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What are some specific differences between an old paradigm (traditional) consulting firm and a new paradigm one (e.g. Shoremount)?

The scenario facing consulting firms is no different to any other organisation: how and what it does is driven by a set of underlying assumptions - assumptions that, in most cases, go unconsidered and undiscussed.

With this foundation in place, an organisation is guided forward in how it chooses to operate; in a consulting firm’s case, this means its approach to engaging clients, what it believes are the issues that matter and, crucially, how it goes about delivery.

The underlying beliefs and the resulting approach act like a pair of train tracks for a particular paradigm; the nature of the client’s experience and what it becomes is now relatively determined. That’s not to say it’s going to be entirely negative. But, without some interfering event, is unlikely to break out into something that represents a new set of possibilities as opposed to a perpetuation of the norm.

Below are some specific examples of what this looks like in practice:

Underlying Beliefs

Old Paradigm (Traditional)

New Paradigm (Shoremount)

People will follow facts and rational logic
People will follow belief and emotion
Bettering people in authority will save the day
Prioritising Leaders leads to more problems
The mind of the economist and engineer rules
The mind of the artist and poet is equal
Efficient, standardised and predictable reign
Creative, localised and responsive reign
Accountability that counts is worker-to-boss
Accountability that counts is peer-to-peer
All problems are worth expending energy on
Most problems are symptoms, not real issues
Complexity can be managed and controlled
We can only sense life and respond to it
Data/information leads to smartest decisions
Intuition can lead to smartest decisions
External motivation is good and necessary
External motivation is a net problem
Money is the ultimate motivator
Meaning is the ultimate motivator
Good governance = quality rules and process
Good governance = quality relationships
Value is mostly created by those at the centre
Value is mostly created by those in the market

Operational Approach

Old Paradigm (Traditional)

New Paradigm (Shoremount)

Seeks to change external behaviour
Seeks to nurture the heart
Points to the change needed
Lives out the change needed
Engagements are chunky and project driven
Engagement model is agile and in real time
Uses teams of exclusive consultants
Uses a community of peers
Revenue model is transactional with high fees
Revenue model is relational and diverse
Sells processes and fixed formulae
Sells conversation and flexible frameworks
Only entertains the language of commerce
Entertains the language of spirituality
Promises safety in predetermined outcomes
Offers adventure and new possibilities
Sees the world through a lens of competition
Sees the world through a lens of partnership
Heavy on writing reports
Light on writing reports
Hopes to work with Senior Leadership
Hopes to work with anyone willing to act
Looks to work on individual parts
Looks to work on a system’s interactions

Client Journey

Old Paradigm (Traditional)

New Paradigm (Shoremount)

Change can be obligated from the top
Change can only be freely chosen
Expresses leadership as positional authority
Expresses leadership as acts of citizenship
Looks inwardly to solve internal issues
Looks outwardly to serve an external purpose
Central money handlers have the last word
The money handler has no special powers
Low level of information transparency
Defaults to full disclosure of information
Senior employees are the decision makers
Frontline employees are the decision makers
Centralised teams are necessary best practice
Centralised teams should be a special case
Engagement is you buying into my vision
Engagement is you offering your own vision
Training defaults to a focus on what’s wrong
Training defaults to what’s good and well
Measurement criteria are set by the measurers
Measurement criteria are set by the measured
Only a few are resourced to be creative
Creativity and its funding options widespread
The work is in changing other people
The work is in changing myself


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  1. John Featherby

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