The Creative Consulting Company

27 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2018

See all articles by Robert S. Kaplan

Robert S. Kaplan

Harvard Business School

Richard L. Nolan

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

David Norton

The Balanced Scorecard

Date Written: July 2, 2018


During the past 50 years, several consulting companies introduced important new ideas that extended management theory and improved management practice. This paper draws upon public sources and the authors’ personal experiences to describe how three management consulting companies created and sustained several big management ideas. The consulting organizations identified companies that had introduced an innovation to address a practice gap or anomaly. It then described the innovation in articles, cases, and public conferences, and proceeded to help a new set of companies implement the management innovation, which led to enhancements in the original innovation that made it more understandable, generalizable, and robust. The consulting leaders sustained their thought-leadership positions by creating an ecosystem with senior executives at pioneer corporations and academic/thought leaders. The paper also describes how other consulting companies did not sustain an initial thought-leadership position because of a failure to recognize the synergistic interplay between knowledge application and knowledge creation.

Suggested Citation

Kaplan, Robert S. and Nolan, Richard L. and Norton, David, The Creative Consulting Company (July 2, 2018). Harvard Business School Accounting & Management Unit Working Paper No. 19-001, Available at SSRN: or

Robert S. Kaplan (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Soldiers Field
Accounting & Control
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6150 (Phone)
617-496-7363 (Fax)

Richard L. Nolan

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

David Norton

The Balanced Scorecard ( email )

Do you have negative results from your research you’d like to share?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics