Reimagining Consulting for Web3 | Bankless Consulting
Oct 18, 2022
Every executive who has spent time in C-Suites and boardrooms has used consulting firms to help clarify a vision, manage a product launch, or streamline corporate operations. These consulting firms provide valuable services to their clients because they harness decades of domain expertise to diagnose the underlying problems of an organization and prescribe solutions.
But what happens when the field they’re consulting in is completely new? Where do the domain experts pull from when the domain is still being established?
The world has changed dramatically in the past decade, but consulting has barely budged in the last hundred years. Consulting methodologies and cultures have been handed down from one generation of suits to the next. They reward adherence to a certain corporate culture and degrees from the same MBA programs, which often results in a homogeneity of thought.
Legacy firms are trained to advise companies with a specific set of solutions built on the traditional structures of the past. When working with new paradigms such as blockchain technologies, they fall back on what has worked in previous decades, rather than adapting their strategy to a new culture and its inherent norms and values.
Legacy firms think in terms of audiences, while web3 moves at the speed of communities. Consultants get their knowledge from analyst reports and research firms, but most have never invested time actively participating in NFT communities or DAOs, nor have they experienced the constraints and tensions of working in a brand new model of organizational coordination.
They may understand the technology, but they have never implemented it. They talk about the future of work, but their frames of reference and organizational structures are firmly rooted in the past.
So how can legacy consulting firms effectively advise companies looking to incorporate web3 technologies and practices into their business if they are still working like background extras in Mad Men?
They can’t. That’s why we built Bankless Consulting from scratch, with a team that lives and breathes web3.
Bankless Consulting is an end-to-end advisory firm built by web3 natives with decades of traditional financial and management consulting experience. We combine an exceptionally talented team of technologists, strategists, community experts, DAO gurus, and token economists to help companies learn about and take advantage of all that the blockchain enables.
When we started imagining what a true web3-native consultancy might look like, the first question we had to ask was “is this even possible?” How can a group of strangers in a global, remote work setting compete with huge consulting firms with hundreds of thousands of employees, country club memberships, and … desks?
As it turns out, it’s not only possible — it’s inevitable.
Our Weaknesses Are Our Strengths
Starting a business is difficult under the best of circumstances, but we quickly learned that all the questions you thought you knew the answer to when you start a company – questions like “how do we pay people” and “how do we organize our global workforce” – have to be reimagined and rebuilt for web3. We encountered problems that you don’t have to think about in traditional companies like “how do we communicate with each other” and “what does management look like?”
When you get down to it, the thorniest problems in web3 are just amplified versions of what’s broken in the corporate world. They’ve just been broken for so long that we’ve learned to ignore them. Without boardrooms and recruiting campaigns to hide behind, we had no choice but to address them, one by one. The organizational challenges we solved while building Bankless Consulting now enable our best work, and we take these hard-earned lessons to our clients.
Solving these problems has been a challenge that we’ll be iterating on and perfecting for the foreseeable future. But the result is a web3-native consulting firm that is designed from the ground up to help businesses implement web3-focused solutions to their most pressing problems — whether that's new organizational structures that allow people to flourish, or web3 technology and partnerships that enable them to grow and expand their business.
We know how to solve these problems because we built these battle-tested solutions, not just for ourselves, but also for our clients.
Bankless Consulting 🏴 @banklessconsultAt the beginning of 2022, we set out to imagine how web3 could re-invent a stale consulting model. Two months later, the crypto market crashed. Do Kwon, 3AC, FTX .... What a time to start a business in web3! Here’s how we’ve been building through this bear market. 4:55 AM ∙ Nov 11, 202236Likes11Retweets
A Truly Global Team
We lease no offices, but we have consultants on six continents. Sometimes that makes it difficult to organize meetings, but it has forced us to learn to communicate more effectively outside of them.
Since we’re 100% virtual, we can work from anywhere. We’re not beholden to outside interests. We can choose what to work on, not what we have to work on. Valuing personal freedom and agency isn’t just an HR platitude, it’s the core of our business model — one that enables us to do transformative work.
From subject-matter expertise to cultural competence, our teams bring a variety of perspectives to every project. Because web3 is a global enterprise, Bankless Consulting is uniquely positioned to help clients formulate effective, relevant web3 strategies that generate immediate business impact.
Crypto Native, Diverse Experiences
Look at the resumes of any major consulting firm, and you’ll see a trend. An MBA is the price of admission to a job at one of the Big 4 firms.
We have plenty of those, but we also have teachers, doctors, entrepreneurs, writers, engineers, lawyers, and PhDs. Unsurprisingly, they all approach problems differently, and having access to a wide variety of lenses enables us to better analyze complex problems. Intellectual diversity is a strength.
Though we all come from different educational and career backgrounds, we are united by an immersion in crypto-native culture — having touched every aspect of web3, from finance to art to law. We can help traditional companies thrive in web3 because we've done it ourselves.
We Reward the Work
Nearly every consulting firm is built on the premise that the senior members of the organization must be highly paid to direct the company, while those underpaid employees who deliver the actual work are replaceable. The result is an extractive labor practice that creates profit at the expense of burnout and turnover.
We inverted the model, and developed a compensation stack in which client teams are paid directly from project fees, with the majority of the proceeds going to the project team. We don’t have the burden of paying for the trappings of a traditional consulting firm, enabling us to invest that money back into the people building our organization.
Built From the Ground Up
Bankless Consulting started as a group of strangers in a Discord channel with a vision that consulting could be different — better for both clients and those helping them. We had the support of a large community, but we had to hustle to close our first clients while we built a new business model from scratch. And we haven’t lost that hustle.
In the beginning, it was just a group of people who were passionate about the potential of web3 to change the world, and a belief in our ability to come up with creative business solutions using this new technology. With these values and this premise, we built a new way to bring value to both clients and contributors.
It Can Be Better
The consulting industry sometimes gets a bad rap for a lot of good reasons. The old joke is that a consultant is someone who borrows your watch to tell you the time, and often keeps the watch.
The Big Consulting business model is focused on maximizing capital extraction from their clients and labor extraction from their employees. The incentive models of web3 enable us to create with our clients, to share in their successes, and to contribute to sustained growth.
If crypto has proven anything, it’s that things that once seemed permanently entrenched are now open for disruption. Banks are no longer inevitable. The unchangeable can be changed.
We are entering a new era of entrepreneurship, where web3 lowers the barriers to funding, the barriers to creating a community, and the barriers to transforming industries. Builders with great ideas need help steering around the corners on the road to creating or expanding their existing business into web3, but they no longer need permission. They need help understanding the landscape and executing on their vision. This assistance is where Bankless Consulting excels.
We Know the Answer
So, after a year of reinventing consulting, can we compete with the big guys?
The answer is we don’t have to. Bankless Consulting is creating a new way of delivering professional services that works better.
We’ve built a consulting firm from first principles — one that’s focused on the needs of web3 organizations and contributors. We’re built by and for the community, and we are able to put purpose over profit by design.
We’re on our way to creating a new class of consultant that helps organizations be more adaptive and responsive to the ever-changing web3 ecosystem. We're building a new home for existing consultants who are more comfortable with ambiguity and complexity over predictable modeling, who are more interested in helping organizations find new ways of doing things rather than just making the old ways cheaper, and who are more than ready to leverage their web3 chops by working on specific projects that pique their interest, on their own terms.
Web3 will disrupt industries for the next decade and beyond. The winners of the blockchain revolution will be those meeting the challenges of reimagining human systems and business solutions face-to-face, not those peering into the room through a keyhole.
Ryan Anderson is a brand and marketing strategist and founding member of Bankless Consulting.