A New Chapter

Some of my most challenging and rewarding experiences have come in the last 3-4 years and I wouldn’t trade them in for the world.

Recently I decided to step down as Managing Director at Avantage Partners (www.Avantage.com), effective October 31, 2011 for several reasons:

  1. Term-based Leadership Assignments. At Avantage, we believe that leadership is not management and management is not leadership. We therefore instituted a policy from the very beginning that all leadership roles, or “leadership assignment” as we call them, would be term-based. My role as Managing Director for instance was a four-year term. I am now at the tail end of that term and this year has been one of transition to a new leadership team.
  2. Avantage has never been in a better position. Avantage today is stronger than it has ever been both financially and operationally. Our strategy of careful, measured growth has paid off through a period of economic uncertainty, while still allowing for the development of an extremely deep and skilled core consulting team.
  3. Avantage has a strong leadership team. I recognise that the company that I founded over four years ago is in great hands. A team led by Stephanie Hayes will continue to grow the company and ensure that it continues to be a preferred place to work for years to come.
  4. New Challenges. Ultimately though, after four years, I look forward to new challenges and opportunities. Avantage, in a sense, is an extension of two prior organisations that I co-founded, Form Consulting and Sunaptic Solutions. In a way I have been in this business (through all three organisations) for over 15yrs and I look forward to new challenges.

I am proud of some of the unconventional aspects of the Avantage business model that I developed, including “term-based leadership assignments” (vs. a management track), “total objectivity and transparency” (for ALL team members, including one organisational compensation model for all; total access to financials, accounting, legal and internal documents), and “open partnership” opportunities for all of our consultants, based on a completely objective and performance-based model.

We also demonstrated commitment to the concept of a “consultant’s consulting firm”. What we mean by that was providing a preferred place to practice for highly skilled professional consultants, within a narrow, specialised field. This allowed us to demonstrate that we were the best at what we do, deliver premium value at a fair price, and continue to develop deep capabilities in business integration as opposed to broad IT and business services skills.

We provided an extraordinarily flexible work environment, encouraging telecommuting and even pursuing “alternative markets” of skilled consultants (including stay-at-home professional mothers and remote workers outside of the Vancouver area).

I’m particularly proud of the research and development I led on The Connected Business Framework will no doubt continue, with further development of the various methodologies, tools and models that are included within the framework. Central to the Connected Business concept was that we felt that the key to commercial success in the present economic and political environment was a greater degree of “connectivity” between workers, trading partners and the services that we leverage internally and externally. The concept of “connectivity” was defined as a function of integration and of alignment. Our framework provides tools that helps to measure the current state of “connectivity” within the enterprise, develop a development strategy or roadmap to achieve a target state of “connectivity” as well as methodology on developing key underlining capabilities of the organization. We argued that organizations needed to look at internal processes, workflow and activities as services, each with unique contributed value, underlying cost and by extension “service margin” (value, less cost to deliver). It is only when we shift our thinking to a service-oriented mindset that we can find opportunities to drive greater integration and alignment of services between our workers and our trading partners, which delivers enhanced cost efficiencies, improved service delivery and a better overall competitive outlook.

Finally, I am most proud of the great name we have developed in the market place. We are known as highly skilled specialists that are clearly the deepest in the field of business integration, including shared service integration, service and process automation, application integration and workforce alignment.

As of the writing of this post, I have not yet committed to another opportunity, but have complete faith in the new leadership team to take Avantage in the direction that they deem best without the distraction of my continued involvement.

The team at Avantage remain, in my opinion, the best in the business and they have my complete support. I look forward to watching them succeed.