Charlie Baum, Principal

Charlie Baum is the founder of Starting Point, a consulting practice that helps organizations use immediate performance successes to build momentum and capability for larger-scale performance improvement and strategic change.

Starting Point's core expertise is helping clients realize significant successes early on in their performance improvement and change initiatives - hence its name. This is in contrast to other approaches that often conclude with many months of study, analysis, training, and awareness building but no meaningful results. The hallmark of our approach is an intense focus on articulating and accomplishing substantial performance results, with little wasted time on non-essential activity.

Mr. Baum worked for six years with Schaffer Consulting, the firm that founded the Rapid Results approach for managing performance-driven change described in the Harvard Business Review classic "Successful Change Programs Begin with Results."

He then spent four years as a general manager in a construction firm, where he helped transform a chronically troubled inner-city division into a high-performing organization. This experience is described in the business best-seller The Wisdom of Teams by Jon Katzenbach and Doug Smith.

From 1991 through 1996, Mr. Baum's principal client was McKinsey & Company. Through this association the Rapid Results approach was introduced to more than 50 clients involving thousands of people -- and yielded in excess of one billion dollars of performance improvement as well as substantial quality and service improvements. During this time he personally facilitated more than 300 teams to help McKinsey consultants and clients begin their change initiatives. This involvement, along with a description of his work with Dun & Bradstreet, is discussed in Taking Charge of Change by Doug Smith, High Impact Consulting by Robert Schaffer, and Masterful Coaching by Robert Hargrove.

Mr. Baum also participated in Vice President Gore's National Performance Review. In particular, he helped the Occupational Safety and Health Administration achieve immediate performance results to kick-start and lend credibility to its nation-wide reinvention process. Two OSHA teams facilitated by Mr. Baum were recognized with Hammer Awards awarded by the Vice President, and are included in Vice President Gore's book The Best Kept Secret in Washington. The teams' efforts led to a 75% reduction nationwide in the time for employers to fix safety hazards identified by their employees.

From 1997 through 1999, Mr. Baum served as the chief operating officer of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, a department responsible for managing 5 million acres of land, regulating forest practices, and fighting wildfire. In this capacity he emphasized a business perspective that helped the department respond to a major budget challenge induced by the Asian economic downturn without laying off staff - while sustaining a shift to ecosystem management.

Mr. Baum's current clients include CalPERS' Investment Office, NeighborWorks America (a national housing intermediary), Columbia University, Chicanos por la Causa, and approximately 25 executive coaching clients (including executives at the New York Times, Associated Press, and ESPN). He previously has consulted to many clients in numerous sectors, including many Fortune 100 companies, government agencies, and non-profits.

Mr. Baum holds a B.A. in Economics and Psychology from Harvard University and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He has served as a faculty member of the New York City Leadership Institute, and as a governor-appointed member of the State of Washington's Information Services Board, which oversees the state's information technology investments. He serves as an executive coach and peer group facilitator to executive participants in "Achieving Excellence," a collaboration between NeighborWorks America and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University for the affordable housing industry. He also is a coach in the Punch Sulzberger Executive Education Program at the Columbia University School of Journalism, assisting senior leaders of major media organizations to meet challenges and opportunities posed by online journalism.

Starting Point's network of professionals

Starting Point is a management consulting practice founded by Charles Baum in 1991 to provide performance improvement consultation, leadership development, strategic planning, and executive coaching services to clients in the for-profit, governmental, and non-profit sectors.

Starting Point's strategy is to work in a nationwide virtual network of highly talented individuals and firms - dedicated to a common philosophy of a focus on performance results, pragmatism, and experience. This allows Starting Point maximum flexibility in bringing the appropriate mix of talent to bear on any client's initiative.

In particular, Starting Point collaborates with Doug Smith (leading management author and former co-leader of McKinsey & Company's worldwide organization practice), Management Solutions (whose principal, Stan Biles, has extensive government, political, and change leadership experience), Winter Resources (whose principal, Cynthia Winter, has extensive experience in designing and facilitating results-driven leadership development programs), the District Management Council (who provides services to public school districts nationwide), and the coaching teams for Achieving Excellence in Community Development and The Sulzberger Program.

Starting Point is based in Portland, Oregon.