Skip to content

A Theory of Everything: Rebuilding the consulting model, capability by capability

Published Apr 2020

Once upon a time there was a one-to-one relationship between a professional services firm’s type and the kind of work it did: Strategy was done by strategy firms, technology was done by technology firms. But for the last 20 years, the consulting world has been changing. At the heart of this is convergence: As we argued in our previous white paper, professional firms of all shapes and sizes are eyeing up opportunities to expand into new markets with the result that it’s becoming increasingly difficult—and pointless—to say where one type of firm starts and another finishes.

And at the heart of this tangled web of convergence is management consulting. With consistently higher margins and stronger growth trajectories than many other parts of the professional services industry, consulting has become a magnet for other types of firms. But this can work both ways, and consulting firms have not only diversified inside the consulting space, they've also started to expand into other areas of professional services too. This diversifcation has caused a bigger problem however: As a firm adds more and more capabilities to its toolkit as it expands, clients are no longer sure what a firm excels in.

This white paper explores the idea that the way to overcome this challenge is by breaking down the old model of consulting to build a new one: Firms shouldn't be arranging themselves around the 'type' of firm they are, instead, we should go one level down and look at the capabilities and solutions they offer, and create a whole new language to describe the market.