Making a Point
When companies want to get a job done without flying in
consultants from across the country or signing multiyear contracts,
they go to Point B. The management consulting firm specializes in
leadership and strategic execution for companies that need
immediate access to business professionals who can bring about real
Point B completes over 800 engagements each year. Clients range
from startups to Fortune 100 companies, and have included Alaska
Airlines, Microsoft, PetSmart, the Starbucks Coffee Company, the
State of Washington and Xerox. The firm's work has spanned a number
of industries, including banking and financial services, health
care, biotechnology, government, telecommunications, software and
technology, manufacturing, distribution, retail, insurance, and
media and entertainment.
$200 went so much further in the
Point B was founded in early 1995 by Jim Hodge, Tim Jenkins and
Darran Littlefield, three Seattle-area entrepreneurs and former
Accenture managers. Beginning with an initial investment of $200
and one client at launch, their decision to establish the firm was
built on a belief that most organizations were being underserved by
traditional consulting firms. The biggest issues, as far as the
founders saw it, were that traditional consulting firms often sent
inexperienced work teams to clients, spent too much time drafting
methodologies rather than effecting change, and were plagued by
potential conflicts of interest and an inability to execute.
Accordingly, Hodge, Jenkins and Littlefield started Point B with
the aim of doing things differently. Among other things, the firm
believes that "different" involves focusing specifically on
execution and actually getting projects done; providing flexible
access to leaders; eliminating "big firm" overhead; and avoiding
alliances, reseller agreements or other pairings-up that could
compromise the company's objectivity.
From 1995 until 2000, Point B established itself by focusing
exclusively on its local Seattle market, but has since expanded
nationally. Despite its expansion into new markets, however, the
firm believes in staying local; when a client calls for help, the
firm appoints a consultant who lives in or near the client's town.
That management philosophy reaps two major benefits: First,
consultants enjoy easier lifestyles and, second, because Point B
consultants hardly ever travel, clients save money by not working
with out-of-market experts. Geographically, Point B currently
serves clients in the Seattle, Phoenix, Portland, Denver, Bay Area,
Chicago and Southern California markets.
Jack of all trades
Point B's competitive advantage is not so much what it does, but
how reaches its end goals. Self-described experts in the "practical
art of getting things done," the firm works with clients on issues
such as integration following a merger or acquisition; process
improvement; getting new systems up and running (or maximizing the
use of existing systems); decision making; project launch or
turnaround; getting quick wins; recruitment issues and more. It
also works with clients in the areas of recruiting, business and
technical analysis and business case development.
Generally, Point B serves in a consultative role, but it is also
frequently asked to fill an interim leadership position and help
hire a replacement. Its consultants are selectively hired based on
their prior experience; new hires typically carry between seven and
15 years of experience in the business, and come from settings that
include successful startups, large corporations and leading
professional service firms.
Swimming with the big fish
While Point B claims to differentiate itself from the bigger
consulting shops through its unique and exclusive focus on bringing
the experience and unbiased consulting to help their clients
achieve their strategy, that doesn't stop it from butting heads
with some of the titans in the field. The likes of Accenture and
Deloitte offer similar consulting services as part of their menu of
services, a fact that occasionally leads them into competition with
Point B for contracts. The firm also faces competition from local
or specific industry-focused consultancies, but claims to have to
compete on less than 10 percent of its opportunities.
IN THE NEWS
Tops in the Nation
Monica Croy was named one of the top 25 consultants in the
Keep on Giving
Point B was named one of the
top corporate philanthropists in Washington state by the
Puget Sound Business Journal.
Point B's new President of Consulting talked to
Consulting Magazine about the secrets behind Point
B's award-winning culture.
Tops in Orange County
Point B was once again recognized for workplace culture in the
Southern California area. The firm was named one of the
top large employers in Orange County by the Orange County
Point B was named the third best place to work in Oregon by
Oregon Business Magazine in its "
100 Best Companies to Work For" competition. The annual
awards are based on the results of surveys completed by over 263
companies and nearly 14,000 employees across the state.