Bringing the Mona Lisa smile back: four uses for a strategy consultant - The Finance Team

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Bringing the Mona Lisa smile back: four uses for a strategy consultant

In the movie Mona Lisa Smile, 30-year old liberal arts graduate Katherine Watson (played by Julia Roberts) takes up a position teaching the “history of art” at a snooty conservative arts school in Massachusetts. On the first day, Watson discovers that her uppity students have already memorized the entire syllabus from the text book. Since her students already know all the theory, Watson takes a different approach. She embarks on an effort to allow them to understand art in a new way, introducing them to modern art, allowing them to touch the pieces, debate their meaning and paint their own compositions. Watson’s approach brings her into conflict with the school’s head, but the results speak for themselves: at the end of the year her students graduate with flying colours and describe her influence as one that has compelled them “to see the world with new eyes”.

It’s a fairy tale story, but it contains a moral that is applicable to decision-making in the business world. If your company is already doing everything “by the book” but you’re not seeing the success you want, it’s time to bring in some new energy and a different perspective. For this, consider a strategy consultant. Here are four ways a strategy consultant can revitalize your business.

A strategy consultant provides knowledge that doesn’t exist in the business

If you need to better understand your environment, your competitor or the way technology will change the future of your business, bring in someone who specialises in knowing these things. Giving your company a knowledge injection will bring the thrill of learning something new – and the benefit of being able to apply that knowledge, of course.

A strategy consultant can validate ideas that have already been created in the organisation

This suggestion is given by business consultant Lee Iwan. In Mona Lisa Smile, one of Watson’s students dreams of becoming a lawyer. Watson encourages her to pursue her passion: she enrolls to Yale Law School and is accepted. Sometimes all you need is someone to push you in the right direction. For example, your senior management team might have been brewing something for a while. The idea seems like a good one, but you need another vote of confidence before you can take that leap of faith. Your strategy consultant can provide this for you. He or she can be a sounding board, give the go-ahead where applicable, or help you to rework your ideas into something that will help the business fly.

A strategy consultant can provide external change force (or ‘political cover’)

According to, “it can be hard to do what’s right – particularly when it comes to job layoffs, salary and benefit changes or reductions, and major operational and strategic shifts. Hiring strategy consultants can be a way to reach the desired conclusions with sufficient political cover in case certain parties are unhappy”. In other words, your strategy consultant can help you do the dirty work, and as an external party, more easily shoulder the blame for unpopular – but necessary — decisions in the business.

A strategy consultant can catalyse and facilitate the ideas process within the organisation

In Watson’s class, the students discovered artistic abilities they never knew they had. These skills were lying dormant and merely required someone to help unleash them. Similarly, the collective experiences and ideas within the company can be ignited to produce something powerful – if someone skilled is able to light the flame.

A strategy consultant acts as a soundboard

Is your company considering creative or innovative offerings to grow its revenue, market share or distribution channels? If so, use the advice of an expert to determine whether your ideas have legs. The result will be growth in the areas you want it, and cost savings in the areas where you could do without it.

All companies get to a point where they need to do something different in order to bolster growth, overcome hurdles or conquer competitive activity. At times like this, a strategy consultant can be a powerful force for change. Contact The Finance Team to find out more about receiving ad hoc, interim or ongoing strategic assistance that can help your business see the “world through new eyes”.



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