We have long been devotees of renowned Harvard Business School professors Clayton Christensen and Michael Porter, which leads us to think differently in our market. Now a study published in the August 2013 Harvard Business Review (HBR) validates our strategy in our conflict minerals services, and specifically CMCheckPoint as a potentially disruptive consulting offering.
Granted, we didn’t devise our conflict minerals solutions through the complex strategic analyses discussed in the article. We simply overlaid our understanding of the subject matter with what we heard from the market. A distinct trend developed on the buy-side. The fact that some of us have been on the client side of the table and lived that perspective was also valuable in truly internalizing that as an opportunity rather than an obstacle. Moreover, our structure allows us to nimbly adapt to client needs and rapidly innovate (such as our very early adoption of the iPad for HSE auditing).
As Christensen suggests, we focused on smaller companies expected to be ignored by bigger consulting firms driving our development of lower cost solutions. While “name brand” consultancies may not value lower revenue opportunities/client, we embrace them. Unexpectedly, we have also completed successful engagements with Fortune 500 companies. Our clients appreciate our pragmatic, efficient and lower cost approaches to conflict minerals programs that support their self-sufficiency, rather than perpetual reliance on outside resources.
Recent conversations with clients and others further validate our methods. As an example, we have heard multiple times that some of the Big 4 are declining to bid on stand alone CMR audit engagements as that revenue is below their thresholds. Conversely, in situations where they do choose to bid, they frequently present six-figure costs – indicating they don’t understand the nature of this specific audit, are attempting to take advantage of the client’s own lack of understanding, or simply are relying on (using Christensen’s words) the “…purported impermeability of their brands and reputations” combined with a lack of transparency into their consulting business models. Certainly such large costs are warranted in certain situations, but not in some we are specifically aware of.
In this case, we are proud to be a disruptive influence.