North Loop Consulting Firm Helps Small Businesses Weather the Current Crisis
Consulting is often one of the first things that gets slashed when budgets are pinched, but Pioneer Management Consulting, a North Loop firm specializing in business strategy, business operations, organizational change management, and data analytics, quickly found a way to stay relevant.
“Being a small business ourselves, when the pandemic hit, we knew we were in a unique position to help,” said Holly Williams, delivery director of organizational change at Pioneer. “As the U.S. was waking up to the severity of the pandemic, we formed a project team to develop a resilience heat map tool that would help any leadership team check the current state of their business, forecast the two-week and month-plus outlooks, and set the foundation for an action plan to address the highest priority areas of risk.”
And not only is the firm finding new ways to advise its clients in times of hardship, but it’s also leading by example.
“This environment is new to everyone, and no one has all the answers. What we have learned is to have the courage to step up to the challenge,” Williams said. “Try new things. Fail. Learn. Try again. We are not perfect experts, but we will roll up our sleeves, come with solutions, and do everything we can to lead with effective strategies.”
Q | How has your work changed/been disrupted by coronavirus?
A | “We would be hard-pressed to say we have not experienced disruption or change due to coronavirus. However, our ability to see change coming and react quickly has helped us weather the storm. At the onset of the pandemic, our entire team rallied to provide support to fellow teammates and to get creative about how we engage and support clients and prospects. Acquiring new business has been challenging as organizations try and wait out the uncertainty, but we believe our efforts now will help us come out stronger in the months to come and in a better position to serve our clients.”
Q | Anything you’re able to do right now to compensate for lost work, create new streams of revenue, and/or help your community?
A | “We are developing new tools, templates, content, and consultant training along with exploring new growth segments. When the pandemic’s severity in the U.S. increased, we began to quickly develop an interactive resilience heat map to provide a fast and actionable snapshot of an organization’s recovery capabilities. Our heat map tool allows us to partner with a business and guide recovery efforts through data-driven action planning. To start, our team created an intake form that gauges an organization’s risk level across seven different core business areas: business operations, customer engagement, employee wellness, financial resilience, IT readiness and infrastructure, portfolio and resource allocation, and strategy and adaptation. The intake form then populates a heat map, a data visualization tool that leadership teams can interact with. The heat map then informs what actions the team ought to take, equipping them to prioritize efforts with a focus on immediate needs. Our Pioneer team has created this to be a flexible tool that can be implemented very quickly, along with the support of several of our team members to guide the process and lead the organization to meaningful action in a short amount of time.
With our reliance planning, the team at Pioneer has been able to help organizations make sense of the chaotic business environment by helping them sort through rapidly evolving situations. The diagnosis heat map allows us to provide leaders with a quick and actionable snapshot of their organization’s crisis-response readiness, bringing clarity to leadership teams with a clear view of risks and emerging opportunities.
We are also investing time to focus on our community. Over the past few months, we have been donating our time to other small business owners—offering up our experts to assist with resilience planning and enhance their crisis management plans as they try to keep their businesses afloat. At the end of March, we also launched a two week give-back campaign where our 34 employees were compelled to make more than 200 positive impacts across our community and small businesses in the area. We made impacts large and small such as supporting local restaurants through take-out or purchasing gift cards, sewing masks, and making cards to send to nursing homes. These are just a few examples that demonstrate how we have rallied to show the community we are in this together—and we will come out of this together.”
Q | Any bright spots in this crisis that you’d like to share?
A | “A bright spot in all of this has been the support our team has generated for our community and each other. We started an internal ‘I’ve got your back’ campaign, where team members connect through random acts of kindness. It could be sending your co-worker a growler of their favorite craft beer, their favorite snack, or a simple card to say, ‘I’m thinking of you.’ Whether it’s having a coworker’s back or even a virtual dance party, this time has allowed us all to get to know each other and our clients on a whole new level. Virtual meetings have taken us inside each other’s homes to see personal office spaces, kids, pets, and a dose of real-life. We’ve collectively recognized the value of teamwork while leveraging all of us working together. It’s often heard on our team calls, ‘There is no other team I would rather be going through this with than this group right here.’”
Q | Do you anticipate your company going back to “normal” any time soon?
A | “We expect to find a new groove in how work gets done and, in some ways, we hope we don’t go back to ‘normal.’ In the new normal, we will use the key learnings we have found through personal connections while continuing to push forward in new ways.”