Strategy consulting is a service provided by management consultants with expertise in design and implementation of various types of business strategies. A strategy is a plan or carefully considered course of action designed to achieve a specific goal. The use of strategy consultants has increased in acceptance and popularity as the business world has shifted from local to global markets.
Strategy management was first launched as a recognized field of study in the 1960s at the Harvard Business School. In collaboration with Booz & Company, McKinsey, and the Boston Consulting Group (BCG), Harvard professors defined and developed the tools and approaches that comprise the basis of this school of management. The Monitor Group was a groundbreaking strategic management consulting firm formed in 1983 by six professors from the Harvard Business School.
The development of strategy consulting service firms occurred fastest in the United States where it is acceptable for senior management to admit the need for outside resources to address the challenges of planning for and managing a large firm. In Europe and Asia, the acceptance of strategy consulting was much slower because the expectation is for senior management to develop strategies and manage the firm independently. It is believed that hiring outsiders to complete these tasks could lead to a lack of faith in management and leadership skills.
When looking to select a strategy consulting firm, it is important to first have a clearly defined set of expectations, deliverables and a timeline. Review the credentials of the consulting firm carefully and ask for and check at least five references. Make sure that the referring companies actually hired this firm for a similar purpose to ensure that the comparison is valid.
Review the resume of the consultant that will be assigned to your project. It is important to determine if he or she has the appropriate background in your industry to be able to quickly assimilate the issues and contribute something meaningful. Beware of consultants that pepper their speech with buzzwords, jargon and three-letter acronyms. A skilled consultant should be able to take a complex subject and make it easily understood by anyone, regardless of background.
Consultant management is a critical skill to ensure that the business obtains good value for money. The consultant should report to someone in the management structure of the firm on a scheduled basis. This person should be responsible for setting clear expectations, reviewing work products, and keeping the consultant on track to complete the required work. Without this role, it is very difficult to determine if the firm is obtaining proper value for the cost of strategy consulting.