These case studies illustrate the breadth of experience we bring to our consulting.
Case Study 1: Turning it around
“The board of this company selling expert knowledge and training has appointed me as CEO to ‘turn it round’. Systems and culture are stuck in the past and the financial position is very unclear, however, spending appears to be unrestrained. There is no formal strategy and my senior management team seems unwilling to manage. Despite the excellence and longevity of our work, and our good reputation, we have not positioned ourselves as market leaders.”
This client was a talented entrepreneur who was working at this level for the first time. We assisted her in clarifying her role and developing a strategy to implement major change in the face of opposition from the staff and even from within the Board which had appointed her. After we began consulting to her, the company’s financial position worsened with the loss of a major government contract. We assisted her in refining her strategy in response, implementing some difficult decisions and gaining new resources and new business for the company.Today the company has more than doubled its turnover to over £1 million. The CEO’s next challenge is to bring on her small management team to share and implement her vision to take the company to its rightful place in its field as it expands over the next 3 years, while responding to constant opportunities and challenges in her industry.
Case Study 2: Learning in the Balkans
Shortly after the war in Bosnia, we were invited to consult to a group of leaders from Serbia, Albania, Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria and Croatia. They were channelling funding in each country to local projects promoting ethnic integration. They wanted us to help them share good practice among themselves, and to develop meaningful ways of evaluating the work they oversaw.
The group included members from many ethnic, religious and national configurations, and despite good intentions, mutual mistrust and fear was never far away. We used a variety of tools including deMarean dialogue, action learning methodology and storytelling to develop greater trust and capacity for productive cooperation. In a difficult setting many of the group experienced a new freedom in communication and a genuine exchange of knowledge and expertise was made possible. These tools were also valuable in developing an evaluation methodology which could take account of the difficulty and complexity of the task the group faced.
Case Study 3: Rapid growth
“Our company has quadrupled in size in the last 4 years to achieve a turnover above £5 million, in an industry with rapid-paced change and increasing competition. We are determined to maintain the high standards which led to our success in the first place, and one of our biggest challenges is that our old ways of communicating are not up to the new scale and complexity of our work. We have worked with Thornton Consulting regularly to improve our communication within the senior management team; Christine helps us keep our roles as the leaders of the organisation clear, tackle current challenges together, and plan effective communication with the entire organisation.”
Case Study 4: Planning for succession
We were called by the managing director of a small company which sold services to local government. He had set up the company about 12 years previously and it had been his ‘baby’ ever since, once even funding the payroll out of his personal account during a cashflow crisis. He wanted to retire and yet found it difficult, particularly because the company was again facing serious financial difficulties and could not afford to hire a replacement.
We helped him to devise and stick to an exit strategy which included promoting a promising junior colleague as acting director. She had no experience of this level of responsibility and we coached her as she developed a strategy to secure new business, and settled the staff down under the new regime.
The financial position stabilised, she was confirmed in post and we continued to coach her in managing her business in a competitive and changeable market.
Case Study 5: Creating and implementing a business strategy
We were called by a Health purchaser who wished us to consult to the CEO of a small company providing unique services in the health field. He had commissioned an evaluation of the company which indicated that they did leading edge work with their difficult-to-reach client group. However the company had no business plan and no coherent account of why they were so successful. We worked with the staff to describe the company’s methodology and USP, and with the CEO to develop a business plan to disseminate their expertise.
After this contract was completed the CEO re-engaged us to consult to him through the implementation period and beyond.
Case Study 6: Strategy for small organisations
We were engaged by a national agency with a development role to provide a brief consultation for two small federations of individuals selling crucial services to deaf and hearing impaired people which needed to clarify their positions in the market, and progress their strategies and business plans. The commission was unusual in that the two groups were to work together and separately on these issues. During the consultation the groups worked together to develop an analysis of their marketplace, and separately worked through exercises to clarify how to develop and market their different services. One of the organisations decided to make big picture planning part of their regular management process, and both clarified their priorities for action over the next year.
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