Embracing the lessons of rejection. The pitfall of familiarity 

In the competitive arena of consulting, not every pitch turns into a success story. In a recent encounter with a major EU Chemical Corporate, the mission was clear: assist them in crafting a new strategy following a significant transformation. This was a chance to leverage my extensive experience and understanding of the chemical industry. Yet, like every wave in the waters of business, it brought unexpected lessons.

Understanding the challenge

The task was clear: to assist a well-established chemical corporation in forging a new strategic path after a significant organizational transformation. This pitch – against at least one other consultant – was to the management team of a close friend in the industry with whom I had worked in various ways over many years. The environment seemed very close to the corporate setting in which I have worked for so many years. With my longstanding industry experience, I believed I was well-equipped to help them navigate their challenges and fears, both in terms of content and team dynamics. My proposal was built upon tried-and-tested processes and tools designed to help teams reassess their current strategies and develop new directions.

Familiarity as my spearhead

Familiarity with the industry was my spearhead. I understand the internal dynamics of a chemical corporation, the subtle nuances shaping the industry, and how teams within this setting think and operate. This was my strength – especially compared to the more traditional (larger) consulting team – but it also became my pitfall. My proposal was passed over in favor of another that promised to push the client further out of their comfort zone. The management team felt that my close ties and understanding of their situation, while usually an advantage, made them less likely to be challenged in the ways they needed.

Reflection and learnings

This experience has shown me that, no matter how deep your understanding of a client or industry is, there’s always room to be surprised. It taught me that I did not listen closely enough to their desire to be pushed away from the past and take advantage of their new organizational setting. They wanted to think outside the box, and despite my intention to push their thinking, my emphasis on familiarity with their situation backfired.

Never too old to learn 

This journey underscores my personal ethos: You’re never too old to learn, and you should always be ready to grow from your mistakes. It’s this mindset of embracing every experience as a learning opportunity that I bring to every partnership and project.

Ready for change?

Are you looking for a strategic partner who delves deep into your organizational challenges and still offers a fresh perspective? feel free to reach out at peter.gommers@peter4strategy.com or +31-6-53361249. 

Inspired, but not facing a concrete challenge right now? Let’s connect on LinkedIn to stay in touch and share valuable insights.