Partnership as a Problem Solver

Great things happen when we work together – two pieces from the New York Times this month illustrate this brilliantly. The first piece describes a simple yet effective way for families to get out of poverty – the method – a regular conversation where families meet to discuss their goals, dreams and struggles. The study reports that over two years the incomes of families that participated increased by 27% and savings increased by 240%. That is just incredible.

The second article describes how the assembly line for the GM Sonic was created. Apparently the Sonic is the first subcompact car built on US soil in 40 years. Generally the margins of small cars are so low that the manufacturing must be exported to countries with low labor cost. With the Sonic, GM worked with labor unions, suppliers and environmental consultants to reduce the size of the plant, cost of inventory, and labor to bring production to Detroit. New parts and methods were developed to save cost, reduce energy consumption and improve productivity. Everyone had to make concessions yet the result is something that would not have been possible without everyone working together.

Both articles point to the power of collaboration.

I know that actually working with your workers and suppliers and employees to produce your desired result seems like a no brainer, but it is actually quite uncommon. This is particularly true in staffing where large corporations hire firms to manage their temporary staffing programs. In these instances the organization managing the temporary staffing for the corporation (called a Vendor Managed Service or VMS) stands as a wall between their client and the vendors of contract labor. This is particularly true in Financial Staffing where it sometimes seems as if Wall Street Firms feel that the vendors who provide them with accountants, analysts, project managers and operations professionals on a project or consulting basis cannot be trusted. In some cases the VMS does not allow contact with the hiring managers and in others they do not even answer questions about the jobs or answer requests attempting to get feedback on a consultant’s performance.

As we have seen with the two articles mentioned above, there is so much more that is possible when working together. As I interact with my investment banking clients I see several areas where collaboration would have an impact: The hiring process is massively ineffective and could be improved drastically – Staffing serves recruit, screen and interview our prospective consultants only to have our clients repeat the process when they have a need. If the VMS or staffing service had a greater profile, staffing services would gladly take on a significant portion of this process on their own.

I am also quite confident that within the financial services there are several transactional businesses that could run on a skeleton crew to be augmented during peak seasons with consultants. At the very least productivity could be improved with better feedback on performance. Other ideas would flow from a true commitment to dialogue.

Unfortunately the only real agent for change in this area is the Investment Banks and the VMS organizations. So when I asked myself what I could do to benefit from collaboration to improve our goals I immediately thought of our consultants.

This quarter, Wall Street Services is focusing on our core value – Care. We are looking to have the expression of this value front and center in our interactions and spend the next two months expanding our understanding and practice of this value. So the next couple of blog posts will be about Wall Street Services’ efforts to explore this core value and examining how we can better collaborate with our consultants.

I am looking forward to your feedback.

Peter Laughter
Wall Street Services