That practitioner experience (px) is the critical part of delivering fit-for-purpose and sustainable solutions to clients seems intuitively sound. As though a defence of the assertion would be an indulgent and superfluous exercise. Well, it is our 3rd birthday (thank you!). And so, we invite you to indulge us as we reflect on what it means to be a practitioner, and why now, perhaps more than ever, px matters.
What is a practitioner?
In the simplest sense, a practitioner is someone who applies a skill. Professional experience, understanding, skill and expertise accumulated over time is how the Centre for Evidenced-Based Management describes practitioners.
PX Partners was founded on two beliefs. Firstly, there are conflicts and shortcomings with the traditional models for providing professional services to clients. Secondly, clients are best served by practitioners who have real-life experience solving problems from the inside.
Why px matters
We believe that there is real value in using practitioners for support and advice, as we have a visceral understanding of the challenges faced by our clients. We have been there (literally!) and have the lived experience of running businesses and the commercial realities. And this has been confirmed time and time again in the feedback we receive from clients.
We know what it’s like to say ‘No’ to an overly zealous sales leader. We have been in the room with senior management applying real-time judgement on a transaction or issue and, importantly, had to live with the consequences.
We have had to enforce policies of conduct and compliance across firms, including with our ‘friends at work’.
We have experienced the feeling in the pit of our stomach when a regulator requests information on something we know could’ve been done better, had more time or resources been available.
And, most importantly, as risk and compliance leaders, we spent our careers role-modelling the right behaviours on ethics and conduct, so understand how important this is to the fabric of the place.
In our work with clients, we do not see the world through the narrow frame of shiny PowerPoint decks, billable hours, utilisation rates or hyper-competition with our peers to see who ends up on ‘partner track.’ To us, this is not success, aligned with our clients.
As practitioners, our experience has ingrained in us that success means achieving the right outcome for the firms we’ve worked in, and their customers. It’s not always easy, but it’s right.
And that difference in perspective is why px matters.
The case for the traditional model
Of course, there are reasons why a buyer may choose to use a Big 4 firm. We recognise some potential virtues and the case for using these firms, which tend to be well-resourced and can call on large numbers of people in various locations at short notice. At the core of any firm is its people and we have had the opportunity to work with some excellent consultants.
And while it may sound naïve to be saying it these days, the Big 4 firms have ‘brand power’— knowing that a large consultancy is associated with a project may offer executives and Boards an element of comfort and potential protection.
The missing ingredient is the px. Our analysis of the most recently published Big 4 Partner promotion lists shows that almost two-thirds (64.8%) 1 of these new partners have less than 5 years of px.
Bringing px to life
In our past experience as buyers of professional services, engaging practitioners has resulted in a superior client experience. Experienced practitioners pre-empt your needs and know when you’ll need that extra one-pager for the ExCo member that doesn’t read beyond 200 words.
Experienced practitioners hit the ground running and ask the right questions quickly, leading to a more efficient engagement that has the added benefit of sharing knowledge with and upskilling client teams.
Experienced practitioners focus on substance over flashy reports, ensuring that solutions are fit-for-purpose and sustainable.
Contact the PX Partners team to share your views, or to wish us a happy 3rd birthday.
Note 1: Based on publicly available career bios and corporate histories – thanks LinkedIn!