I’ve come to believe that in business, as in life, there is a time for everything—a time to invest, a time to reap profits; a time to keep quiet, a time to speak up; and a time to build, a time to break down.
Stay with me—I’m not one to wax philosophical for long. But if you think about it, this really is true. And as business leaders, we have a duty to sense what “time” it is for our companies and be courageous enough to embrace it.
That’s what we did recently at West Monroe. Our executives sensed a time for West Monroe to be bold—bold with our words, bold with our vision, and bold with our actions. As a firm known for our humility, this was new territory for us.
Our first step was building a bolder brand. In 2020, we got clearer with our value proposition in the market and took bold stances on being a different type of consulting firm to work with based on our approach and our people. We put a stake in the ground on driving financial value for clients—a concept too rare in the consulting world. We also adopted a bolder stance on diversity, equity, and inclusion, creating measurable goals that we could use to hold ourselves accountable for hiring, philanthropy, and making an impact in our communities. Then it was setting a bold vision for the future—to become the No. 1 global digital services firm that helps companies be digital, not just do digital.
To make our bold words come true and our bold vision come to life, we had to make some decisions—you guessed it, bold ones. If you haven’t seen the news coming out of West Monroe the last two months, we took on an investment partnership from MSD Partners, a firm backed by the family office of Michael Dell. The partnership is pivotal to fueling our next stage of growth. We can better invest in acquisitions, international expansion, asset development, and upskilling employees—all moves that are necessary to realizing the vision.
These decisions upended the status quo and unfurled change on our people during a time of great volatility and change in the other areas of life and work, but I have no regrets and based on the excitement and energy among our people right now, neither would they.
Others are making bold moves, too. Take General Electric, which recently made the bold decision to break into three companies. No doubt the conglomerate, a darling of 20th century business, struggled over the last decade. After selling off its appliance division and even its lightbulb business (after 129 years!), the company still hadn’t reached a good point. It’s too soon to tell if this is the right move for GE, but their executives should be applauded for making a bold move when the company needed one.
Facebook is another company making a bold move, placing a big bet on the Metaverse. It’s going as far as rebranding the company to the name “Meta.” Who would have thought that a company as famous as Facebook would ever rebrand? Regardless of your opinion on their intentions, it’s a daring decision to rebrand your company on a concept unproven in the rocky, digital world. It represents another move that’s too soon to judge, but I applaud them for making a bold move and stepping into uncharted territory.
And that’s the point.
I’m not suggesting it’s time for everyone to go bold. Not everyone needs to rebrand, find an investor, or break up their company. The point is, sense your company’s next step—and be courageous enough to pursue it.