For the past two decades, The Trium Group has succeeded as a boutique management consulting firm with a unique offering – working with senior executive clients at some of the world’s largest and most influential companies.
With specializations in organizational transformation, strategic alignment, leadership and team effectiveness, and culture change, the San Francisco-based firm has worked with an impressive roster of corporations across a wide variety of industries including Activision, StubHub, DaVita, eBay, NetApp and VMWare, just to name a few. But the company has a bold mission that transcends its focus on helping clients achieve meaningful business results: Trium seeks to change the world by changing the way business leaders think.
“If you hold a point of view that business economics is the key driver of human activity on the planet, you see the opportunity.” Catherine Gray, partner at The Trium Group tells Ivy Exec. “We believe that corporations and the people that lead them have unlimited potential for good – and Trium’s work is about unlocking that potential.”
Gray joined Trium in 2012 – bringing with her an extensive career in consulting for a broad range of companies around business strategy, environmental sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and culture change.
“Ultimately, I wanted to take my skills and apply them to make a difference in the world,” Gray recalls. “One way to have a meaningful impact is by driving change in large organizations that have tremendous influence over every aspect of our lives. And real, lasting change comes from supporting organizational leaders in being more conscious, more self-aware, more humane, and more intentional. By addressing a leader’s underlying mindset and consciousness as part of the solution set for more “traditional” business issues of strategic alignment, operational health, and organizational culture, we have supported our clients in some truly groundbreaking results.”
Monica Chi is also a partner at The Trium Group. She’s been with the firm since 2005. Before joining Trium, she started her career in the change management field, and then later was a Special Assistant at the FBI in the wake of 9/11 and worked with the agency’s executive team to shape its new organizational strategy after the attacks.
“I got to be part of a team that was keenly aware that simply doing things as they had always been done would have devastating consequences. Some of the most vivid memories I still have from that experience are the genuine, strategic dialogues leaders engaged in to navigate that stressful period.” Chi recalls. “Similarly, at Trium I am privileged to work with amazing leaders who aspire to create lasting change by addressing issues at multiple levels: through how they are defining their business vision and strategy, through their leadership and team effectiveness impact, and through the mindsets, beliefs and behaviors that drive results in their organizations. In my experience, addressing issues across these levels – and in focused dialogue – leads to real innovation – and to the ability to move through challenges more productively. It is a truly effective form of consulting that is unique to our industry.”
Chi describes how this multi-dimensional focus, and increase in leader consciousness has led to great success at a major, global client.
“We have been working with senior executives at a huge conglomerate with multiple lines of business. The culture was competitive, however, and these executives never came together to discuss the business —yet it turns out they all shared many of the same fears and concerns.”
Chi’s team completed the necessary diagnostic groundwork and then led senior executives through a series of focused alignment dialogues around the tough issues they faced about the future – supporting them in building a sense of shared purpose and context. It then became much easier to see necessary changes to the company mission, vision, strategy and success metrics, to the way the company was being led at different levels, and to the type of cultural values needed for long-term success. Trium was able to help elevate the company’s mindset beyond its initial three-year plan to think about its mission in the world – and how to align the organization around that new sense of purpose and impact.
Trium’s drive toward creating a positive impact in the world through the worlds’ largest organizations and their leaders is reflected within the firm’s team culture.
“It’s a place for people to grow and mature as humans,” Gray says, “We hold each other to the same high standards that we hold our clients and their teams – and push each other to continue evolving.”
“We are highly collaborative and team-based. We take pride in developing a whole system view of our clients and look at multiple angles to form this picture together,” Chi says.
But Chi also points out that the Trium way of doing things can be a bit of a culture shock for some of the firm’s employees.
“It’s a big adjustment for some people…We need to have strong relationships with one another – and this requires some degree of self-awareness and consciousness. It’s about honing our team to work effectively together, learning what each person’s strengths are and building on that. I take a possibility-based view on teams and I have each person define and own those possibilities.”
As Trium grows, Gray says that working for the company requires a special commitment. “We are fierce about walking our talk.”
Gray also points out that recruiting the kind of specialized talent needed to power Trium can be a challenge.
“It’s hard to find people that embody all the different disciplines we need: business acumen meets psychology meets sophistication. People who understand organizational development, change management, team building and effectiveness.”
Chi agrees that it can sometimes be challenging to find the right mix, but says it is worth it to have cultivated such an impressive community of practitioners. She adds that anyone who walks through the door can see “how genuine, warm, smart, and seasoned a group we have who all understand how the world works, want to learn more, grow more, and be pushed to reach their potential.”