Interview: Paul Glass
Evolvereia is a new business consultancy, that is challenging the traditional consultancy business model to enable companies of all sizes to make successful transformation and grow their value. Our business idea and unique concept has already created a lot of interest from professional media and organisations.
Our founder, Paul Glass, explains what makes evolvereia different and how companies can benefit from its services.
Tell us a little about yourself?
I’m Scottish, and married with two young children. I’ve a variety of interests, motorsport especially being my passion. Professionally I have almost 30 years experience working for global market leading blue chip companies in a variety of senior roles and disciplines.
During the last ten years I have been based overseas where I was mainly involved in commercial, logistics and supply chain functions, focusing on business and transformation leadership. I returned to the UK at the end of last year to establish evolvereia.
What made you want to start up evolvereia?
I first had the ambition to have my own company when I was completing my postgraduate diploma in industrial administration. I was fascinated by retail, which then was going through a period of massive change and expansion. I was very interested in how some companies were innovating and becoming successful at that time. I joined Kingfisher as a graduate trainee for B&Q with the aim of gaining experience that would allow me to start my own retail company.
That developed into a successful career mainly working with large retail companies like IKEA, but also in industry across their value chains. Throughout that time, I worked increasingly in the areas of business transformation, change management and competence development, and recognised this as a strength and passion I had for business.
Over the last three years I began to think more about the value of this experience, and how this could be transferred into other businesses. The idea behind evolvereia started to develop from there.
It’s a turbulent time to be launching a new business, how does it feel?
Despite the current situation, it feels very good actually!
The coronavirus pandemic has of course brought unforeseen and heart breaking impacts to many across the world, and also huge disruption and challenges to many businesses and sectors. For many so far it has forced rapid innovation and change to enable survival.
This situation also comes on top of the pre-existing challenges and demands for businesses to adapt to an increasingly fast changing world, for example in technology and sustainability.
I’m sure we still only see the tip of the iceberg related to the consequences from the ’new normal’ and this will require even the most successful businesses to revaluate their strategies, value propositions and activities.
It did make me question my timing of launching the company, however there has never been a greater time for businesses to need and invest in the services evolvereia provides. In that respect it’s the perfect storm.
Evolvereia is quite a unusual name, what does it mean?
It's based on the plural of the Latin word ‘evolvere’ which means to transform, to develop and to grow. In our context it means 'in many ways' and having an offer accessible to many businesses.
Our logo represents our offer, emphasising our values of clarity and simplicity. The arrows represent transformation, and also using the full capabilities from the bottom up of an organisation and their people to change and grow value.
What makes evolvereia different from other business consultancies?
We offer a unique ‘end to end’ business transformation concept based on successful experience in established market leading innovative companies, and there is a significant value to that. We have identified the most effective and easy to adopt methodologies and tools that enable business transformation, and bring our coaching capability to enable companies to apply the concept, and create their own internal capabilities to achieve value growth.
Most consultancies come in to solve a problem, and provide specific capabilities that do not exist in a company. This can be effective in the short term, or to undertake a specific project, however when they leave there can be a lack of ownership and the transfer of these capabilities to enable sustained growth.
What makes us different is that our concept is about creating those internal capabilities in an organisation to drive ownership and to continually develop, this is where the long term value comes, and it's central to our offer.
The business consultancy sector has grown significantly, and micro consultancies are a fast growing segment that’s contributing to that. You only need a spark to light a fire, and there can be advantages in using a small consultancy, for example we can offer a comparably low cost service which makes our services accessible to SMEs as well as larger companies and organisations.
Why is a comparably low cost proposition important to you and how do you make it possible?
SMEs form the vast majority of businesses, and often are those with the greatest potential to grow and innovate, and therefore benefit from transformation. They are also often those who do not have the internal organisation scale to specialise in the capabilities we enable within an organisation.
We believe that all companies, and not just the few, should have the ability to access the knowledge and tools to be able to successfully grow value through business transformation - it’s the why?, behind our business idea.
Often the perception in such companies is that the ‘high’ cost of business consultancy is outwith their means, and that it’s not seen as an investment in their own capabilities. In the end its about creating value both in the service we provide but also from their results.
We have started the business from a blank sheet of paper, and have from the outset driven out all unnecessary costs to provide our service. We do not have - for example - any significant fixed business costs from offices, we operate with a similarly experienced team of freelance consultants and partners rather than employees, we do not spend heavily on marketing activities, nor do we enjoy expensive benefits or trappings in delivering our work.
All such costs in the end are borne by the client, so we have strived to not pass any unnecessary cost to them, and still provide an effective and high quality service. Our concept is also designed to minimise the internal costs of a company to work with it, and to be able to identify clear returns on investment from sustained value growth, and this makes us accessible especially to SMEs.
We work with companies and their people to unleash the hidden potential of an organisation, to create the internal capabilities to enable successful business transformation and value growth.
You highlight working with the potential in businesses to grow their value, how do you identify this?
Our concept focuses on three specific areas that offer the greatest potential to be successful.
Established research shows that companies who apply successful transformation methodologies are three times more successful than those that don’t. Research also identifies that companies who apply change management techniques with excellence realise 100% greater value growth than those who don’t. These are capabilities that we provide to clients through our concept.
These capabilities however are all delivered through people. The average potential that a person expresses is only 40% of what exists, it’s a huge potential to unleash. It means that companies undertaking transformation can be very successful in their results, by working with their own people.
Can you explain what business transformation is?
Transformation is all about moving from a current situation to a future situation, to achieve a defined set of goals as a result of a fundamental change.
Business transformation is about making these fundamental changes across many business dimensions, to create increased business value. The principles however can also be applied to many other organisations.
The reasons to make the change and the scope of the degree of change are the interesting part — for example it can be in response to a changing consumer environment, where the change like we experienced with the pandemic forces a company to change fundamentally the way they do things to meet their customer's needs and survive.
A transformation therefore may have several change management activities, across a number of business dimensions ongoing as part of a transformation. One change management activity alone, like introducing a new process, is probably more about business improvement.
Of course the bigger the transformation is, the more complex the change management needs become, and that’s why we focus very much on the interdependencies of a transformation programme - integrating project and change management in a co-ordinated way to deliver the best possible outcome.
Our concept and offer is also relevant however for those considering specific changes, and we can work that change through and often identify that a change in one dimension alone, will create other effects in the business which can be unforeseen through focusing on a change in isolation. This is a perfect example of where the high failure rate of transformation and change can arise.
Poorly executed transformation, can have a worse effect than the original situation was in the first place, and have significant impacts on customer satisfaction, turnover and even company share prices, and these things can take a long time to recover.
What do you mean by increased business value?
Any transformation should always start with clearly identifying the value stream and strategic goals that lead and benefit from transformation, and we define and work with business value in two ways.
Firstly the value that a company or organisation creates through providing a service or product that a customer is prepared to pay for, with a profit or similarly defined result. This can be grown through market share, revenue and also profitability.
Reducing the cost to a company in providing this service or product can be one way to increase value, but such lean approaches alone whilst important, may not increase value in the longer term. Often it's more than that and having an offer that grows revenues by being a more attractive proposition - that’s a value added proposition.
It's often strategically advantageous to grow profitability by a healthy top line growth, with a close attention to the bottom line through cost efficiencies. Cutting cost of course can bring a short term gain, but after time you reduce these potentials, often you need to invest to grow.
The second dimension of creating value is in the assets of a company, this can come in physical value often returned to shareholders, or the physical market value. This can depend of course on turnover and profitability, but many other things can influence this form of value growth.
We provide companies with an effective end-to-end transformation concept and coaching, that is based on proven methodologies and tools. We bring our proven experience of these gained in some of the worlds market leading innovative companies, to help companies realise their transformation needs and potential.
You mentioned earlier your ‘end-to-end‘ business transformation concept - how did this come about?
My years of experience with IKEA and Inter IKEA Group who are the concept owner of the IKEA brand, gave me unique insights into the value and success through being a conceptually driven and developed company that’s focused on customer needs. Therefore I wanted to transfer through a consultancy service a living concept to meet client's needs.
There are parallels in our offer and that of IKEA, principally in offering relevant and high quality low cost solutions for the many businesses, e.g. SMEs, and not just the few. There is also the aspect of ‘we do our part, you do your part, and together we save money.’
But IKEA is not the only organisation our experience comes from, our team have a wide experience in various businesses and sectors.
We also invest and continually update ourselves with the latest insights and developments to ensure we are relevant to our client's needs and our fast changing world.
But clearly IKEA has been very influential to you?
I’m very proud to have contributed to IKEA during the years Ingvar Kamprad was involved in the business, for sure he is a great inspiration to me as a person but also as a visionary and entrepreneur.
But there are many leaders and organisations, not just in business, who inspire me, sport for example produces some amazing leaders we can learn from, there are also genuine thought leaders like Simon Sinek and Guy Browning whom I greatly admire.
Whilst I do think that IKEA have some areas where they can improve, they are one of the world's most successful and innovative companies, and are often at the forefront of leading others in how they develop their value chain, with a strong focus on their people and their culture to enable that.
For example their strategic commitment to sustainability includes having all of their products manufactured from sustainable sources and materials by 2030. It was brought into place years before others, and set a relatively ambitious target.
Such a transformation is a huge undertaking for a company like they are, but it will also be a key value driver of their continued success into the future. They are also rapidly employing cutting edge digital technology like augmented reality in a way that is accessible and meets customer needs.
How do you see sustainability and social responsibility influencing the way business is done?
Simply put, it's not just important but essential for businesses to thrive in the future. So many major businesses are placing great focus on this topic as a key strategic objective for their future, which will drive many big business transformations.
Recent market research carried out by Nielsen, highlighted that 68% of consumers are willing to pay more for a sustainable product, and that will be an even higher level where the cost can be the same. That’s a huge opportunity both for business but also for the planet.
This can of course have a cost, but the demands of consumers are strongly moving in this direction and it is influencing their behaviour. So I see it as essential for survival not just growth. As part of our concept we evaluate several strategic approaches to this, for example working with Sustainable Development Goals, as it's such an important area to focus on.
The coronavirus pandemic may have moved many of the other challenges for business off the front pages, but they still exist, and as a result of the current situation are going to be even stronger influences of a businesses' strategy and transformation needs for their future success.
The businesses that will be the most successful in the future will be those that approach the challenges of a fast changing world as new opportunities. Such a mindset is vital for their future success.
What other changes do you see ahead, that businesses will have to respond to ?
This will place great demands on leadership, company culture and business agility. When bottom lines are pressurised it's easy to look to cost reduction, but this alone can have a detrimental effect on value growth.
Certain sectors will have greater needs than others, but for all businesses - even those successful today - there will be a need to review their strategies for the future, recognising the legacy created from the coronavirus, and the continuing uncertainty that will exist for some time. The possibilities and benefits of new technology also will speed up, for example in supply chain execution, and this brings new opportunities to improve value.
Shareholders have often in the past been the driver of business direction, but there will be more need to engage and deliver on other stakeholders needs to ensure long term success.
How do you see evolvereia in the future?
Our priority for the future will always be meeting the needs of our clients first, and I expect we will grow as a result of delivering our promise, enabling companies to achieve their potential to grow.
We are establishing our company and brands, and we have of course a strategy for the future. We are for example already developing an interactive on line platform for our business and clients, to complement our website, our services and our reach.
We also will continue to add suitably experienced and quality consultants to our company, to provide further capacity and scalability ,so we can meet the demands of increasing number of clients, not just in Scotland and the UK, but also overseas.
Neil Clark is a Marketing & Brand Consultant with particular experience in brand development and business transformation within the Manufacturing and Professional Services sectors. He can be contacted at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/neil-clark-6437642/