10 years of “Doing It Our Way”
End of this month, Delaware Consulting celebrates its 10th anniversary as an independent partnership. This is a perfect excuse to look back, before focusing on the horizon again.
On our own
In 2003, on September 30, Luc Van Aelbroeck, Peter Oyserman and I decided to go for a management buy-out. I still remember the sound of relief I heard in our office when we announced the plan to our colleagues. We gathered all 124 professionals in one office in Kortrijk. Our strength was the combination of experiences we acquired the previous 20 years in the inspiring environments of Bekaert, Andersen and Deloitte. But above all, there was the ambition to “do it our way”, and the burning drive of entrepreneurship that pushed us forward.
A partnership, built on values
We started by questioning who we really were and what we wanted to accomplish. This exercise resulted in 2 main conclusions.
First of all, we had learned to appreciate the principle of partnerships in Andersen and Deloitte. Both models had their own advantages and challenges. We decided to combine the best of both worlds. This eventually led to our gLocal partnership structure of today, as I already explained in a previous blog post. This way, we decided not to consider this new, independent company as our property. On the contrary, we’ve set it up as a framework we were allowed to lead and foster during our own active career, in order to hand it over to next generations of partners as time evolved.
The second decision was in defining Delaware Consulting’s core values, because we believed it is essential to know who you are and – even more important – want to stay. We came to the five values we still cherish today: entrepreneurship, care, respect, team spirit and commitment. I guess I could easily fill a blog post on how we see and live each of these values.
The next priority was to direct our growth. By mid-2005 we had already grown our company with 50%, but we understood that growth alone is not a guarantee for success and continuity. We hired Roland Berger as external consultant to help us in further directing our growth.
This quickly resulted in reducing our software platforms to SAP and Microsoft only. It also led to our first international expansion. We chose to start in China, as most of our customers at the time were manufacturing companies, who were delocalizing and globalizing themselves. This way, we increased our relevancy to them. A second reason to choose China was the need to include offshore capacity in our offering, allowing us to reduce our average rates, mitigating the risk of becoming too expensive for our customers. Shortly after, we started in the USA in order to cover the world’s third main time zone.
As we continued to grow, we felt we needed to professionalize our structure and our processes. We defined new roles, established a shared service center and invested massively in our knowledge base and in optimizing our own methodologies ABC (Architecture Based Consulting) and PROMAR (Project Management Reinforcing). We also made sure our structure would not become too big and heavy. Having a flat hierarchy, allows for a structure that is both stable and agile.
So here we are today, 10 years later. The results have gone beyond my boldest dreams. We have grown to a young and vital company. Close to 850 enthusiastic professionals and 24 partners spread over 15 offices, 7 countries and 3 continents are proud to be part of the Delaware Consulting family.
“Combining Strengths, Delivering Solutions”, we partner with our customers. These are ambitious organizations who take up the challenge to achieve the next level of excellence and who strive for sustainable competitive advantage, making them stand out in their respective domains.
We consider ourselves to be our customers’ Sherpa, as we do everything to help them to the top. And we have always delivered on our promises, even when we encountered problems and unexpected situations.
I am proud we have been able to realize all of this without losing our company’s soul, our identity. Last week, we welcomed 42 new colleagues. Friday afternoon was dedicated to our company’s identity. I asked the new joiners what they felt, what they had experienced during their first week. It was reassuring to see that I was able to link almost all their answers to our identity: our values, the general atmosphere, the flat hierarchy, the motivation and the pride of the people they had seen…
Most of all, I was pleased with the statement of someone who left our company exactly 10 years ago and who came back last week. She said: “It immediately felt like coming home. The people haven’t changed. Delaware Consulting has professionalized though, and its approach to its customers is better structured now, but the inside is still the same.”
I don’t need to say more. I’m thankful for the past 10 years and I’m burning to contribute my share to the next 10 years, together with my professional family at Delaware Consulting, supported by our business partners and our customers!