Lindsay McKenna Limited – Our story
I am frequently asked the question, so what gave you the idea for this business? Here is our story so far…
What gave you the idea for the Business?
It started in 1995, the same year my daughter Caitlin was born. My employer, a global corporate, gave me the opportunity of a life time; to focus on my passion, how businesses can develop the capability to deliver the changes they promise to make. I was challenged to deliver a common approach to portfolio and project management that Europe, Africa and the Middle East would commit to and stick to!
I assumed that such an approach must already exist. Wrong! A hunt revealed not a niche but a gaping canyon in the market. Researching endless suppliers and traipsing around project exhibitions, I found bureaucracy and ‘solutions’ focused on the people or the technical aspects of projects, but never both. So I changed roles from that of buyer of the services I sought, to that of the supplier.
So ensued four great years of development then deployment and living with the impact and results. Simultaneously Caitlin decided sleeping wasn’t her thing, so I used her waking night hours to write my first book on change, a book that my employer liked, invested in publishing and distributed worldwide. I was then tasked to extend the programme, offering the products and approach worldwide, across six divisions and given the choice of doing this as a global supplier or as an employed director - I chose the former. True to this employer’s reputation for being a great employer, this was formalised and the chairman gave me the rights to use the book I had written.
My ex-employer remains special and we continue to work closely with them as they expand, acquire and grow.
In 1999 I set up Lindsay McKenna Limited, becoming an independent global supplier to the company for whom I had originally created the approach (with their blessing) and started amassing a solid client base worldwide.
So how did you get your business into the market place?
Well the first answer was I didn’t – I decided to take the products I had developed to a whole new level and expand the product range to include a focus on high performing teamwork. So I spent two years investing in the right products for the general market before attracting new clients, which included writing two additional books, and developing common approaches to project-portfolio, project management and teamworking that truly fused the people and technical and faced into the realities and challenges facing people fulfilling these roles.
That was the start of two exciting years of being a one-client business with my previous employer, no income and investing every penny and waking hour in product development; until the first publication came off the production line. We were now ready for market!
Why the focus on conservation and animals?
There are two reasons, business and personal.
The business strategy was to be different, relevant and effective. And in our high performance team series, we needed to get delegates back to the fundamentals about belonging to and leading teams. Our “lessons from the wild” achieved both goals. In the African bush you don’t play team’s, it’s for real and can be the difference between life and death, even species survival! The striking video footage and analogies are a great way of relaying a stimulating learning experience. When we actually take our clients into the African bush, to a setting where these great teachers are roaming, it is a development experience never to be forgotten.
The personal reason is my passion for animals and a lifelong commitment to conservation. In fact our office is surrounded by both wild and domestic livestock, peacocks and squirrels watching us work all day through the windows, geese and ducks waddling around and Zack, the guard dog lying sprawled across the floor, expecting clients to walk round him. I am proud that all fees from our African based activities are invested in our non-profit making conservation company based in South Africa, Jackal Connect. The personal involvement in the projects we sponsor, we hope, will make some difference in keeping our teachers in the wild.
Where are we now?
Well it has now become our story not my story; our major landmarks between 1999-2006 include:
- 5 books with world-wide distribution
- Established the African Bush leadership and team experience.
- Progressed to a dedicated employed-team of highly experienced consultants
- Trademarked the Project-Change Frame® and Programme Change-Frame®
- Achieved Global Education provider status with PMI with all workshops accredited
- Established a worldwide client base which ranges from global corporate, olympic teams, government bodies and charities. Across all sectors and multiple cultures.
- Working in 28 countries across 5 continents
- Recognised key note speaker at conferences worldwide
- With advanced bookings scheduled through to December 2009
Integration of another business
In March 2005 we integrated Perception & Performance as a wholly owned subsidiary of Lindsay McKenna Limited.
Perception and Performance was created by Dr. Frank McKenna to develop psychometrically sound driver assessment and feedback tools to help fleet managers, police forces and 'Safer Roads' partnerships. The products and research insights are extensively used by police forces in the UK and provide drivers with an understanding of their personal Driver Risk Profile.
80% of businesses fail in the first 5 years, how has your business survived?
No magic involved, just the same as all new businesses, the preparedness to put in the grit, grunt and sweat that is required 7 days a week. But clearly a great start in 1999 with the solid foundations the company was built upon; the quality of the material, workshops and publications. A critical aspect is the people on the team. It was vital to the company’s success that the people joining us “had been there and done it”, with real depth and breadth in change and teamworking and passionate about it. This I believe is why we are still here and plan to be here for many more years. We are proud and delighted that over 50% of our new clients come from employees moving employer and taking us with them to experience it again.
What Are Your Future Plans?
Plans to grow for the sake of getting big do not excite us, so we will be challenging ourselves not to grow in size just because we can. We want to remain a team that is “human” and accessible to our clients, where the total client experience from the first contact is a pleasure, it never becomes, “just another client or contract”.
Having moved into mour new premises in January 2008, we are looking to develop them so that our clients have the choice of joining us on our own site - somewhere rural and surrounded by our animals.
We remain, as today, just as strongly intent on 'waking up and shaking up' the project management marketplace by replacing:
- bureaucracy with pragmatism
- rigidity with flexibility
- theory with hard realities
So that is our story so far…..