The story of David and Goliath inspires our strategy and company ethos. It is the story of how Goliath, the largest and greatest warrior of the ancient Philistines was killed by David in one-on-one combat. David was a simple shepherd boy who fired a single stone with a slingshot. Goliath was slow and weighed down by heavy armor; David is brandishing a deadly weapon that he can use from a far distance and because he has no armor is light and mobile. The odds often favor the underdog because they are forced to use unconventional methods and because they are willing to outhustle the leader and do things their opponents are not willing to do.
What advantages does SmithStreet have? We are small and mobile; we built this company in China for our clients to succeed in China; and we have grown up in a world where the internet has changed the way that information is collected and disseminated. The giants of the consulting industry have built up huge stores of intellectual capital. But intellectual capital in China depreciates quickly. Old ideas may equate to heavy armor.
Clay Christensen, of the Innovator’s Dilemma, argues that the consulting industry is in the process of disruption because big consulting firms are chasing big clients with big problems, whilst ignoring smaller projects that is taken on by smaller firms, who develop techniques in these less profitable areas that they later use to compete on bigger projects.
We don’t have a fancy office or business cards that have a brand name big company that your uncle has heard of. But what we do have is heart and a goal to do something that seems impossible.
And if you join, bring some stones.