How Ascent-Advisor Enables Company-Wide Strategic Change From the Ground Up

organizational change

Juan Riboldi, a 20-year veteran of the consulting industry, and a passionate visionary in finding innovative approaches to improving processes and productivity, founded Ascent-Advisor in 2010.

During a time when the industry was facing harsh criticism that the relationship between consultants and clients was becoming more transactional and less impact driven, Juan dared to establish a bold business plan. He created an offering where he promised clients a 4x ROI in 100 days and made his fees contingent on this.

At a time when the economy continued to struggle and the “appetite for bringing in consultants was very low,” Juan’s guarantee stood out and provided him with the opportunity to work with CEOs from various Fortune 500 companies around the country.  Many of Ascent-Advisor’s clients faced the same challenges – they had experienced double digit growth for several years, until the recession hit. From here, their growth was stagnant at best and not sustainable.

It was with his first client, a mid-market technology company that was experiencing stagnant growth due to the recession that Riboldi and his team put years of innovation and change management into practice through Ascent-Advisor. Juan and his team gave themselves 100 days to make a substantial impact on its client. They started by identifying the company’s vision and value proposition. This was followed by an ‘envisioning event’ where teams built stories to pitch the company and it’s employees. The goal of this exercise was to unite employees behind one vision. From there, they defined 10-12 strategic initiatives to make that vision a reality.

Your typical consultancy concludes their project at this juncture, but Riboldi believes that this is a critical juncture in making sure that the initiatives are implemented so that change can become a reality and ultimately create sustainable growth. To achieve this growth, Riboldi creates ‘Tiger Teams’.

Tiger Teams are a unique part of Ascent-Advisor’s process. “We created the concept of Tiger Teams – to champion initiatives that would promote growth” said Riboldi. “We met weekly with these champions to help them gain traction and scope on their strategic initiatives. Within 6 months, most were well on their way, done, or moving forward.”

Additionally, Riboldi held weekly, standing meetings to report progress against performance measures. “Everything not meeting goals was subject to debate…” said Riboldi, “(it was a) scrum fashion: cheering, booing, problem solving…not a politically correct meeting.”

This strategy enabled the company to have its best performing year in history. Additionally, many of the champions selected for Tiger Teams at this manufacturing company were line workers: including supervisors, engineers, and machine operators, some with only a high school education. By participating in these initiatives, many were awarded leadership responsibilities, and some were even promoted.

After the success of this engagement, Riboldi codified this model and has used it as the back bone of Ascent-Advisor’s process.

When asked about qualities he looks for in his team, Riboldi said that in addition to having a track record of success, he employs people who “operate at a very high level of personal and professional integrity” and are “innately driven to make a difference, have a passion for seeing the client succeed.” Furthermore, he looks for “consultants [who are] able to take risks to bring change, put themselves on the line for the sake of being a catalyst to make things happen.”

As for Ascent-Advisor’s future, Riboldi shared that at first he was focused on hiring more consultants, growing more revenue, and gaining more clients. “But now, the focus is less about revenue growth, and more about the quality of those projects” he said. “We are more focused on working with the very best companies where we can deliver the best outcomes.” He continues: “we are more discerning about the clients we take…if the organization is serious about making change, we are more engaged. But if they are caught in politics, bureaucracy, and this is only a ‘pretend change’ we are not the right partner for them.”

Riboldi’s business philosophy demonstrates that growth doesn’t only come from the top of the organization; when you enable employees at all levels to collaborate and innovate, you create long-term growth opportunities for both the company and its employees.

To learn more about Ascent-Advisor and Juan Riboldi, view his thought-leadership articles here.

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