Strategy consulting is a widely misunderstood term. The term strategy will itself elicit different definitions from practitioners and executives alike.

The earliest “strategy consultants” were in fact typically operational improvement experts, diagnosing inefficiencies in the production lines of the early Twentieth Century. Consulting grew from the roots of strategic management found in Taylorism and the ideas of Deming. Strategy consulting as most have come to understand it, grew from the portfolio analysis and its micro-economic underpinnings as defined by Igor Ansoff and Bruce Henderson. Later, competitive strategy would be furthered defined by the lectures and writings of Michael Porter.

Of course there a great many other influential strategy writers and thinkers. And strategy consulting has grown to incorporate a wide variety of theory and practice.

We define strategy consulting as working on the top issues of boards of directors, the CEO and executives. Popularised as the issues that “keep the CEO awake at night,” such issues might be a mix of true strategic and operational issues. By virtue of the fact that they rank as top issues (typically the five top priorities), even operational issues on this agenda require a strategic response. This strategic response requires marshalling the use of scarce corporate resources, significant change management and must put the company in a better competitive position.

It is difficult to imagine how the strategic analysis and development process takes place for those that have not participated in it. Good, practical strategies are not the results of brainstorming, creative brilliance or insights based on experience. Global Advisors develops strategies based on immensely rigorous analysis and through building buy-in to defined execution plans.

Organisations use strategy consultants for different reasons. Some might want access to top talent that is scarce or difficult to free up in house. Others might want an external view of a problem that elicits emotional and political responses from people in the company. Many want to leverage the experience consultants bring from other client engagements. Some might want to attach the credibility of a recognised strategy consulting brand to a set of strategy recommendations.

As such, being a Global Advisors strategy consultant is a tremendous privilege – and requires exceptional individuals capable of adding measurable value to top executive teams.

Some further contrasting views on strategy consulting:

Articles about the strategy consulting industry on this website
To The Brainy The Spoils – 11 May 2013 – The Economist
The State of Strategy Consulting 2011 – 2 March 2011 – Harvard Business Review
Strategy Consulting – Victor Chen
Clay Christensen and Dominic Barton on Consulting’s Disruption