Interview with Iemke Imhof, manager of business operations at JBR and Gerrit Corbijn van Willenswaard, team leader at CIIO.
JBR is an independent consultancy firm that has been working for over 30 years on (inter)national assignments in the field of strategic issues, corporate finance and restructuring in a number of focus sectors. JBR has been ISO-9001 and ACP certified for some time. JBR found in CIIO a certifying body that can test both quality marks in one combined examination. Recently JBR renewed both quality certificates in this way.
Iemke Imhof is manager of business operations at the internationally operating consultancy JBR strategy, corporate finance and restructuring. The difference between change and transformation is what fascinates and occupies Iemke. She sees it as her task to create an environment in which the qualities of the people of JBR are shown to their best advantage.
Gerrit Corbijn van Willenswaard is involved in the development of quality and of organisations in various sectors. Based on this experience, he has been working as an external auditor since 1998, in addition to his consultancy work. He is one of the founders of CIIO and is a member of the Association of Organization Experts and Advisors (Ooa).
How did JBR get in touch with CIIO?
Iemke: "For us it started with the wish to synchronize and where possible combine the external audits for the ISO-9001 quality mark and for the ACP quality mark. This does not only have practical advantages, but it is also in line with our way of working where we not only do what we promise and have our processes in order, but also continuously work on our craftsmanship. Our motto is: "Tomorrow will be better than today. In our search for a certifying body with both expertise, we quickly came across CIIO. As far as we know, CIIO is currently the only certifying body in the Netherlands that is accredited for both marks.
Gerrit: 'I first spoke to Iemke and Ronald [van Rijn, managing partner, ed.] about this after a meeting of the ROA. When Iemke asked me what CIIO could do for JBR in this area, I advised her to first ask other consulting firms we work with about their experiences with CIIO.
Our motto is: tomorrow will be better than today'.
And, what do other consulting firms say about CIIO?
Iemke: 'I went to consult fellow directors of AEF and Rijnconsult. The people I spoke to there characterized CIIO as 'critical but proactive'. CIIO puts the emphasis on points where you can grow and improve, without the certificate immediately hanging over your head. That fits in well with the philosophy of JBR.'
Gerrit: "If our research shows that the basis is in order, then there is more room in the discussion to discuss opportunities for further improvement. If the basis is not in order, then the focus in the discussion is naturally more on meeting the minimum standard requirements of the certificate. What we noticed is that the people at JBR like to reflect on their profession and are willing to learn. They entered into a conversation with us without reservation and openly. Together you quickly get to the heart of the matter and what really matters.
If our research shows that the basics are in order, then there is more room in the conversation to address opportunities for further improvement.
How did the combined study go?
Iemke: "When we still had both studies [for ISO and ACP, ed.] carried out separately, we noticed a big difference between the 'ISO auditor' and the 'ACP auditor'. It is very special to experience how CIIO unites both approaches. CIIO not only tests whether we do what we promise our customers, but also looks at the competencies of our consultants and our learning capacity. We notice that the focus during the audit is therefore more on the future (what can we still improve?) than on the past (how did we do it?)'.
Gerrit: 'JBR advises on complex Merger & Acquisitions (M&A) processes for (international) family businesses. There is often more involved than 'getting the highest price'. This is not just a matter of following the right process steps, but requires a special form of craftsmanship. The (financial) advisor must be able to draw from several different sources in order to be a good discussion partner for the client. Having a combined conversation from both angles has more meaning for the interlocutor and is very valuable for the organization.
What insights did this combined audit provide?
Iemke: 'One of the outcomes of the audit was that we can get more out of our evaluations with the customer. This in itself was not a big surprise to us, as this had already emerged from an internal audit that we had carried out ourselves. We would very much like to work on this. The only question was: how are we going to do that in a way that works for us and for our customers? By discussing this with the auditors of CIIO we gained more insight into the underlying mechanisms and causes that made it difficult for us to get this off the ground. It was then not difficult to find a suitable solution to this problem.
The audit discussions also revealed that we could share more of the new knowledge we develop or acquire with each other and secure it in various ways so that it is not shared only within a limited circle or is not lost. Providing and/or following a training course is not always the most effective way of doing this.
Gerrit: 'In addition to taking note of the client's procedures and working methods, we are always curious about the underlying intentions and their application. Not just checking off that there is 'something' but also what it adds to the organisation. This often brings you much closer to insights that are essential and valuable to the customer.
'Consulting firms operating in the private sector often have the image that they are too quick to put commercial interests ahead of moral-ethical or social interests. What struck me in the interviews is that JBR does not conform to this stereotypical image. At JBR, acting with integrity plays an important role in advising their clients and is constantly checked in all kinds of ways.'
And how does JBR continue to work on its professionalization?
Iemke: 'JBR is firmly committed to further professionalization of the profession, of our office and of our individual consultants. Managing partner Ronald van Rijn contributes as chairman of the ROA. We are also recognized as a CMC firm. This means that we actively encourage and train our consultants to work according to CMC standards and to certify themselves individually for this purpose. If we judge that they meet these standards, we nominate them as CMC advisors.'
This interview was written by Henkjan de Jong.
He is an independent CMC certified organizational consultant and since 2013 auditor/team leader at CIIO.
CIIO is an independent certification body recognized by the Council of Accreditation. Accredited for ACP and ISO-9001. More information: www.ciio.nl
ROA is the Council for Organisational Consulting. Branch association that stands for a high-quality organisational consultancy sector in the Netherlands. More information: www.roa-advies.nl
ACP stands for Accredited Consulting Practice. A hallmark awarded to consulting firms that strive to ensure their employees meet the highest professional standards. More information: www.cmc-global.org
CMC stands for Certified Management Consultant. Experienced internal or external consultants who complete the individual certification process obtain the CMC designation. More information: www.cmc-global.org
CMC firms are ACP firms that want to further profile their professionalism and meet a number of additional quality characteristics. They nominate their own consultants as CMC. More information: www.cmc-global.org
Combi-assessment is an assessment in which an organisation is tested in one examination against the standard requirements of two or more quality marks. Combinations that occur frequently are ACP and ISO/Maatstaf (consultancy firms) or NRTO and ISO/Maatstaf (training and education firms).