Barnes Management Group (BMG) has a unique way of doing business. But the BMG vision didn’t just happen. In fact, it’s supported by a collaborative approach that began taking shape when David Barnes, founder, started as a social worker with a career that spanned 25 years working in child welfare. “I worked with organizations that needed to support child welfare, and I always started with one question: How can I make the lives of children – and their families – better?”
Throughout the years, David realized that he was most effective when he was able to bring people together, connecting the families with services to find out how to best support them. “I realized very early on that no one has all the answers, and I started to think, ‘We need to bring people together to get the families the best services possible’,” he says. In 1998, when David moved on to Homes First, a Toronto agency, providing affordable, permanent housing and transitional support for the homeless or those who have few options, he realized that people working with such a commitment and passion to helping other people could make a big difference – together.
Like-hearted people, people who share the same values, people who are able to work collaboratively in a structure that values everyone’s expertise – that’s the cornerstone of BMG. “I wanted people who share these values and can work together,” says David. “I didn’t have a clear business model because I wanted to see where all of this could take us.” So the business model is evolving, with BMG as the catalyst, bringing organizations together to build partnerships and find innovative ways to improve outcomes and find efficiencies. In addition, BMG puts the emphasis on relationships to work with organizations to find solutions that work for them. And for David, what has emerged is the realization that the social sectors need something different from a traditional consulting firm approach.
“The BMG philosophy is to work collaboratively and build sustainably to help organizations reach their potential by attracting the right people to serve them at a particular point in time. What started out as a career in social work, focusing on problems, trying to understand how to solve them by bringing people and resources together in a way that was respectful to everyone in the process has been parlayed into a consultancy that helps organizations flourish. “I realized that we need to hone in on the problem with the client and then bring in the right resources to help them, not the other way around,” he says.
BMG is now expanding our influences with people who believe in this philosophy, the diversity and the values of the firm. “We feel that we bring something different to the table: the expertise and the commitment to work in partnership with one another and our clients, married with a commitment to the greater good. We listen, we partner, we collaborate to explore new ways of framing situations and new ways of doing things,” says David.
It’s not about one model that fits all; it’s about coming together to support and fuel development, innovation and sustainability. At BMG, a core team supports the organization, but the strength is the partners that the organization attracts. Collaboration is a term that is used often, but not always understood. “When we start to think about why this will be successful, we are continually drawn to the feeling of collective impact and societal contribution; we are much more able to effect change if we do it together,” says David.
The potential of this model rests on two things: the people it attracts to work together and the organizations who see the value of this kind of customized expertise. “We imagine ourselves as a think tank, discussing different strategies and working through ideas, so we can be the catalyst for each other and for organizations to think about what service delivery and the organizations themselves will look like in the future,” adds David
How? Very active collaboration on an ongoing basis, combined with quarterly and annual retreats and professional development for associates to come together, learning from each other’s experiences and thinking about how to best serve the clients. “We have the privilege of sharing our experience, so we are really transferring knowledge to each other,” says David. “We imagine that these associate forums will also include the clients we serve at times. By coming together with leaders in the field who want to enable change, we will strive to think through the challenges that present themselves.”
It’s simple: clients get the wealth of knowledge from whomever is most capable, says David. “We are committed to bringing the depth of experience that our associates represent, so that organizations can benefit in the greatest possible way – it’s not just one associate in a given firm,” says David. “We build around the needs of the client and the project and bring together the associates who are best suited to that project. We have no paid associates, so we are not limited to the people that we have on salary. That is key.”
And BMG believes strongly in transferring knowledge to the client, to make the organization stronger, to flourish. “We believe that when we engage in a project, we bring certain knowledge and support, but we also learn a lot from the client,” says David. “It’s a back-and-forth transfer of knowledge.”
Looking ahead, BMG has tremendous passion for the partnerships it has and the ones it is creating. In fact, the partnership it has with First Nations communities is particularly powerful. “I feel very strongly that we need to continue to build these connections,” says David. BMG wants to build on the collaborative approach, as a partnership, working together to find a way to break down some of the walls and barriers that serve to limit the potential of First Nations people.
“Our goal is for First Nations communities to flourish in a way that will enrich their lives and for us to learn from them because they have so much knowledge to offer,” says David. “At the same time, we can offer this community resources because of our partnerships with other organizations and with government agencies – and we will do it one step at a time, one project at a time.”
BMG represents a team of experienced independent consultants who choose to work in creative and collaborative environment with other like-minded professionals.
BMG provide leadership and structure to bring together diverse teams of experienced consultants from a wide variety of backgrounds. Our consultants are committed to the value of social responsibility and chose to grow their individual consulting practices in an environment that will respect their autonomy and one in which they benefit from the supports and synergies of working with the other individuals who share similar values and ideas.
BMG strives to create opportunities and growth by connecting with other like-minded consultants, businesses, and entrepreneurs to work collaboratively, sharing ideas and information.
BMG combine multidisciplinary expertise with creative thinking skills to conduct studies that:
In partnership with you, we can provide concept, design, and execution. This includes all business planning elements: research, analysis, options, recommendations, contract management, service planning, community engagement, and a financial framework plan.
Our service commitment is rooted in our belief that social, economic and environmental issues are interrelated, beginning with early childhood development strategies and youth engagement within strong, healthy, well-governed communities able to leverage opportunities. Our services include a full spectrum of strategies and tools that assist communities in planning for and delivering on measures to secure future success. We will work with communities to ensure that governance mechanisms, business and service needs reflect the values of the community. We have a passion for supporting community leadership to achieve their goals.