A difficult to explain business gets focused
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A difficult to explain business gets focused

Service businesses often face a challenge. They provide a range of services tailored to each of their customers and much of the value they provide is because they are adaptable and they customize their offerings. Their services are intangible, flexible and difficult to sum up. You need to be succinct to sell successfully – particularly online. So what gives?

In the case of Big Tree Strategies, a business consultancy with over 15 years of experience delivering strategic planning, leadership development, team building and change management the challenge was acute. Bill Sedgwick, one of the two partners stated, “We get business through word of mouth and we know how to help companies succeed but marketing doesn’t help us.”


Before. The “point” of the business was not clear.


Indeed, their website was attractive but did not sum up their skills much differently than hundreds of other consultancies offering training and organizational development. The tagline, “Change that is grounded” didn’t clarify what they delivered.

The immediate opportunity was to crisp-up the brand offering. But how to sum up such all encompassing service?

After conducting research amongst senior members of teams managing large capital projects Big Tree found that amongst many variables the biggest determinant of their success – or failure – is how team members work together. Occasionally managers and professionals operate as a genuine team, overcoming obstacles, hitting tight timelines and achieving goals that at the outset look impossible. However, most organizations employ individuals who do their jobs but the organization fails to meet its objectives. The difference is team dynamics. In the effective teams everyone’s actions are directed to achieving a common purpose – or to use Big Tree’s terminology the team is “intentional”.

The idea of working effectively as a team is something that leaders understand. Most watch sports like hockey and football and know the difference between a group of players who are wearing the same jerseys and playing as individuals and a team where everyone is working together and loving it.

What is the best way to communicate the benefit of having an intentional team? We used a metaphor. Most senior managers track the return on their major capital assets and off the top of their heads can tell you the return on investment. Why not apply the same logic to teams? We posed the question, “If your capital assets operated at only 60% capacity you would do something about it – right?”>


After: “Making teams intentional” became the focus.

The “point” of focus for Big Tree was to increase team effectiveness. We changed the tagline to, “Making teams intentional.” And to help in the selling process we added an assessment tool to the website so managers can determine how their team is currently performing by taking a couple of minutes to answer 16 question.

Big Tree now has a clear focus that is easier to visualize and explain. The approach, “has completely redefined our practice,” explained Bill, “It has changed how we think about our business, how we talk about it and how we structure deals.”

“The concepts are simple but enormously challenging to communicate because they are so much a part of everyday business” stated partner Esther Ewing.  “We have been working on the concepts behind intentional teams for years. Now, it is exciting to have a clear focus that articulates the benefits for our clients.”

The focus grew out of the knowledge and approaches of the partners and yet arriving at it was a journey. It helped that Big Tree have the facilitation skills that made the process itself satisfying.

Does the new focus help differentiate Big Tree from everyone else in their field? Yes. Does it compromise the sophistication and breadth of what they actually deliver to their clients? No. For a team to be intentional there needs to be sound strategy and strong leadership which are necessary to make change happen and achieve the financial targets.

Does your team measure up? Take the Big Tree survey here.