A more competitive market brought new competitors eyeing the firm’s niche. The firm was highly regarded, yet poorly differentiated. It defined itself as a “technical builder” serving specialized markets. They emphasized their craft assuming clients cared about the same things they did.
As with many professionals, the lesson that competence and experience gets one considered, but not hired, was a hard one. While existing clients understood why they were the best choice from first-hand experience, prospects didn’t.
Leveraging Their Strengths
In depth interviews of clients and partners revealed a genuine appreciation and respect for the way the firm handled high-impact projects. These are projects where not getting details perfect the first time, or even small delays have unusually large impacts on the client. These projects tend to be technically demanding, so the unexpected must be expected.
Not surprisingly, the firm’s culture, structure, and management style were to “over-manage” these very demanding projects. While this worked exceptionally well for the highly complex projects where they thrived, it made it hard for them to complete economically for other types of work.