinary" situation for most companies, it makes sense to engage in corporate change from an "outsider" standpoint that is not bound by common sense in the company.
Strategy consultants are, so to speak, "catalysts" that accelerate the reaction rate of specific chemical reactions. The "catalyst" becomes unnecessary once the change occurs, but without it, the "chemical reaction" does not occur. That is why the strategic consultant exists.
Strategy consultant work
5 points to be a first-class catalyst
What is most important in the work of a strategic consultant is to draw and realize a simple but bold change scenario. Don't lose track of the essence of things by being swallowed by a sea of data and information. It is necessary to have a broad view based on the "bird's eye" that interprets the trends of the world, and a sense of the scene where you can feel the signs of the future with the muddy "insect eye."
To be a first-class catalyst, the author is always aware of five points. If any one of these is missing, it will be difficult to exert its effect as a "catalyst."
The first is "fitness." The strategy needs to be rational that "this will win", but it must be a "customized solution" that is suitable for the client, not best practice.
The second is "fact" (fact). There is no logic without evidence. You always have to get into the habit of talking with numbers and justify your recommendations.
The third is "conceptualization, structuring, verbalization". It is to put together your own opinions into a compelling concept, and systematically state it with words that echo to the other person while supporting it with facts and evidence.
The fourth is "knee tightness", that is, a thorough discussion with the client. The "stomach" obtained at the end of the discussion determines the success or failure of the change.
Finally, the "site". Strategies are not limited to global "Grand Strategy". The key to drawing an extraordinary strategy that is not imitated by other companies is the "micro strategy" (fine strategy) that is created by crawling around the site. Just clinging to a desk doesn't make a fine strategy.
Clever use of strategy consultants
In this book, the author introduces six points for using strategy consultants wisely.
The first is "use when you need it, not when you don't." Strategy consultants come into play at the time of change. The existence of "outsiders" is rational because it is an era in which even problems to be solved must be fumbled.
The second is "think of as "investment" rather than "cost." Appointment of a strategic consultant is an investment to realize speedy change. Consider investing boldly and raising the return above that amount.
The third is "use differently according to "purpose" and "compatibility". When choosing a strategic consulting firm, consider each style and specialty and find a partner that suits your project goals.
The fourth is that "consistent consultants will continue to use it." If you find a good consultant, I recommend going out for a long time. The more you understand your company, the more accurate your advice will be.
The fifth is that the top management commits himself. A common thing about successful projects is that top management commits and spends time.
Finally, "put employees forward". Involvement of employees will definitely increase commitment to action.
[Must read!] Three qualities that make a strategy consultant a “first-class catalyst”
To "make the client feel"
In summary, the main part of the strategy consultant is to point out the direction that should be taken as an objective “outsider” from an independent standpoint in the crucial stage of corporate transformation, and to induce “chemical reaction” like a catalyst to bring about transformation. It is to support the realization. The important thing here is to "make the client feel". Recommendations are meaningless if they are not implemented. In order to be a “first-class catalyst”, it is necessary to possess the following three qualities.
The first is "intellect," or IQ. In order to carry out the important task of “setting the direction of change”, it is necessary to think thoroughly logically and analytically and to derive the optimum solution for the client.
Next is "intellect of the mind," or EQ. No matter how reasonable it is, if clients are not willing to be convinced, change will not happen. It is important to be sensitive to the feelings and emotions of the client and to approach the goal.
Finally, there is a "professional mind", that is, awareness as a professional. IQ and EQ alone can't inspire clients. Be aware that you will bring success to the client by all means and be aware of your role. Such professionalism also changes the atmosphere of the field transmitted to the other party.
From the next section, we will look at the intelligence of the mind, the intelligence of the mind, and the professional mind one by one.
Intelligence of the head
"Intelligence in the mind" is the ability to think. Although a company is economically rational, it may sometimes deviate to an irrational path. The reason is that the issue cannot be "arranged" and the essence is lost. Fall into "partial optimization" instead of "whole optimization". Making short-sighted decisions from "optimal for the future" rather than "optimal for the present". Then, instead of selecting an “individual solution” that is suitable for your company, you may select a “general solution” such as best practice. It is the job of the strategy consultant to correct it.
However, the plausible solution derived by logic is not always the optimum. Because it is just a hypothesis with preconditions.
For example, suppose you consider price cuts in order to recover market share without losing profits. Even if you get the answer that you should not change prices from credible statistical data etc., if competitors devise price strategies at the expense of short-term profits, stop the decline in market share Would be difficult. While making full use of logic and analytical methods, it requires a keen insight to see things from a holistic perspective.
The "intellect of the heart" is the power to feel. Sensitively sense the client's emotions, and snuggle up to them. If we don't increase the acceptability of the other party, the change will not proceed. The points are the client's "open mind" (acceptance) and the client's "inspiration" (inspiration).
"Open mind" refers to the state in which we have created a foundation that allows us to develop a relationship of trust with the other party and accept this proposal. If your mind is closed, there will be no "chemical reaction".
"Emotional" means that the other person "would be interested". No matter how logically the logic is developed, you will not feel like overcoming various risks and obstacles. The client must be “inspired” by the consultant's recommendations and think “OK, let's do it!”.
If the rational change scenario presented by the strategy consultant is sandwiched between "open mind" and "inspirational", the client will be activated.
"Professional mind" is indispensable for making "intelligent mind" and "intellect of mind" work well. There are two points: sticking to "For the client" and sticking to "results".
To be “For the client” means to earnestly hope for the success of the client and to seriously approach the other person. It's hard to say that it's hard to say because it's a position that has nothing to do with internal responsibilities. If you really want to make a difference, you should be able to suggest things that are painful for your clients at times.
Sticking to the "result" is to "change" the consciousness of the client and "inspire it." Even if a strategic consultant supports it, there is a time lag before it appears in the performance figures. The author is therefore particular about inspiring the client to lead to a change in consciousness and action.
Professional career theory
Being a professional is the "starting line to success"
You may think that professionals are a limited world, such as professional sports and strategic consultants. But that's a ridiculous misconception.
Some of the top players in the J League earn more than 100 million yen annually, and Japanese players who are active overseas earn many times that amount. On the other hand, the average annual salary of J3, which is a subordinate organization, is about 3-4 million yen. So they rush to death and aim for the top.
As you can see from this example, becoming a professional is not a success in itself, but merely a starting line. Even at the business site. As former soccer team Japan representative Tomoyoshi Miura says, if you want to survive, you must consider stepping up to the environment you want rather than improving the practice environment. After all, only you can change your life.
Recommendation of reading
According to the author, “professionalization” will definitely progress in the Japanese business society. It is not only limited to the profession of strategy consultant, but it also leads to a little scary story that "commodity human resources" will be eliminated sooner or later.
In other words, "become a professional" is nothing but excellence in differentiating yourself from others. Various hints, useful techniques, and attitudes for that purpose are fully published in this book. In particular, there may be many people who are worried about the chapter "7 habits that I continue to become a "first-class catalyst"".
This book is a must-have book for anyone who wants to make a leap as a strategic consultant, as well as for business people who want to grow with an overwhelming difference.