What do you need?

At Sokrates Partners, we combine the passion, dedication and responsiveness of independent business owners with the seamless integration, shared platform and shared values of a niche firm. We can bring in additional specialized capabilities and scale through our network of affiliated experts: for example, we utilize professional actors for some of our training programs, and industry experts for some of our consulting work. We are a lean organization with the ability to scale up flexibly and fast, as dictated by our client’s needs.

 

 

We help organizations design and execute transformation efforts, and we help teams and individual leaders adjust to change. Depending on the need, we plan and measure culture change, as well as culture preservation in times of change; and we support post-merger culture integration.

Our core beliefs on effective transformation include:

  • Fundamental transformation happens through changing the way the work itself is done or the project itself is executed. Separate “change projects” and “change work streams” have high failure rates.
  • Emotional appeals, such as story and specific example, are often more powerful tools of persuasion than rational argument alone.
  • Coping with external change effectively requires a different approach for those elements that can be controlled, and those that cannot. This simple truth is frequently ignored.

Our core beliefs on culture and culture change include:

  • Your culture determines how your people behave, more powerfully than any incentive or control system you can impose from the board room – because culture works through broad based, self reinforcing peer pressure
  • Culture eats strategy for breakfast – If an organization’s culture is misaligned with its strategic intent, the organization is unlikely to reach its goals. For example, the leading cause of M&A failure is incompatibility among cultures
  • Culture objectives, aligned with business strategy, can be defined explicitly; culture can be measured and adapted as intentionally and with as much rigor as any other important business lever.
  • Working from the strengths of a culture will always have greater positive impact than trying to fight its weaknesses.

Our work in the commercial arena spans the entire sales process, from determining a sales (or sales channel) strategy, to developing a sales support process, to front line skill building, to sales management and leadership effectiveness. We focus especially on complex sales: selling services or product solutions of high value and high relative cost to the customer organization. We address how to become a long-term trusted advisor and how to handle a complex buyer environment for a solution sale. Finally, we help to pinpoint ways to build pride in the behaviors that have the highest long-term impact for both the individual and the organization.

Some of our core beliefs on commercial success:

  • Serving your customer’s interest is always the best long term strategy; comments and behaviors that betray self interest can quickly erode the customer’s trust. But… genuinely and sincerely asking for help is a much-underutilized and effective technique.
  • Contrary to popular belief, good sales people are not primarily motivated by money. Whereas monetary incentives are very important and effective in driving sales (more so than in most other functions), the deepest motivation of your most valuable sales people lies in gaining the respect and satisfying the needs of their customers.
  • While a strong sales leader establishes stretching but realistic goals, a transformative leader will set “impossible” goals to inspire quantum leap improvements.

We help our clients build the capabilities that are critical to reaching their business objectives. We do that by consulting in the design, and facilitating the execution, of critical processes (such as strategic planning, portfolio management, organization development); and by designing and facilitating workshops in business-critical skills (such as leadership, management, problem solving, innovation, and decision making).

Our core beliefs on building strategic capabilities include:

  • Learning by doing through pure trial and error is an effective, but very time-consuming way to learn; on the job learning can be accelerated, e.g., through feedback and structured reflection.
  • The messenger is the message: capability building requires a “teacher” who is not just expert, but also credible. In many cases, practitioners from within the company are therefore better positioned to help employees build capabilities than professional trainers are.
  • People only learn what they think they can use: capability building must be directly linked to important business objectives (and related performance management objectives), and/or critical leadership role changes. “Nice to have” skills will be forgotten in a week.
  • Change the entire system: new capabilities can only be self sustaining if the environment embraces them. We have witnessed expensive investments in “training” go to waste when the surrounding corporate culture or structure is in conflict with the newly-acquired behaviors and skills.

We work with senior executive teams to improve their effectiveness and efficiency in pursuit of their business goals. Many top executive teams underutilize the collective power they have to impact the business, and instead spend much of their “team time” updating each other and seeking support for their individual leadership objectives.

Our core beliefs on team performance include:

  • Establishing a clear and compelling, shared team objective is the single most important thing to get right, and teams don’t spend nearly enough time on it. Most team performance problems result from competing agendas.
  • Team time together should mostly be spent solving problems that span across different team members’ interests, rather than reviewing individual leaders’ progress and needs.
  • Tension is good. Often, teams seek alignment too early. The value of combining executives with different skills, views, and positional interests into a team lies in the ability of such a team to make trade-offs and explore competing opinions and fact bases – as long as this happens in service of an agreed, higher level shared objective.
  • Relationships follow results. It’s useful for team members to get to know each other and build good working norms and respect early on, but strong, trusted relationships tend to result from doing good work together – not the other way around.