A firefly is a force to be reckoned with.
In 1909, engineer Harrington Emerson noted that these small but mighty backyard wonders are 10,000 times more efficient in transforming energy into light than the incandescent light bulb. That’s the inspiration behind the Austin-based firm, Firefly Consulting: 20 people on a mission to help corporations operate more efficiently and effectively by implementing Innovation and Operational Excellence strategies.
“Industries will always need methods for design and process improvement – and will always need experts to guide them,” Kristine Nissen Bradley, a principal at Firefly Consulting tells Ivy Exec. “Our goal is to provide customized solutions to our clients to help them achieve their goals.”
Bradley joined Firefly in 2009 when the company’s founder, Kimberly Watson-Hemphill approached her to be the first on board. Like most of the consultants with the firm today, Bradley brings a wealth of experience: she has trained and coached several thousand Green Belts, Black Belts, Master Black Belts and Champions in Lean Six Sigma as well as Design for Lean Six Sigma around the world. She is also the co-author of Innovating Lean Six Sigma – A strategic guide to the world’s most successful business improvement process (McGraw-Hill, 2016)
“All of our consultants have at least 20 years experience,” Bradley says. “We exclusively provide experts, and we get to be selective with who joins our team. When we go into a company, we bring that depth of experience with us and collaborate with our clients to define their opportunities and tailor solutions to fit their business and culture.
Firefly works with clients that span a variety of industries including manufacturing, retail, consumer products, industrial products, financial services, healthcare, distribution, and pharmaceuticals.
The business of Lean Six Sigma consulting is a crowded field where Firefly has had to make a concerted effort to stand apart from the competition. Naturally, Bradley and her fellow consultants’ experience is a top selling point. Additionally, Firefly sees its strategy as unique: starting with the big picture questions that can help craft a customized solution that is tailored towards their business’ specific needs.
“We ask: Why do you want to implement Lean Six Sigma? What improvement opportunities are you trying to address with this initiative? What methods will work best in solving these problems? Who needs to be involved from the company in this initiative?” Bradley says, detailing how some early planning typically goes with her clients. “Even in planning our engagement, we want to make sure the client is well prepared to use the methods after we are gone. Knowledge transfer is at the core of what we value.”
Even with the company’s unique approach, Bradley notes that Firefly faces many of the typical recruiting challenges faced by most consulting firms. In particular, she points out that timing can be problematic.
“We hit a point when we’re ready to grow and suddenly we need to find people. Then, as we bring people on, we want to keep them. It’s a fine line of bringing people on and making sure you’ll have work for them in the future. We feel a real obligation to keep growing the business, but it’s a chicken and the egg argument: you either over-hire or are understaffed. “
Staffing challenges aside, Bradley is certain that the quality of her team at Firefly is unparalleled.
“There isn’t a person on my team that I wouldn’t want to start a project with tomorrow,” she says. “Each one of them has a high caliber of ability to interact with clients while being genuinely good people who are fun to work with.”