Not so Nordic: One reason Nordic clients may be harder on consulting firms…
Thursday 3rd Aug, 2017
By Alison Huntington.
There’s much that’s admired by people around the world about life in the Nordics: minimalist design, hygge, and societies that regularly rank as some of the most equal in the world. While workers in London sweat their way to and from the office on the Underground, working all hours and barely seeing daylight, some in Sweden enjoy a six hour working day. Cafes are stuffed with “latte papas”, and enjoying life outside work is taken very seriously (with beautiful scenery, fresh air, and decent snow to enjoy for half the year, it’s little wonder why).
Contrast this outlook with some of the (fairly) universal truths about life in consulting. You work long hours. You don’t see much of your family or partner. Booking theatre tickets in advance is risky, since you might get posted to Dundee for the next six months. You exercise predominantly in a sweaty hotel gym. You’re forever battling what I fondly call “Consultant’s Gut”, the inevitable three kilogrammes gained on any away project. You don’t have time for hobbies.
In short, it’s got little in common with the ideals of Nordic society.
And we wonder if that has some bearing on why clients’ perceptions of consulting firms in the Nordic region are some of the harshest around. Of all the major regions we research, they’re the least positive (and most negative) about the quality of consulting firms’ work, about the value added by consulting firms, and about every attribute we ask about. One of the things they’re least impressed with is the culture of consulting firms. Just half of clients (50%) in the Nordics described the overall culture of consulting firms as “good” or “very good”, compared with 67% in all other countries.
Could the mismatch in outlook between client and consultant have something to do with it? Our sense is that being the hardest-working person in the room may not be all that impressive here, and that burning the midnight oil at the expense of health and happiness isn’t seen as a sign of a set of great life choices. It’s a leap, and it’s a theory that’s certainly not definitively proven in our research. But, it’s worth considering; are Nordic clients much more progressive than the consulting firms working with them?
To find out more about what we’re hearing about clients’ views of consulting firms in the Nordics click here.