Creative Data Studio

Gundars kokins

As a client have you ever found yourself looking at a PowerPoint presentation created by an expensive consultancy agency and have no freakin’ idea how to implement any of the given information? The fault doesn’t lie in the contents of the slides as it illuminates the pain points (most of which your team was already aware of), but it sucks to admit that you have paid a decent amount of money just to find yourself facing the exact same problems but now with a ribbon on them. Unfortunately, often this is exactly how consulting agencies operate these days. It’s all about overpromising, under-delivering and leaving you hanging out to dry. 

“Who is he to say something like that?” you might be wondering. Hate to say it, but I’m describing my own experience. Let me tell you about it.

“I came in like a wrecking ball”:
My eye-opening experience with a consulting agency

Have you ever found yourself staring at the numbers on your computer screen, knowing that something has to change, and fast? This was exactly the case. Despite rapid growth, the company I was working for at the time was facing a major roadblock – an outdated IT infrastructure on top of poorly defined processes without clear goals: a foundation that simply couldn’t keep up with the demands of our business. It needed attention, and the sooner, the better, but no one on the team had the time or the skills to figure out what to solve and how to solve it to bring the process to the next level. 

At the time, it didn’t seem extraordinary to seek help from a consulting industry. After all, for years, these agencies have been entrusted to help businesses in situations like this to navigate all kinds of complex problems and emerge better than ever; at least that’s the promise stated on most of their websites. We had used agencies before and felt that this case was no exception to continue the common practice. 

Only this time, it was my head on the line, not someone else’s. Let’s be honest, that’s the main reason it opened my eyes; it was my budget, my prestige and my reputation on the line.

A common practice gone wrong

A few weeks later, I found myself in a meeting room with the consulting agency’s team, watching them set up their PowerPoint presentation. The consultant demonstrated beautiful slide after slide, outlining the background, all the hard work they had done and their findings. I saw my colleagues nodding in agreement and felt reassured that we were in good hands. For a moment, I even felt proud as I was the one to bring them on.

It seemed like we were on the same page, we felt seen, heard and understood – who wouldn’t like that, right?

The consultant guided us through the pain points we had already identified long before but couldn’t find solutions to – an enormous and clumsy paper trail, a CRM platform that wasn’t connected to the billing system or the web portal, all of which caused us to miss crucial information needed to better serve our customers. I agreed with the consultant – some of these processes involved too much manual labor and too many clicks. Truth be told – at that moment I even felt kind of connected to the consultant. It seemed like we were on the same page, we felt seen, heard and understood – who wouldn’t like that, right? This made me burst with excitement to finally hear the most important part of the presentation – the solutions or, in other words, what we could do to actually start changing and improving things.

Finally, the consultant in the expensive suite got to the most anticipated part – improvement ideas. To my disappointment, he presented solutions that our team had already considered but abandoned because they weren’t suitable for the specific needs and resources available for our company. For example, it was already clear that we should integrate the CRM platform with the billing system. In fact, we had even tried that in the past, but it turned out to be too expensive, as it required a custom approach with human and financial resources we simply didn’t have. 

I tried to stay open-minded, brushed off my concerns and kept listening, hoping that the consultant I just felt so connected to might have found a better solution for the same problem. After all, what do I know? He was the expert who promised an unmatched growth and industry leadership on the sales call.

But what if their situations and financial and human resource capabilities were not comparable to ours?

But, at one point, the presentation was over. I stumbled for a moment, confused, and then convinced myself that I had probably fallen into a daydream and missed some important piece of information that would provide the lifeline I was desperately seeking for the past few months, unable to deal with this problem. After all, they have seen this problem with many other notable companies in the past, and those solutions worked. But what if their situations and financial and human resource capabilities were not comparable to ours? I caught myself thinking, but I quickly silenced my anxiety. Everyone shook hands, promising to review the presentation deck individually and come up with an action plan of how to set this into motion.

Selling nicely packaged dreams without a roadmap is not enough

A few days passed, and I returned to my everyday grind with emails, meetings, calls and other operational tasks, unconsciously slipping into a self-induced blessed ignorance, until an email from the agency reminded me of the task at hand. As I opened the presentation and went through the slides again, a slight dread crept over me. I hadn’t the slightest idea what should be done next. To my own horror, I was able to answer the question I asked myself a few days earlier. The answer I wish I wouldn’t have come to was – no, I did not miss anything, there wasn’t ANY actionable solution in the presentation that my company could implement to solve our problem. I mean, other than the obvious solutions we had already come to earlier but failed to execute as it simply wasn’t possible in our case. For example, integrating the CRM and billing system. Sure, we had thought about that a lot but got crushed under the tons of challenges that came our way, and we still had no idea of how that should work. 

If I would have taken the PPT to my IT team, they would probably have laughed me out of the room, as the presentation didn’t include any actionable steps suitable to the unique situation we were in. In order to get to work, they needed to know what data, when and in what format should be exchanged, how often and what the exceptions were. 

The feeling of dread intensified even more

The feeling of dread intensified even more when reading about improving the cold-calling capabilities of our sales reps, as the consultants saw unused potential there. Alright, but who can provide this training, and how much might that cost? Are there any trainers who specialize in our industry, or would any trainers do?

As I stared at the suggested solutions, I felt the dread increasing. I realized that, instead of solving the problem, the idea of hiring a consultancy had made it even bigger because now I had 10x more questions than at the beginning. 

Suddenly the realization hit me like a wrecking ball. I had been sold a dream without a roadmap, and now I was stuck with Frankenstein’s monster. 

From Frustration to Innovation: The Birth of CDS

Sounds familiar? Unfortunately, it happens more often than anyone is willing to admit. This is a common problem in the consulting industry. It’s simple to adjust a PowerPoint template, but every business has its own unique story that consists of their wants, needs, goals, the vision behind their team, the values they represent, the experiences they want to bring their customers and, most importantly, the problems and pains that come in all shapes and sizes and simply cannot be solved by a simple copy and paste solution. 

We live in the fastest changing century that mankind has ever experienced. Solutions that worked only a few years ago (no, let me rephrase that – only a few months ago – hi, chat GPT) are no longer effective. In order to evolve and succeed, businesses need to act fast and think even faster, which can be achieved only by a brave, agile and creative approach. 

Back then, I made it my mission to one day help other businesses never find themselves in the same desperate situation. 

Long story short, I quit my job and teamed up with my co-founder, Alberts, who had been on the other side of the table as a consultant. Guess what? He was sick and tired of feeding nicely packaged dreams into companies’ mouths that they ended up choking on.  

No more bullsh*t promises that end up under-delivered and below expectations

So we made it our mantra that anything we propose to our clients needs to come with a specific plan on HOW exactly to achieve it in a way that’s most suited specifically to our clients’ needs.   Besides, we wouldn’t sleep peacefully until the project was successfully up and running. No more bullsh*t promises that end up under-delivered and below expectations. Throughout our own unpleasant experiences, something beautiful was born – CDS. It was fueled by our dissatisfaction with how things are done and in what position that leaves businesses that are already struggling. 

To tattoo our mantra in our minds and keep it strong with every new client we take on, we defined 8 commandments that we religiously stick to. We will share these in the next article, so stay tuned.

Meanwhile, let’s hop on a call and discover how we can leverage your resources to create a customized solution that sets you apart from the competition. 

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