Supporting Change in Sydney

Felber’s Antje Strauch has recently returned from running four Kimble workshops for Felber’s second client based in Australia. Here are some of her thoughts on her journey home …

After flying for a good 20 hours, we arrived in the centre of Sydney and felt as if we had just popped into the City of London with a few peculiar additions. It was Monday, it was a bank holiday as the Australians had taken the day off to celebrate the Queen’s birthday and it was very quiet.

That changed the next morning, when we walked to the client’s office and had to navigate through streets buzzing with people making their way to their offices. Not without stopping at their  favourite coffee place – mostly all independent, little sign of the chains dominating British streets – for their favourite coffee prepared by their favourite barista. Thus armed, the Kimble workshops could begin.

Some background: The client’s business is providing software for large institutions in the education sector. Their implementation projects can run from a few months to three years; with the odd short-term consulting assignments. In addition to that, they recently acquired another company, which provides similar software to smaller educational institutions. They employ over 200 staff. The business has grown substantially in a short period of time and this is why they are now looking to put their systems on a more professional footing.

The aim of the Kimble workshops was to work through the client’s business scenarios to ensure that the initial configuration was fit for purpose and to identify areas requiring further tweaking. We had managed to gather a group of senior staff in the client’s organisation. Their approach was very professional, pragmatic and good-humoured.

Not unexpectedly, we found that the level of familiarity with Kimble, expectations of Kimble and ways of running their part of the business varied substantially within the group. After having reviewed workings and outcomes of day 1, we adapted the format to ensure that topics common to all as well as those specific to business units were covered.

Sitting at the airport now and recalling the last four days, I can see how our work has switched on a few light bulbs as to how Kimble will support the client in putting their inner-workings on a more professional footing. Concepts such as capturing all cost related to an engagement; and not booking some of them such as travel to “overhead” pots; or measuring a consultant’s utilisation; considering how to deal with long travel days or weeks of their clients closing down in the middle of a long-term assignment; should certainly help them to further grow their business and profitability.

As with any organisation, I was fascinated by some of the client’s ways of working. They are in a similar business to ours – bringing about business change by implementing a software tool. Interestingly, they schedule their consultants centrally; typically the consultant is told which client to work on, when and where down to the day up to three months in advance. Many of our US and UK based client staff would find that incredibly prescriptive as many are only confirmed onto a job in the weeks before a client project starts. Would I, as a consultant, prefer to work like that? Do Australian clients expect and prefer their services to be managed with such precision in advance? Something to mull over on the long flight back.

For more information on how Felber Consulting can support growing, ambitious organisations take a look at our website or contact Felber Consulting at info@felberc.com or +44 (0)20 8891 5073.

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Community – for me that means the world!

Denise Pavey has a passion for cross cultural working and believes that this has brought a much broader perspective to her consulting work.

My next trip abroad is to Nepal and Pakistan in February and March 2014. I have been going to that part of the world since 1992. It’s hard to answer the question ‘Why do you go’? In one way I go because it feels to me like a second home. In another way I go to see places, people and to do work. Sometimes that work is paid sometimes its unpaid. Sometimes it’s sitting listening to people, offering advice, drinking tea or even just affirming people by the mere fact I’ve bothered to visit them.

I’ve been on at least 10 consulting trips to the region. I’ve helped people in crisis both with their relationships with authority and with their finances. I’ve advised on leadership development but more often I’ve reviewed and advised on the performance and sustainability of charity organisations.

Interviewing people through an interpreter is an interesting experience particularly when the interpreter is their boss and you are trying to find out how they feel about the organisation. Being treated as an ‘honorary chap’ allows meeting with both men and women as equals. It’s helped me to better understand and appreciate different people’s viewpoints, what drives them and what is important in life.I’ve made many good friends, I’ve got an interesting second wardrobe and I can even speak some Urdu … or at least enough to get around.

This next trip will involve some funded business consulting, some unfunded work, some ‘I’m here because we care’, some catching up with old friends & situations and finally some sort of holiday!

I just can’t wait!

Denise is a Felber consultant specialising in business change, governance, strategy development and leadership mentoring. She is also a very experienced bid manager and programme manager. You can read more about Denise and about Felber Community on our website.