Profile of a Great Company: The Boston Consulting Group

Posted by Chuck Kocher
On June 26, 2012

You’d be hard-pressed to find a great company that was great right out of the chute. In spite of appearances to the contrary, there really are no “overnight successes”  because great companies are made, not born.

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) is a case in point. Who would have projected that a one-man company started by a former Bible salesman in 1963 (with initial monthly sales of a whopping $500) would grow into one of the most prestigious management consulting firms in the world, with 5,600 consultants, offices in 42 countries and annual revenues of $3.55 billion?

There’s more to BCG’s success than great revenues. BCG is also one of only three companies to land a top 15 spot in Fortune’s “Best Companies to Work For” report seven years running. And they’re not just squeaking in, either.  In 2011 and 2012, BCG was listed as the second best company to work for.

What makes BCG great? Part of the answer surely likes in the fact that they see themselves as more than just a consulting firm. That’s obvious from their mission statement: We seek to be agents of change, transforming both business and society.

BCG employees feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves—and even bigger than the business.

Their mission statement is undergirded by a set of clearly articulated and vigorously followed core values, including: Integrity, respect for the individual, delivering value, and making an impact on society.

Something you won’t find at BCG is an adherence to “best practices.” That may sound heretical until you understand that their goal is not to simply apply best practices, but to invent them to meet the specific needs of their clients.

They also don’t believe in one-size-fits-all, standard industry answers. Instead, they prefer to build custom solutions based on how their client’s organization works and on their unique position in the marketplace.

And that leads to another distinguishing characteristic. BCG is selective about the companies with whom they work. Their deepest client relationships have been with companies that transformed their respective industries.

BCG provides a pretty solid checklist for any company striving for greatness.

  • Does your mission statement make your employees feel like they are part of something bigger than themselves?
  • Would your employees call your business a great place to work?
  • Are your values (written or implied) in line with your mission?
  • Do you settle for “industry best” practices, or do you set the standard?
  • Do you work with clients that motivate you and push you to be better?

What steps can you take to move toward being a great company?