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Pollinating businesses with great sustainability and CSR ideas

By 19th July 2017 Blog, CSR, Sustainability No Comments

We go from business to business, sharing acquired knowledge in the same way that bees pollinate flowers.

It helps our clients make sustainability and CSR improvements faster.

Every company is different, but the challenges they face often bear a striking resemblance to those we’ve helped previous clients to overcome in the past.

As a learning organisation, we place great stock in debriefing at the end of client projects in order to examine whether we’ve learned anything new that might prove useful in the future. If we have, we record that and we might even make changes to our approaches or processes and procedures in order to ensure that any lessons learned are implemented in the future.

It’s this Learning From Experience (LFE) ability that makes consultants like us so valuable.

Where LFE adds value

Like the bee that collects pollen from one flower to then deposit some of it one another, we collect knowledge from one client and share that with others.

Because we work with multiple clients, across industries, we’re constantly presented with learning opportunities – opportunities that staff in client businesses miss out on because they only tend to see what goes on within their own organisation.

It translates into value for our clients by shrinking the length of time it takes to go from problem identification through idea generation and solution selection, to implementation and improvement.

That time saving can add-up to a considerable cost saving.

Interval vs external cost

A common reason why businesses will try a DIY solution using in-house people resources is because they don’t recognise that as a cost: the people involved are going to be paid regardless, and so they’re an overhead, whereas a consultant’s fee results in much more obvious and tangible expenditure in the Profit & Loss account and an additional cash outlay.

But it is often a false economy because of that lack of LFE that exists within businesses.

Here’s what we mean:

Imagine that an employee earning £20,000 a year is given the task of delivering a sustainability or CSR-related improvement, and allocates 1 day a week of their time to the project. That 1 day is worth around £88 (when Employer’s National Insurance is added).

They’ll typically spend around 3 months researching and getting familiar with the options that might be available, speaking to colleagues and engaging them in their project. That’s 12 weeks of £88, or £1,056. And so far, nothing has changed. They’ll spend at least a month working through a process of optioneering to try and determine the most appropriate course of action (another £352) and then a couple of weeks seeking to obtain management approval for changes (£176), another couple of weeks explaining to colleagues about the upcoming changes (£176). And then they might spend 3 months on implementation (£1,056). That’s a total of 8 months from beginning to end, at a direct cost of £2,816.

But then, of course, there’s the opportunity cost to consider – what would that employee have achieved in their normal job over those same 32 days on which they’ve been engaged to deliver a project in a discipline with which they are unfamiliar?

A good consultant, on the other hand, might charge around £800 per day for their time and expertise but their external costs are essentially offset by the fact that they are able to accelerate the entire process by identifying the right solutions in less time, and by shrinking the cycle so you start to accrue the benefits of your changes sooner.

In the example above, it’s quite possible that you could achieve the same end result, but quicker, with just 3 days of consultant’s time (£2,400) and without having to distract an existing employee from their normal duties.

What you get for your money

When you work with a sustainability and CSR consultant, you’re accessing a breadth and depth of knowledge that doesn’t already exist in your business.

You’re working with someone that’s probably seen similar issues elsewhere, and therefore has a better grasp of where to start and what’s most likely to work in your situation.

That’s not to say that it’s a ‘cut-and-paste’ every time because it’s not – or at least, it shouldn’t be, and that’s the difference between a good consultant and a bad one, because whilst transferring acquired knowledge from elsewhere, it’s still necessary to import ideas with an understanding of the organisation to which they are being transplanted. Misunderstand it’s culture and capabilities and your solution won’t work.

If you’re working with a good consultant, you’ll find that implementing improvements is quicker and less problematic than if you seek to do it on your own.

This isn’t a sales pitch, it’s a guide to making beneficial changes in a way that will help power your growth by making the best use of the resources at your disposal.

…but, if you should find you want some assistance in the pursuit of your sustainability and CSR goals, [email protected]

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