INTERVIEW Anton Noë
Anton Noë took the initiative to launch the Youhere© network and is currently “Ringmaster” and one of the “Tool Masters”. Noë was interviewed by Jon Henham. This took place as a part of a Carousel of interviews organized by “The Entrepreneurial Network”, a network of Business and Management Consultants.
___________________ Can you share something about your background and the reasons that you are making this move in your career? I studied International Business Administration at the American University in Paris. Shortly after this period I was approached by a friend who worked for an American Consulting Organization. Inter-
views were organized and I started my first assignment as a Junior Consultant in October 1982. Today, October 2012, I look back at a rewarding experience and fascinating period during which I
Business Review have worked as a Business Consultant in more than 20 countries on literary hundreds of assignments in almost all types of Business. I have been Project Manager, Vice President of Operations, Chief Presenting Analyst, Operations Director, Managing Director, and CEO of various Business and Management Consulting Companies. Even though I have worked a lot as a manager of Management Consultants, I have come to realize that that is not my strength. In fact, I don’t like managing people merely because I happen to be their boss in a hierarchical sense . I prefer to be recognized as an expert and professional in certain fields. I prefer to be followed because I have something to say that is worth following, not because I am authorized by rank and line of command to tell people what to do. Within the limits of my professional skills, and they are in fact quit limited, I like digging into work practices in order to really grasp what’s going on. I Like to use this understanding to develop clear perspectives of future opportunities and ways to achieve true and lasting benefits in organizations of all kinds.
Over the years I have learned that I am good, very good, at using only a limited number of tools. Those are the tool that I want to stick to and that I will propose to my clients; Business and Marketing Consultants. I am very proud that my preferences and visions are shared by a number of real professionals that I have been lucky to meet over the years. Professionals who have come to understand what makes them true professionals and what specific skills and tools make them the best in their specific. We are not (and do not work with) so called “Jacks of all trades” that claim to be capable of doing and delivering everything that a company needs in the process of change and innovation or even survival. This is why I decided, together with a number of real professionals in my network, to create this new label; Youhere©. A label for by professionals for professionals.
The first thing that puzzled me is the name; Youhere© , Where does it come from? What does it mean? You are right to ask that question. We started this initiative by listing the value that we can create for our market. From the beginning it was clear that we want to work for Consultants. Wait … let me to broaden this and then be more specific…. In a broad sense: we offer our services to high end B2B service providers; Business Consultants, Management Consultants, Advisors, Providers of Interim Management Solutions, Accountants and so forth. More specific: we offer our services to professionals who are involved in Business Process Rede-
sign Programs, Change Management, Turn Around Management, Crisis Management. Consultants that work for in middle sized to large organizations where large volumes of services and/or products are ‘made’ and delivered. In short, we want to offer our tools and services to top notch professionals who are asked and trusted to deal with complex and crucial challenges. We are talking about professionals that either work for International Consultancies or work in Boutique Niche Consulting Groups. With other words, they work under their own labels.
Thank you for that Anton, but can I have an answer to my question please? Yes of course. Everything we produce, will be Private Label; “under our client’s own label”, unless © the client wishes differently. Youhere refers to
that; ‘your logo here’, the place where the client’s logo will be. It’s as simple as that.
Anton, you state that Youhere© provides tools and tool related expertise to Business and Management Consultants…. What does that mean? Contrary to what some people believe, Management and Business Consultancy is not about talking and thinking and advising. It’s not about serious gentleman in grey suits that determine the future course of action. Consultancy is a profession. Before decisions are made and innovations and improvements are implemented it is necessary to get the facts and to know exactly what the consequences are of a specific course of action. Analytical and diagnostic tools are required In that process. We, Youhere©, provide the tools and the skills
that are required. We do this as transparent and methodically as we can. Each tool comes with a Tool Master. Our clients, experienced Consultants, tell us which tool to use and what they want to get out of it. We confirm and engage on detailed deliverables. We deliver according to previously agreed specifications
That sounds like textbook stuff Anton, some terms need more explanation. Can you be more specific? Sure, this is something that we have thought about a lot. We use clear definitions. Tool: is a well documented method or procedure that has been tested and used in various situations and environments. Tool Master: is somebody who has used a specific tool repeatedQUOTE: ly and who knows and A tool is like a music understands how to instrument, in the turn the use of a spehands of an amateur cific tool into a valuait can produce atroble outcome or concious sounds clusion. Detailed deliverables: most of our tools are analytical tools, they provide insight and understanding in otherwise unclear themes and situations. We will never commit up front to delivering a certain
‘desired’ outcome. We will however commit to deliver the agreed components of the analysis outcome. Be it merely data or be it data (1) + interpretation (2) + facts (3) + conclusions (4) + (5) comprehensive analyses reporting + presentation materials (6). Agreed specification: format, language, house style of cliQUOTE: ent (consulting A diagnostic tool is organization), insupposed to create formation carrier an objective diag(paper, portal, nosis. It is not mend digital, tec.) to confirm what the doctor thinks.
Business Review The Business and Management Consultancy market is not very ‘Booming’ these days. Why wouldn’t experienced Consultants do this themselves? Because they are experienced professionals. Why does a surgeon not do the work of a radiologist? Why does a Registered Account not do the work of a Bookkeeper. Our Tool Masters are Masters in using their tools.
They have done so for a long time, in many environments, often in challenging situations and usually with good results.
Are you a threat to Consultants? Does Youhere© not compete with Business and Management Consultants? … with their own clients? That is a very valid question. In fact our clients, Business and Management Consultants raise the same question. So I am glad to address this concern. Firstly, we’d be out of business in no time if our clients have the experience that we go to their clients directly. The Business and Management Consultancy world is a small world. If we would do that only once then that would be the end of Youhere©. Secondly, we would be in legal battles all the time as we agree to work with a non-compete agreement. Obviously we also comply with the nondisclosure clauses that our clients agree with their clients.
Thirdly, we work in the operational areas of the organization, that is where we create most value. We do not operate in the strategic area, together with the CXO’s, the VP’s and the Boards, that is the domain where our clients work. Fourth and lastly, we produce half-fabricates, they are useless without being assembled into final products. It’s comparable to a car, we can provide a lot of sub-assemblies like the engine or the electronics but we have neither the people nor do we have the marketing to produce, distribute and bring to market the final vehicle.
Are you comparing Business Consultancy with Car Manufacturing? Yes, in fact, I am. Intelligent sourcing, balanced supply chain logistics and co-creative work practices are the only reason that we in Europe still have a car industry. Europe still makes the best cars in the world even though the cost of labor is much higher than in competing regions. Coentrepreneurship and a strong focus on best practices and World Class Excellence make the difference between success and failure. We believe that the high end B2B service Industry needs to develop World Class standards as well. Some of the very very big International Consulting practices, say, “the big 5” have most required talent, competences and skills ‘in-house’. The problem there is that they need to allocate the right talent, high potentials, at the right time to the right
job. Many other Consultancies, even the big firms on national levels don’t have all the skills at their immediate disposal on an if and when needed basis. That’s where we come in. We work with the best firms, i.e., the firms that understand that they are not super heroes, specialized in all areas of Business and Management Consultancy. That is where we come in. We deliver a few very specific tools with specialized QUOTE: people that master We are pretty sure that these tools. We do not what we do, we do betwork in the strategic or ter. tactical domains of the organization, but restrict ourselves to the so called work floor.
__________________ Material used during interview
Youhere ÂŠ We work primarily in the operational areas of organizations. We conduct operational studies. We gather data and information, we conduct surveys and we deliver great insights in operational work practices. We support consultants in the tactical (management) and strategic (CXO) areas with great conclusions, fantastic presentations and compelling arguments to further strengthen the relationships with their clients.
___________________ Can you give me an example of a tool that YouhereÂŠ delivers? Yes. Allow me give you two examples. One that I consider a classical tool that has been used by myself for more than 20 years; the Brown Paper Workshop and one that I am very proud of Prezi. The Brown paper Workshop is a tool that we offer for a set price, it entails 3 steps; 1. preparing the workshop with attendees, 2. the workshop 3. the reporting this tool will deliver the following: - A transparent insight in the actual processes and work practices of any organization - A full inventory of areas of improvement, obstacles in the work processes, made by the same people that are working in the process. - A categorized plan of action and a comprehensive presentation of steps to take to improve the work practices
A photographic documentary of the workshop, More importantly, the Brown Paper Workshop is usually the start of a collective improvement program based on peopleâ€™s own perceptions and on broad consensus. These deliverables will put our clients, anagement an Business Consultants who hired us to use the tool and deliver the above effects, in a great position to agree on more work, follow up steps, maybe the next phase of a project. The second example is based on the skills of one of my partners in the use of Prezi. Not only does Prezi make Powerpoint look like a dull and boring medium. More important is that Prezi is unequalled in getting a message across What makes our services in the area of preparing presentations unique is not our understanding of the software tool alone. Its is our expertise at creating buy in at all levels of the organization.
Business Review What is the benefit for your clients? Why would Business and Management Consultants spend money on Youhere©? We are here for them “if and when needed basis”. We provide top quality analyses and diagnostics on an operational level.
phase of a program after a readiness or feasibility study, or a Go Ahead.
We identify opportunities and point out obstacles in the operational arena.
We provide our services at a cost level that is lower than the cost of deploying Junior Consultants.
We co-create meaningful solutions.
QUOTE: Our Tool Masters know what they are doing, What they do they do first time right. Major projects are not training grounds for Junior Consultants
Our tools are designed to help the Consultant to get repeat business, or more business, or an agreement to do the next
You operate as Private Label Service Provider. How do the Labels Owners react to that? How do the people of Youhere© present themselves to the final client? They often don’t and it’s certainly not necessary when we do an assignment based on a web based tool like a survey or when we are asked to crunch data. When we do meet with the end client, we agree with our client, usually the main contracting
consulting company, how we present ourselves. We will carry their business cards if that is required.
That’s is only part of the answer, let me try again Anton: Why do you operate on the basis of Private Label? The Business and Management Consultancy world is getting more mature. The times that you could get a guy with a suit to be invoiced at € 6.000,- per week is long gone. They were called “Billing Cattle”. Back in the 1970-ies and until the beginning of this century Management Consultancies got away with that type of quality. Those days are gone, for good and for the good. Practices like that have given the whole Consulting Industry a very bad name. These days, Consultancies are getting more and more specialized and professional and by the way, so are their clients. The counter-effect of specialization is that serious Consultants no longer act like – or present themselves as– a Jack of all trades. This process of maturating is comparable to the building industry; there are no builders that do everything themselves, they can’t, they don’t want to and, by the way, it’s way too expensive.
The same applies to automobile industry, or the food industry for that matter, there is not one single company that makes every single part of the end product. Youhere© is positioned in the supply chain of the serious Consulting Companies, we build truly co-creative relationships with Business and Management Consultants by contracting exclusively on the basis of Private Label conditions: 1. Our tools, reports and all output is generated “under” our client’s logo, with their house style and label. 2. We comply with our client’s operational standards. 3. We work within previously agreed areas and scope 4. What we do, we do well. In fact, we think we are the best at what we do. 5. Our aim is to make our client succeed getting a major, more substantial assignment.
You didn’t start this initiative very long ago Anton. Who did you work for? First of all, I have worked as a contractor for a number of international Management and Business Consultancy organizations for over 15 years. The same can be said about my network partners © who have committed to work with Youhere . We have been and are working with some top ranking Consulting Organizations but also boutique and niche Consulting Bureaus know where to find us. We are used to working on international assignments in multiple countries and we provide experienced, knowledgeable and matching professionals to get the job done.
Since we started this initiative we have offered our services and actually supported 5 clients. Let me share the background of two of them. NewBeng; a highly qualified boutique consultancy with offices in various European countries and market leading clients across Europe. The Holland Talent Group. They are one of the few fast growing Interim Management Agencies in the B2B market. The Holland Talent Group provides highly qualified financial professionals to both public and private clients.
Anton NoĂŤ POB 238 5110 AE Baarle-Nassau Netherlands ____________________ firstname.lastname@example.org T: +31654754474