Bain & Company
Orit Gadiesh, a remarkable woman from Israel and a Harvard Business School Baker Scholar, leads Bain. For some interesting comments about her arrival at Harvard with limited English and proceeding from there, cf. the subpage "Orit Gadiesh."
Bain & Company Germany, Inc.
Tel: +49 89 51 23 0
Fax: +49 89 51 23 11 13
The managing partner of Bain in Munich is Rolf-Magnus Weddigen, an INSEAD MBA. His executive assistant is below, and presumably his direct Bain E-mail uses the same format:
Tel: +49 89 51 23 15 51
The most important criterion for selecting an executive coach is not the coaching firm, but the indivdual coach. This criterion appears obvious for coaching, but is often overlooked in management consulting engagements. Anyone who has made partner at a world-class management consultancy (Bain, BCG, McKinsey & Company, Monitor, etc.) has demonstrated intellectual rigour, a tremendous work ethic, and superior team and leadership skills. That partner is also busy, faced with multiple, demanding commitments. Even if leading only your engagement, there are still all those pesky internal demands from the management consultancy. The more senior the partner, the greater are the distractions.
Therefore the "right" partner from firms such as those listed above will result in a better outcome than the over-committed, distracted partner from another firm, Bain included. That having been said, partners do not work in a vacuum. The style in which they work, i.e. their tools and techniques, the teams they put together, all reflect the firm at which they work. The Bain style appears the most attractive, above all when Bain agrees to work on a performance basis.
Performance remunerated engagements ("results based fees")
Bain refers to this possibility as "tied economics" or "aligned economics". Of course the fee is subject to negotation at any professional services firm. However Bain does more work on a results basis than the other management consultancies. One would think Bain would loudly trumpet this USP (unusual selling proposition) on the very first page of its web site.
Surprisingly, one has to know what to look for, as "tied economics" is buried in the website at Join Bain. In fact if you enter "tied economics" to the German website, www.bain.de, you get 0 hits. You do get 14 hits with the term on the main site (in English), www.Bain.com. But the references are for articles, not for the engagement procedure. An excerpt about the procedure follows:
QUOTE: Producing business results can be even more satisfying when you share in the client's rewards. Bain does just that in our "tied-economics" engagements, aligning our financial incentives with those of our client.
Tied economics can take several forms. Sometimes we take equity in lieu of consulting fees. Other times, we make some fees contingent on helping the client hit certain predetermined performance benchmarks. . .
We prosper only if the client prospers. . .
• Nearly 40 percent of Bain revenues come from clients with aligned economics. END QUOTE
A positive outcome for a major consulting engagement can mean millions, even hundreds of millions, to the bottom line. With that much at stake, one can hardly over-prepare for the initial discussions with the consultancy of choice.
At Testimony under "losses" the first and third Bridges failures are due to a lack of preparation. The third failure, "Applications, 1980s - 2009, the 30 year error" includes a story about Bain.
I had previously received an offer from McKinsey & Company, which I had turned down to be a line manager in the Middle East (bad decision). Later I half-heartedly made contact with McKinsey again - instant interview. However my real interest was Bain, both because of its business model and because of its then relatively new offices in Germany. I prepared a "maximum effort" application, complete with white paper (in German, of course). The work was far, far better than anything McKinsey ever saw from me. The prompt reply to my masterpiece was unforgettable:
“Dear Mr. Hamilton,
Bain has very high employment standards. We do not consider people with academic or professional backgrounds like yours.
Preparation alone does not produce results. It has to be the right kind. At McKinsey, I had used networking; at Bain I had not. Before spending millions on a consulting engagement, regardless of the billing, take the trouble to do the right preparation.
Bain is a global consulting firm with 41 offices in 27 countries and 4,800 employees, including almost 500 in its German language offices (Munich, Frankfort, Zürich) (2010). To obtain the maximum benefit from a large scale, team staffed consulting engagement, the client company should also understand the business drivers of the consultancy. Yet many such engagements are initiated purely on a referral basis. Fortune 500 company executives sometimes know surprisingly little about the internal workings of the consultancy chosen -- which tends to know a great deal about the internal workings of the Fortune 500 company.
"Research" does not mean casually surfing the Bain web sites. One may begin with secondary research, starting with the four publications cited below. One could then proceed to primary research, talking to selected individuals (e.g. other CEOs who were clients of Bain).
1) Fascinating is the article that appeared in Fortune magazine, April, 1987, written by Nancy J. Perry and Susan Caminiti. The long, catchy headline is pejorative, presumably because of the newspaper theory that bad news sells better than good. The article itself appears fair. Bain is not painted black, or made out to be a paragon of virtue either. What stands out is the competency of the firm. The headline is:
A CONSULTING FIRM TOO HOT TO HANDLE? Bain & Co. gets its hands "deep in the trousers of client companies," says an executive who knows it well. Maybe too deep, the Guiness scandal suggests.
2) Marketing at Bain & Company, Robert Pedero, Stanford Business School Case, 1997
is about the development of a marketing communication strategy for the firm. This strategy represented quite a change from the firm´s origins, as the case states (p.11):
QUOTE: Historically, Bain was fortunate enough to be able to ignore marketing. Bill Bain´s philosophy was that if everyone did excellent work, clients would beat a path to the company´s door. . .
The company´s initial refusal to use business cards (a practice continued for more than 5 years) and strict policy forbidding interaction with the press enhanced this image (of secrecy). The "results not reports" tact left Bain with no weighty documents to tout. The "one client per industry" policy, plus the customized and proprietrary nature of each case, left no reason for Bain to publicize its work. Advertising as well as brochures were anathema. END QUOTE
3) Tom Tierney at Bain (A), (B) and (C), Ashish Nanda, Perry L. Fagan, Harvard Business School Case, first published 1999, revised 2004. The link is where one may purchase the series for a modest fee from Harvard Business School, either hard copies or as pdf files. The main case is 17 pages, the supplements are three pages each. The Bain managing director Tom Tierney wants to rotate two partners as heads of a Bain office. The case gives insight into Bain governance.
4) There is also a brief but informative treatment of Bain in the English language version of Wikipedia.