How can you be 'aligned partners' without being competitors?

I want to share an excerpt from a recent lunchtime conversation with two friends. These two friends are folks I have worked with for over ten years. We are each working for different consulting firms now; for the sake of conversation we can call the firms Large, Medium and Small (APG). During lunch we were sharing stories about our clients, projects and teammates - just like old times.

A statement was made in the conversation that really stuck with me. My friend from the Large Firm said to me,

“I wish I could refer business your way, but we’re kind of in competition with one another.”

This comment actually surprised me! It feels like an eternity ago that I changed my perspective on competition within the consulting space. Years ago, my personal beliefs were sometimes at odds with conventional consulting business practices. My belief is that a consultant’s #1 Priority must be their client’s wellbeing. But with pressures in the form of resource utilization, balance sheets and even pride/ego, many firms never consider the idea of bringing in an outside partner to help preserve and promote the client’s wellbeing.

A key differentiator of APG is that we leverage our network of trusted, strategic partners to make sure our clients have exactly what they need to be successful. Our core team of project leaders, designers and solution architects have depth and breadth across many disciplines. But we cannot do it all…

Here’s one example: Virtual Reality development. Neither of my lunchtime friends’ Large or Medium firms have this capability. APG does; not because we have a laboratory full of media designers and developers, but because of our trusted partnership with a highly-reputable firm that designs and builds immersive Virtual Reality solutions for the United States military.

Think about your own careers: How many people have you met, formed relationships with and trust within your current company, companies you have worked for in the past, and companies associated with vendors and suppliers you have engaged over time?

Would it not be incredible to assemble a dream team, regardless of organizational or company boundaries, to solve a particularly gnarly situation?

Our approach has resulted in a 100% satisfaction and success rate of providing our clients a more well-rounded approach for implementations, better stewardship of our client’s resources, and increased satisfaction compared to the clients’ previous projects that engaged a single-source provider.

We believe this approach to consulting is so important to our values that we built it into our name:

Aligned = a shared belief that better results are achieved by convening an aligned collective of experts.

Partner = an implicit trust between firms to always have the client’s wellbeing as Priority #1.

Group = leveraging the hard work and life experiences of a curated group to address our clients’ toughest challenges.

My ask of you:

Clients, let’s talk about what you seek to accomplish. You have my commitment that APG will always bring the right teammates and partners to the table.

Fellow consultants, let’s talk about how we can break down legacy silos between firms, and work together towards a common purpose. Sounds too good to be true? This is our reality and a major area of pride in our organization, so it is definitely true!

- Justin Cullifer, Managing Partner

Justin Cullifer