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Ragnar Agnell16 Nov 20183 min read

Top 5 mistakes companies make when choosing partner for transformation, innovation and critical change

To succeed with innovation initiatives and transformations, companies often rely on support and partnership with consultancies. This external support normally provides advice, competence and extra capacity to realise the strategic goals, and to do so faster and at lower risk. Choosing the right partner or partner constellations often makes the difference between success and failure and can cost companies millions and millions if not making the right choice. It can also cost decision makers their jobs when strategic goals are not met. So what are the Top 5 mistakes when choosing the right partner?

  • 1) Not ensuring that the external partner will be with you throughout the journey. 

  • Compare this with a mountaineer co-working with a sherpa who will only help him/her half-way to the top, a golf caddie who will only walk the first twelve holes or a coach or team captain who won’t lead, inspire and push on all the way to the championship. If you do not sense there is a long term commitment to your success, think it over.

  • 2) Choosing consultants on a CV by CV basis 

  • opposed to a team with the right competence mix, attitude/values and an effective way of co-working with each other and your own project members. There are numerous examples of sports teams with a team spirit and an effective way of co-working that outperform teams composed of individuals with very impressive track records but lacking a systematic team work and team spirit, to draw yet another sports analogy.

  • 3) Focusing on unit cost rather than the total cost effectiveness

  • The daily or hourly fee for a certain consultant is a measure that does not necessarily reflect total cost effectiveness, although it is important, no doubt. The average day rate or hourly fee, however, rarely correlates with total cost – or even more importantly the value generated.

  • 4) Not ensuring that the external partner is committed to the value and results

  • If they are only ‘doing their job’ and express that this is good enough, you have only chosen a vendor, whereas a true partner is committed to your success at all levels of engagement (company, lead/responsible and all team members).

  • 5) Outsourcing strategic change and hereby losing control, as well as insights and the learning opportunity

  • When your team leaders and members are not working closely enough together with the partner, the risk is high that control is lost, which in turn can lead to higher cost and off-target results. Moreover, the ability to make change happen is a core competence which is very valuable, if not critical, for the company itself to build. Co-working with the right consultancies will help to develop that organisational capability stronger. The ability and culture to change has never been more important than today, and it will increase going forward. Choosing a partner that is less open to accommodate such a transparent, co-creating atmosphere and inspirational knowledge sharing implies a higher risk for lost control and inability to scale down external support.

  • What are your thoughts?

  • Please feel free to reach out and comment. Have you experienced this in strategic changes such as innovation (scaling up a start-up, starting a new business etc), transformations (digitalisation, going from products to services/solutions, acquisition integrations, organisation changes, larger systems implementations etc) and regulatory driven changes (GDPR, Brexit vs trade compliance, banking/finance regulations, sustainability etc).

  • What these have in common is that they require a combination of 'hard' (knowledge, experience, methodology/tools) and 'soft' (leadership, drive, change culture) capabilities. How you choose and engage with a partner to make the most of your own and the external partner’s capabilities can make or break the success of your strategic change initiatives. A coming top-5 list will be about how to sustain the change, not only to make it happen.

  • Centigo is your modern partner for business critical and cross-functional change. We are a group of extraordinarily engaged people with a unique combination of cutting edge competence and the drive to make change happen. With our holistic approach, we develop resilient and prosperous companies and organisations with competitive durability. We call this Business Wellness.


Ragnar Agnell

Partner with joint responsibility for our UK and Ireland business and leads Transformation/Change and Sustainability.