My Best-Ever Consulting Engagement

More than a year ago I posted My Worst-Ever Consulting Engagement. The other day somebody asked me about the other side of the coin, my best ever.

They called it “Challenge 95.” They hired a graphic artist to create a logo for it. When it was done they produced more than 300 T-shirts, one for each employee. On the day it was launched they held a big party.

Three years later, it hit 150% of the three-year goal.

The “they” in this story was Hector Saldana and Judy David of Apple Japan in 1991. They managed the plan project and me as a consultant.

The plan, however, was not theirs, or mine, but Apple Japan’s. It was a joint effort. It started in November of 1990 and finished in July of 1991. It was one of the best examples of collaborative strategic thinking. Hector and Judy facilitated, I facilitated, but the core was the work of an entire management team.

The challenge was to take Apple Japan sales from $180 million to $1 billion, and its market share from too small to measure, in 1990, to 10% or more.

When it was over, Apple Japan sold $1.5 billion in its fiscal 1995, not just $1 billion. And market share was closer to 20% than 10%.

Regarding the plan development, implementation, and the planning process, the project and the ideas and the strategies were always Apple Japan’s, not mine. As a consultant, I asked questions, I listened, I calculated the possible impact, I shared drafts, listened some more, and asked more questions. The work was very collaborative.

Regarding strategy, and lessons to be learned, the planning and the implementation focused very hard on just two key points and then the company stuck to those priorities, relentlessly, for three straight years. Nothing in the plan was particularly surprising. The implementation was consistent.

And the plan worked. And like all good consultant-facilitated business plans, it wasn’t my plan, my ideas, or my credit. It was collaborative, start to finish. And the owners of the plan were the people who implemented it, not the consultant who wrote it.


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