What Type of Work Does CFL Consulting Do, Who Are Our Clients, and Why Do They Choose Us?

Herman Miller team

CFL is a resource for all Hope students (regardless of major), complementing Hope’s academic program.  It is focused on educating students for life and work.  CFL’s mission is to help students discern and apply their gifts, classroom learning, values, and calling; prepare for work; and transition from college.  Thus CFL offers leadership courses and two co-curricular programs:  CFL Consulting and CFL Incubator, the former to help social and business enterprises and latter to help students launch their own ideas. (See www.hope.edu/leadership or the About page on the CFL blog for more information.)

CFL Consulting therefore has a dual role:

  • To develop the next generation of faithful leaders
  • To create and serve paying social and business enterprise clients well by helping them launch their ideas

Here then is how CFL Consulting serves clients and which clients it has had the honor to serve.

What Type of Work Does CFL Consulting Do?


Social Enterprise

CFL Consulting

Business Enterprise
Strategy Consulting
Problem and Solution Interviews Customer Discovery Problem and Solution Interviews
Customer (or Donor) Profiles; Minimum Viable Product and Sales Channel Interviews Customer Validation Customer Profiles;Minimum Viable Product and Sales Channel Interviews
Market Sizing; Segmenting-Targeting-Positioning Surveys and Marketing Strategy; Digital Marketing Assessment and Strategy (Digital Consulting) Customer Creation Market Sizing; Segmenting-Targeting-Positioning Surveys and Marketing Strategy
Human Resources Assessment (HR Consulting) Company Creation
Student Entrepreneur at CFL Incubator Customer Discovery and Validation Student Entrepreneur at CFL Incubator
Digital Consulting (Fund Raising, Grant Writing, and Sales Consulting) Customer Creation
Human Resources Consulting Company Creation




Who Are CFL Consulting Clients (Type of Work by Client)?


Social Enterprise CFL Consulting Business Enterprise
Strategy Consulting
Colossians Forum, Community Action House, Presbyterian Children’s Homes and Services, Texas Customer Discovery and Validation EPICENTER, Herman Miller (Health Care), Spectrum Health Innovations, Spin Dance, VandeBunte Eggs
Ditto, Kandu Customer Creation K & R Trucks, MHR, TechnoCoat
Hope Dining, Love, INC Southwest Allegan County, Songs Against Slavery Company Creation Ring Cam, The Rental Company, Tizzy
Student Entrepreneur at CFL Incubator Customer Discovery and Validation Student Entrepreneur at CFL Incubator
Ditto, Hope College Customer Creation
Company Creation


Why Do Clients Choose CFL Consulting?


More on Our Mission, Values, and Client Engagement Process



The Four Steps to the Epiphany


Questions from a Blogger about CFL Consulting

  • # of consultants — currently we have over 30 students on our CFL Consulting payroll.  (Clients pay us and we pay students.)
  • Growth of the program — that number (30) is more than double from last year.
  • Are you looking for consultants? — it’s always a balance.  We have students, project leader/coaches, and subject matter experts.  We are now looking for more clients.
  • How do this experiences help students (vs. classroom) – the experiences help students discern and apply their gifts, classroom learning, values, and calling; they also help students prepare for work and transition from college.
  • What you’ve learned from the program? — We can know things from books and lectures and writing papers, but actual experience trying to solve problems and think critically and strategically provides us with deeper understanding, especially about ourselves and the type of work we enjoy and are gifted at doing. And we learn even more deeply when accompanied by a coach (who helps us leverage our gifts) and a mentor (who helps us understand our values and priorities).  This gives us more authentic courage and confidence when we interview with employers, and it shows.
  • Future plans – keep improving quality of experience for both students and clients and quantity of students and clients served.
  • Anecdotes (student successes) – we need quality experiences to get quality internships and jobs, and we need quality jobs to get quality experiences.  CFL Consulting addresses that paradox.  Students tell us that when they interview for jobs, the employers don’t talk about their academic experiences as much as their consulting experiences.  Here’s an anecdote:
Lindsay Allward was talking to her father, Lance, immediately before her interview at Dow Chemical.  As she entered the interview room she said “Goodbye” to her father but forgot to turn off her cell phone.  So Lance heard the entire interview!  Here’s what he wrote:

“Thanks again for all your guidance with Lindsay…. I still can’t believe how progressive and effective your [CFL Consulting] program is. I think the program really prepares people like Lindsay to really WOW job interviewers, such as she did at Dow” – Lance Allward

CFL Consulting Mission, Values, Principles, Engagement Process


CFL is a resource for all Hope students (regardless of major), complementing Hope’s academic program.  It is focused on educating the student for life and work.  CFL’s mission is to help students discern and apply their gifts, values, and calling, prepare for work, and transition from college……. because we were created to work and do good works.  Thus, CFL Consulting focuses on co-creating work experiences that matter.

Core Values

  • Calling: Allowing the students to discover, develop, and deploy their gifts
  • Creating Leaders: Providing career-oriented projects and work-related experiences
  • Co-curricular: Offering relevant real-world learning experiences to supplement classroom learning
  • Coaching: Investing in the students through mentors with accumulated knowledge and experience
  • More on Experiences that Matter….

Guiding Principles

  • CFL Consulting projects are undertaken to achieve a dual goal of:
    • Accomplishing valuable, agreed upon deliverable(s) for our clients, and
    • Developing the critical thinking and real-world problem solving skills of the students.
  • CFL Consulting projects should involve students working on teams (at least two students working on a project), Project Leaders (as coaches and mentors), SMEs, and clients.  Our projects should ultimately involve solving significant problems/challenges and meeting needs.
  • Ideally, the student workload should move toward 60-80% of the project effort.
  • Ideally, students go from the “back seat to the front seat”, and the Project Leader goes from the “front seat to the back seat” as the project progresses.
  • Project Leaders are expected to lead by asking questions.
  • Projects should utilize the advice process.
    • Bringing in SMEs for feedback.
      • Advise for interviewing customers, suppliers, stakeholders, etc.
      • Involve those people most knowledgeable and affected by the situation.
    • Engaging other Project Leaders to share their experiences for related situations.
  • Projects may, on occasion, subcontract with SMEs to do work to ensure we do the best quality work, but that has to be balanced with our mission, which is creating future leaders among students.
  • Project Leaders will be continually coached and mentored.
    • By the sharing of policies with student consultants and new Project Leaders
  • Should Project Leaders be SME’s?   Generally not.  For that keeps Project Leaders more open to learning.
  • The ratio of student hours to Project Leader hours is in the vicinity of four to one.  We typically charge $12/hr for students, $60/hr for Project Leaders, and 25% for overhead. Our average hourly rate for projects is $20/hr.

Click here to view the Client Engagement Process

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Months and Years

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2013 1,098 943 992 486 3,519
2014 1,304 1,119 979 938 921 660 913 1,192 1,684 2,925 1,850 1,540 16,025
2015 1,851 2,790 2,148 668 7,457

Average per Day

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Overall
2013 50 30 33 16 31
2014 42 40 32 31 30 22 29 38 56 94 62 50 44
2015 60 100 69 48 72


Title Views
Home page / Archives More stats 4,198
About More stats 1,224
What I Learned About Entrepreneurship: Jordan Rose* More stats 604
CFL Consulting More stats 406
Top 20 Books (and Notes) For Entrepreneurial Leaders More stats 400
Becoming an Influential Leader (LDRS 291 Syllabus) More stats 399
The “Hope Does” Story. Because Love Does. More stats 388
“Unfiltered” Awarded a $2500 Grant More stats 382
Leading the Start-Up Process (LDRS 231 Syllabus) More stats 372
In Honor of Jim and Virgil More stats 345
CFL Incubator More stats 340
Unexpected Business More stats 321
Is The Tizzy Story Next? More stats 297
CFL Integrated Learning: The Leadership Minor, 2014-2015 More stats 273
And the Fall 2014 Idea Pitch Awardees Are… More stats 239
Coaching Threads: MOVE SLOW More stats 235
Best Quotes from “The Education of Millionaires” by Michael Ellsberg More stats 229
Dividends More stats 229
Fun and Inspiring Updates (CFL Incubator Students and Alums) More stats 224
Some of the Businesses Created by Hope College Students* More stats 217
CFL Incubator Pitch and Learn Competitions More stats 217
Hope Grows: 2014 Fall Investor Pitch Winners More stats 216
Entrepreneurs At Hope, Jan 2015 More stats 204

From Jim Collins’ Good to Great: Notes on Company-Building

What is an “Epiphany?”

  1. Noun
  2. A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi, traditionally observed on January 6.
  3. A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.
  4. A sudden insight or intuitive understanding.

The Four Steps to the Epiphany 

The Four Steps to the Epiphany

  • Customer Discovery: Problem and Solution Interviews;
  • Customer Validation: MVP Interview; Problem/Solution Fit
  • Customer Creation:  Funnel Matrix Metrics; Sales Channel Validation; Product/Market Fit
  • Company Building: Scale

Good to Great

Company-building According to Jim Collins’ Good to Great

  • Analogy: Flywheel vs. Doomloop
    • “No matter how dramatic the end result, the good-to-great transformations never happened in one fell swoop. There was no single defining action, no grand problem, no one killer innovation, not solitary lucky break, no miracle moment” (p. 186)
    • “Sustainable transformations follow a predictable pattern of buildup and breakthrough. Like pushing a giant, heavy flywheel, it takes a lot of effort to get the thing moving at all, but with persistent pushing in a consistent direction over a long period of time, the flywheel builds momentum, eventually hitting a point of breakthrough” (p. 186).
  • From Good to Great to Built to Last
    • Behavior
    • Values:
      • “Enduring great companies don’t exist merely to deliver returns to shareholders…” (p. 194) (Recall Max DePree’s line about profits are like breathing – we don’t live to breath)
      • “Indeed, the real question is not, ‘Why greatness?’ but ‘What work makes you feel compelled to try to create greatness?’ If you have to ask the question ‘Why should we try to make it great? Isn’t success enough?’ then you’re probably engaged in the wrong line of work.
      • (Remember Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle”)
  • Disciplined People
    • Level 5 Leadership
      • Is a paradoxical mix of personal humility (give others credit [window] for what when right and take the blame [mirror] for what went wrong – “bear pain” [Max DePree]) and professional will (results, diligence)
      • Is Servant Leadership?
    • First Who, Then What
      • “Who?” questions come before “what?” questions
      • Create sustainable succession vs a genius with a thousand helpers” (p. 47)
      • Get the right people “on the bus;” get the wrong people “off the bus”
      • Put best people on greatest opportunities, not problems
      • Don’t hire when in doubt.
      • Act when a people change is needed (but validate it is not just a matter of having someone in the wrong seat on the bus – leading people is inspiring them with a vision and example; managing people is like playing chess [Buckingham] in that each person is unique vs playing checkers which assumes each person is interchangeable).
      • Compensation doesn’t motivate the right behaviors from the wrong people
      • “Whether someone is the ‘right person’ has more to do with character traits and innate capabilities than specific knowledge, background, or skill” (p. 64); the right people are self-motivated
      • Do not rely on layoffs as strategy to meet numbers
  • Disciplined Thought
    • Confront the Brutal Facts
      • Create a culture in which the truth can be heard
        • Lead with questions
        • Encourage engagement/participation (LDRS 291!)
        • Review (“conduct autopsies”) without blame
      • Retain hope that no matter what your team will succeed
    • Hedgehog Concept
      • “Hedgehogs simplify a complex world into a single organizing idea, a basic principle or concept that unifies and guides everything (p. 91).
        • Understanding what the team can be best at the world at doing (vs. want to be best at) and what it cannot be best at the world at
        • Understanding what the team is most passionate about doing
        • Understanding what sustains the team economically – it’s economic engine
      • Defining the Hedgehog Concept is an iterative process
  • Disciplined Action
    • Culture of Discipline
      • “Bureaucratic cultures arise to compensate for incompetence and lack of discipline, which arise from having the wrong people on the bus in the first place. If you get the right people on the bus, and the wrong people off, you don’t need stultifying bureaucracy” (p. 142)
      • “The single most important form of discipline for sustained results is fanatical adherence to the Hedgehog Concept and the willingness to shun opportunities that fall outside the three circles” (p. 142)
      • Is there such a thing as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity?
    • Technology Accelerators
      • “Does the technology fit directly with your Hedgehog Concept?” (p. 162)
      • “Great companies respond with thoughtfulness and creativity…mediocre companies react and lurch about…(p. 162)

Service Intermediaries: Help Us Be Part of God’s Economy

Consulting AcademE #1 Jan 20 2015

To help students discern and apply their gifts, values, and calling, prepare for work, and transition from college, we and our students enjoy experiences that matter.  One of those is serving clients.

To put it another way, we enjoy helping students serve clients to learn, and in the process we all learn to better serve others.  Why?  If we do what we are uniquely wired to do, we will serve others.  That is part of God’s economy.

The root word of education means “to draw out” and the root word for school means “to contemplate.”  If education, like work, is a contemplative journey to draw out how God has uniquely wired us, there is no better complement to the classroom than experience in the field.

Want to help us be part of God’s economy?  Email vanderveen@hope.edu.

Herman Miller team