Proud of the consultancy profession

By Sybren Bosch,
on 24 June 2022

Averse to advice is one of the first blogs by our colleague Cécile, published shortly after Copper8 was founded. At Copper8, we are a consultancy, but we call ourselves this for lack of a better word. You see, the word consultant – adviseur in Dutch leaves a bad aftertaste for many people: it gives them the impression of a professional group that talks about problems in order to then solve them, with the aim of running their own ‘billable hours factory’ to the max, and ultimately, making a profit for the partners.


The role of consultancies

In an increasingly privatized world, the role of consultancies is growing. I see two shifts happening. Firstly, there is a shift towards more specialist analysis: because we can calculate and know more, we also want to know more. Secondly, there’s a move towards more project management, in which consultancy firms are, in fact, a flexible shell for large organizations. The UK government is an illustration of this: during the COVID crisis, it hired multi-billion-pound consultancies to organize the UK’s testing and vaccination capacity.

What I think is missing here is the core of what the consultancy profession is all about: advising. Analyzing a situation, mapping out the dynamics and then indicating what should happen. I think we’re in dire need of this in a dynamic world, one that is changing rapidly and in which sustainability challenges are increasing every day.


Consultancies as knowledge carriers

Several historians argue that “With knowledge comes responsibility.” Indeed, we believe that our knowledge of the state of the world – and the solutions we have – gives us responsibility. On one hand, we share knowledge that we have, unconditionally. This means that we almost always say ‘yes’ to requests for interviews, presentations and explanations – provided we feel they have sufficient impact and effect, of course, since we use impact as the basis for choosing what we spend our time on.

On the other hand, we contribute to sector-wide initiatives with our knowledge. For example, our colleague Cécile is a member of the Circular Construction Economy Transition Team, our colleague Noor is a member of the Cirkelstad Supervisory Board, and I chaired Platform CB’23’s Circular Procurement Action Team for a year. I think it’s great that in our small organization we can create the time to contribute to initiatives like these.


My new role

I am therefore proud to have become a co-owner of Copper8 on 1 January 2022. I said ‘yes’ because I believe in the importance of consultancies in working towards sustainability. It’s consultancies that know what needs to be done differently, and how we could do things differently. Fortunately, we’re not the only ones (anymore): an increasing number of consultancies are emerging with a strong purpose.

This may be a new role, but it has the same agenda, and I look forward to continuing to contribute to the major challenges we will face in the years to come. There’s an abundance of knowledge about how we can shape our world differently, and in the coming years, the focus will be on applying that knowledge.

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