Firm cuts costs of strategic change

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THE management consultancy field is so dominated by the big names that seeking its help is considered very expensive.

However, a two-man outfit based in central London is out to prove that this is not always the case. And Colin Sloman and Peter Wood claim that lower costs do not necessarily mean lower standards.

While the competitive fees and approachable style naturally appeal to smaller organisations, the principals of Sloman Wood claim that larger businesses also spot advantages in their service.

'They want the people they see to do the job,' Mr Wood said, adding that heads of individual departments often call in smaller consultants to give a different view to that put forward by the large firm advising the organisation as a whole.

Since the organisation is just the two of them, plus two associates, there are limits to the amount they can do. But the pair believe their blend of experience and their approach equip them to take on a broad range of work.

The association began nearly two years ago, when the two men met and found they had broadly similar attitudes to 'change management' - the currently fashionable concept that deals loosely with the human side of getting organisations to respond to challenges facing them.

Not that they had similar backgrounds. Mr Sloman started in advertising with Ogilvy & Mather and went on to become interested in marketing strategy. Mr Wood started in organisational behaviour before obtaining an MBA from London Business School and acting as a consultant in Southern Africa.

Perhaps mindful of what has happened to many management consultants' clients, Mr Sloman said: 'We are reluctant to rush into growth. We'll only grow when we meet other consultants with similar ideas.'

Much of their work comes through referrals, and recent appointments have ranged from 'a business that wants to grow but doesn't know where to start' to making the commercial department of a national newspaper more effective.

Although the former required a broad approach - setting out a strategy and implementing it - the latter was equally troublesome, because they needed to overcome the cynicism of the employees.

Mr Wood acknowledges that 'change management' has become a popular bandwagon. Nevertheless, he and Mr Sloman call themselves corporate change consultants on the basis that they have something special to offer clients.

'A classic project for us is to capture their knowledge and their expertise to get them to do what's necessary to get there,' Mr Sloman said.