Lessons learned. Reflecting on a journey of growth and learning in consulting

Navigating the consulting landscape often involves unexpected twists and turns, with each engagement offering unique lessons. Here’s a quick look into some of the challenges I’ve faced and the insights I’ve gained.

1. The pitfall of familiarity 

A proposal to assist an EU chemical company in strategizing post-transformation was enlightening. My approach, heavily relying on familiarity with the industry and past relationships, was overshadowed by a competing proposal that promised to challenge the client more aggressively. This rejection underscored the importance of offering innovative, boundary-pushing solutions that compel clients to step out of their comfort zones.

2. Engaging with current trends

My bid to conduct market research for a new green technology fell short against a less experienced but more specialized team. This experience highlighted the necessity to not only rely on proven experience but also to demonstrate active engagement with current technology trends and adapt proposals to resonate with a younger, more focussed team’s vision.

3. Broad stakeholder engagement

In attempting to help a newly acquired division of a major Asian Specialty Chemicals player, I learned that relying on strong relationships with key individuals isn’t always enough. The company opted to adhere to existing strategies, revealing the need for broader engagement with various stakeholders to better align our proposal strategies with the company’s overall direction.

4. Proactive collaboration efforts

Initial discussions about joining a UK-based boutique consultancy as a senior advisor provided exciting synergies but did not progress. This taught me that successful collaborations require more than just identifying potential; they need concerted efforts from both sides to actualize.

5. Understanding internal dynamics

My initiative to explore a strategic partnership between two key players in the coatings industry was stymied by each side’s hesitance, despite logical benefits. This situation highlighted the challenges of promoting a partnership externally and the importance of understanding deeper internal decision-making processes.

6. Aligning economic expectations

A proposal to create a webinar series for a chemical distributor was rejected due to misaligned expectations regarding consultancy fees. This was a poignant reminder of the importance of aligning economic expectations and considering more flexible pricing models in line with client budgets.

Each of these experiences has been instrumental in shaping my approach, emphasizing the need for flexibility, deeper market engagement, and a readiness to pivot strategies in response to client feedback and industry evolution. I am confident I will continue to learn from new experiences.

Seeking a strategic consultant who brings real-world lessons into each project? Contact me to discover how we can leverage these insights for your business’s advantage. Email peter.gommers@peter4strategy.comor call +31-6-53361249.

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