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Case Study: building a coherent consulting team

How do you go about reconstructing a consulting team once the market shifts and the team loses coherence? That was the challenge I took on with this assignment. This team was made up of a small number of consultants who worked in different fields. Its current projects were coming to an end, and its forthcoming projects were insufficient to satisfy its goals, placing the team's finances in peril. Most crucially, the team's market has transformed, with its current focus and talents out of step with the market's trend. Yet, at the end of this assignment, the team had expanded to 22 consultants, with a £40 million budget and a market offering centred on three core goods.

To transform the team, we had to change the team culture to build a coherent team capable of working together to achieve its goals. This transformation necessitated focusing on the team's vision, culture, and ways of working.

Vision: Building a vision necessitated a shared knowledge of the team's problem and agreement on a common approach to tackling it. It was feasible to instil urgency in the team by graphically displaying the team's pipeline as a cliff edge to highlight the challenge, emphasising the significance of increasing teamwork and a focus on greater business development activity. To promote buy-in and create alignment within the team around a shared approach, we focused on involving and asking advice from more senior consultants while coaching junior consultants to take the lead in developing the vision and strategy. Over time, a group emerged to become a steering committee to guide the vision.

Culture: To maintain momentum for change, it was vital to maintain continual communication about the need for change through monthly meetings and one-on-one sessions. The steering committee developed sub-teams to push change over time, with these individuals gradually moving into line managerial responsibilities. We instilled a collaborative, "can-do" attitude through team meetings, quick wins, and innovative hiring practices. We concentrated as a team on recognising the culture we were creating and acknowledging team members who went above and above to support our culture.

Ways of working: Through team meetings, establishing clear team standards, and recruiting practices, we fostered a collaborative, "can-do" mindset. We set our team standards by concentrating on our collective expectations for the quality of our work, how we responded to new opportunities, and our determination to get things done. Individuals who took on more responsibility were moved into new jobs or encouraged to lead specific client engagements. We used a combination of performance management and redundancy to make room for change and re-energise the plan if particular team members struggled to make the transition. The effort resulted in a high-performing team winning new work and expanding into new areas.

These efforts helped embed a more unified and collaborative culture inside the team. The impact on external measurements was also significant, with increased revenue, team size, and sub-teams in new geographic locations.


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