Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Our year in review

For us, 2017 will forever be remembered as the year that Cambridge Advisory Partners was founded. A year of seriously hard work but rewarding in ways we could never have expected. The creation not just of an organisation, but the founding of a completely new way of working, embracing diversity because it makes us whole, exploring different because that’s where development thrives and creating collaborative systems that morph and evolve.

By February 2017, we had the nucleus of a vision. By March the leadership team was emerging and in May we were officially formed. The energy was immense and the team dynamics truly creative. We had a web site up and running within a month and, three months ahead of plan, we were delivering engagements. It can be honestly said that across three of the “Big 4” partnerships, nothing has been so exhilarating, so real and so meaningful.

By the start of September we had signed a lease on new office space and by the end we were delivering engagements in Cambridge and London for SMEs through to FTSE 100s. We were doing it through Specialists, experts in their own fields, each committed to giving practical, pragmatic advice that was always advancing through a commitment to continuous development. Not the “repeatable” propositions that are the domain of large scale consultancies, but tailored, partner led, targeted interventions that got to the heart of matters without delay.

In October the concept of “consultancy repurposed” was gathering pace and after our mid-year partner strategy review in November, we concluded that we needed to redevelop our website to deliver the full #ConsultancyRepurposed experience. The focus for December was developing our “capability” offer for earlier stage growth companies.

So, roll on January and 2018 for more momentous developments here at Cambridge Advisory Partners! If you want to be part of our journey then let us know!

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Case Study: Governance in £bn business

Our client is a high profile £bn+ business. Three months before we were engaged it had been involved in a major public incident that had seriously undermined its credibility and reputation, leading to a number of high profile exits. This bore heavily on remaining management and few were willing to put their heads above the parapet, resulting in a culture of long hours and decision making paralysis. At the point that we were engaged, the organisation was at a standstill with executives spending 12-14 hours per day in committee meetings and almost no time running the business. Decisions were being passed from committee to committee, everything was being escalated and morale was ebbing away.

Using our #UniqueContribution© suite of approaches, within a six week period we had managed to:

  • Free 60% of management’s time spent in committees
  • Unblock the decision making jam
  • Create clear guidance on what decisions could be taken where and by whom
  • Produce decision templates that forced clear articulation of “the ask”
  • Increase staff net promoter scores by 40% due to increased confidence in management

We knew that people don’t go to work to do a bad job, but are very often not empowered, directed or equipped to do the required job. Missing skills, capability and competence, to a greater or lesser extent, can all be developed. But if a person’s core skills, values and passions don’t align or there is inadequate direction or empowerment, they will simply not thrive, which is what was happening here.

Using our Organisational Development and Behaviours perspective we looked at a number of things:

  • Were management setting goals and objectives that were achievable with the resource, skills and talent that existed?
  • Was management supporting the development of a company culture to which the employees’ values aligned?
  • When goals were set, could they be delivered entirely within the control of those given the task?
  • Where control was not with those given the task, but required co-operation or enablement from others, was this feasible without undue stress?
  • When it became clear that goals and objectives could not be achieved either alone or with the support of others, was it possible to explore alternative options or to re-set goals and objectives?

In the case where goals and objectives could not be achieved either through existing means, alternative options, negotiating revised targets, or when doing so would compromise the individuals’ values, what choices were being made to prevent “overwhelmed” individuals and teams?

Based on the evidence we found, it was clear that there was nothing to gain from being a slave to a corporate business plan that was undeliverable in its current guise with the existing operating model.

Working with the leadership we utilised the #UniqueContribution© test to develop clarity about:

  1. What are the goals and objectives and who sets them
  2. What decision is required and where is it best taken
  3. What delegations have been allocated and what empowerment is required

In addition, we defined what should constitute adequate management information, a process to reasonably identify and address risk, and proportionate assurance to give comfort that processes would operate as intended.

What had been missing is what we call “boundary” management. That is to say, before goals and objectives are set or accepted, that they are checked for achievability. If they require input or contribution outside of personal or team control, how can you get it? What empowerment is needed? Are there any “sacred cows” that can’t be challenged?

We ensured that when escalating a matter, there was clarity on what the “ask” was and why it wouldn’t be within an individual or team’s gift to resolve it. Equally, we ensured that when a decision was escalated, it was clear what was being asked and why it couldn’t be decided below, or what delegations and empowerments could be put in place to allow the decision to be taken sooner and “closer to the action”.

Six weeks on, the organisation started to function. Six months on and productivity is up by 30%, NPS continues to improve and churn is down by 80%.

What do the next six months hold for you? Contact us if you want to see these same improvements.