Stone Soup: 15 years in...
September 19th 2023
By Cláudia Pedra, Stone Soup Managing Partner
“Wanderer, your footsteps are the road,
and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.”
15 years of strategic consultancy, spread all over the world, means a plethora of projects, a lifetime of stories, and a constant drive towards systemic impact and ethics. This is a journey of learning that has a beginning but still no ending. We are following the road and discovering where it will take us.
Once upon a time there were a group of people with a vision for a company that could work all over the world generating positive impact in different geographies and contexts. The impact would be generated through strategic consultancy, with a model in which entrepreneurs and organisations would partner with the consultants that would act as facilitators for change. The ecosystem would become stronger, more developed and everyone would benefit from that development. And… And, fortunately, this is not the time to say “the end”.
Over the years we faced several challenges: building a track record and a reputation we could be proud of, diving through ethical dilemmas and challenges, and keeping together, motivated, and highly professional, a group of people which in many cases can hardly meet in person. We consider this endeavour has been successful. With a community of nearly 80 people working remotely from Australia, to Kenya, to Portugal, to Colombia, we have people from their twenties to their sixties, with different cultural backgrounds. Over the years, 150+ more have crossed their journey with ours. We have actively promoted the benefits of diversity and inclusion, which we know so well ourselves, in all the ecosystems we operate.
15 years in, Stone Soup Consulting continues its mission, now in over 60 countries spread all over the world. In this journey, over 200 entrepreneurs and organisations joined us, developing projects, programmes, businesses, and organisations. The vast majority of them report which helps us realise our own Theory of Change and gives a sense of purpose to our community. Maybe the ultimate goal of all consultants in Stone Soup: to use their best skills and advice to create change that benefits a vast number of people, from all walks of life.
So we have given advice, but especially we have had the opportunity to learn so much that it seems that it is a lifetime of change, bottled in our teenage organisation. Maybe that is why knowledge management is such a challenge.
Focus on long-term systemic impact
In a fast-changing world, when many are focussed on very short-term results, it is not always easy to sell long-term change, especially change that needs a high investment and many resources, whose benefits will be reaped only in 20 or 30 years. This includes working with all types of stakeholders, so solutions are sustainable and adjusted to the complexity they aim to solve or at least improve. It entails also promoting collective action for systems change (the subject matter of our Stone Soup Award 2023, something that we have had the honour of working on as consultants. In Stone Soup we have decided to focus on exactly that. Because in our own Theory of Change this is so crystal clear, we have been working as much as possible towards systemic change, trying to build models, ecosystems and capacity building that will bring about long-term systems change, scaling impact to different parts of the world. Just like Machado says in his poem, we’re walking the road towards meaningful change.
We know we will face many new challenges in the 15 years to come, and that is why we are learning by doing, by researching, by sharing good practices. Our next focus will be on ethical consultancy, to contribute to a virtuous ecosystem and continue our impactful journey. Wandering through the world with a focus on positive and systemic impact.