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December 2021

Issue 3, 2021

DATE

December 2021

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Who says it can't be done?

Editorial

Welcome to this special 135th-anniversary edition of Prism!

How many consulting firms in the world could celebrate 135 years since their founding? Well, none, actually, apart from ADL. As every member of the firm knows, Arthur Dehon Little founded the world’s first management consulting firm in 1886 in Boston, Massachusetts. The story of the firm since then is a remarkable one, punctuated by a series of pioneering achievements throughout the decades, as well as some challenging times, and culminating in the thriving partnership we see today.

To mark the anniversary, we wanted, of course, to look back and celebrate some of the highlights in the firm’s history. But business focuses on the future, so we also wanted to share our perspectives on what is to come in today’s uncertain world. In our first article, “Rebalancing for tomorrow”, we take a broad perspective on what lies ahead and what might be some of the most important considerations for business over the next five to 10 years.

Next, we thought it would be interesting to reflect on our own industry – management consulting – and why it matters to the world. After all, outside the business world, there are many to whom its value is unclear. We make the case and illustrate it throughout with some of the many groundbreaking examples from our own firm. To complete the picture, in our third article we focus on how management consulting might evolve in the future to ensure that it continues to add value to the business world.

Consulting might seem to be quite a “hard” discipline, but most insiders know it’s actually all about people. Indeed, this is one of the reasons it’s so fascinating. In our fourth article, we look at the remarkable people – inventors, innovators and pathfinders – who have made our firm what it is today.

Saving the best till last, we finish with a fascinating interview with the CEO of ADL, Ignacio Garcia-Alves, who explains how ADL was reborn 10 years ago as a true partnership, and the journey since then to the present day and beyond. It’s a story that perfectly illustrates the famous motto of Arthur Dehon Little, still woven deeply into the fabric of the firm today: “Who says it can’t be done?”

How many consulting firms in the world could celebrate 135 years since their founding? Well, none, actually, apart from ADL. As every member of the firm knows, Arthur Dehon Little founded the world’s first management consulting firm in 1886 in Boston, Massachusetts. The story of the firm since then is a remarkable one, punctuated by a series of pioneering achievements throughout the decades, as well as some challenging times, and culminating in the thriving partnership we see today.

Who says it can't be done?

DATE

December 2021

Issue 3, 2021

Editorial

Welcome to this special 135th-anniversary edition of Prism!

How many consulting firms in the world could celebrate 135 years since their founding? Well, none, actually, apart from ADL. As every member of the firm knows, Arthur Dehon Little founded the world’s first management consulting firm in 1886 in Boston, Massachusetts. The story of the firm since then is a remarkable one, punctuated by a series of pioneering achievements throughout the decades, as well as some challenging times, and culminating in the thriving partnership we see today.

To mark the anniversary, we wanted, of course, to look back and celebrate some of the highlights in the firm’s history. But business focuses on the future, so we also wanted to share our perspectives on what is to come in today’s uncertain world. In our first article, “Rebalancing for tomorrow”, we take a broad perspective on what lies ahead and what might be some of the most important considerations for business over the next five to 10 years.

Next, we thought it would be interesting to reflect on our own industry – management consulting – and why it matters to the world. After all, outside the business world, there are many to whom its value is unclear. We make the case and illustrate it throughout with some of the many groundbreaking examples from our own firm. To complete the picture, in our third article we focus on how management consulting might evolve in the future to ensure that it continues to add value to the business world.

Consulting might seem to be quite a “hard” discipline, but most insiders know it’s actually all about people. Indeed, this is one of the reasons it’s so fascinating. In our fourth article, we look at the remarkable people – inventors, innovators and pathfinders – who have made our firm what it is today.

Saving the best till last, we finish with a fascinating interview with the CEO of ADL, Ignacio Garcia-Alves, who explains how ADL was reborn 10 years ago as a true partnership, and the journey since then to the present day and beyond. It’s a story that perfectly illustrates the famous motto of Arthur Dehon Little, still woven deeply into the fabric of the firm today: “Who says it can’t be done?”

How many consulting firms in the world could celebrate 135 years since their founding? Well, none, actually, apart from ADL. As every member of the firm knows, Arthur Dehon Little founded the world’s first management consulting firm in 1886 in Boston, Massachusetts. The story of the firm since then is a remarkable one, punctuated by a series of pioneering achievements throughout the decades, as well as some challenging times, and culminating in the thriving partnership we see today.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Rebalancing for tomorrow

As the old joke runs, "it's difficult to make predictions, especially about the future." That said, the ability to help clients anticipate the future, embrace new opportunities, and transform their operations has always been a central part of Arthur D. Little's consulting philosophy. It's fitting then that, as we celebrate our 135th anniversary, we should reflect on where the business world is today and identify some important priorities for the future.

Why consultancy matters - A historical perspective

In this article, we explore some of the ways management consultancy has helped to shape the world we live in today, as illustrated by the history of ADL. As the world's first management and research consultancy, ADL pioneered many of the approaches that enabled the industry to develop, repeatedly breaking new ground throughout its 135-year history

The Future of consultancy

As emerging technologies and digital transformation open up new market space and opportunities, consultants need to reconfigure their approach and reject obsolete legacy models if they are to remain relevant to modern business. They must be seen as value creators in genuine partnerships with their clients, rather than just third-party service providers.

Inventors, innovators, pathfinders

Arthur D. Little is a company built on the singular vision and dedication of the man whose name it bears and his conviction that the application of the scientific method could revolutionize business. However, while Arthur Dehon Little remained the driving force behind the company right up until his death in 1935, he was supported in his endeavor by a team of hugely talented individuals, all of whom were pathfinders in their own right, as ADL strove to change the way that industry worked.

Who says it can't be done?

During the 1990s, it is fair to say that Arthur D. Little endured a difficult period in its evolution. Although client work continued successfully, the firm failed to grow as fast as its competitors and, following a financial crisis, was eventually acquired by French technology firm Altran in 2002. Under Altran's ownership, the firm grew slowly, but it was only after a management buyout (MBO) on December 30, 2011, that Arthur D. Little was truly reborn as a successful partnership with a thriving and rapidly expanding business.

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