Gain an insight into our
consulting activities

We have been achieving results for our clients since 2001. The compact case studies below provide an initial impression of what we do; how we do it and the results we can achieve.

Business units restructuring to provide the ability to grow

Client challenge
Due to strong inorganic growth in the last 3 years a medium-sized, international industrial corporate group now has blurred boundaries between its business segments. The consequences of this are inefficient business units that overlap in the fields of production, distribution and service. Both management and staff demand a clear business unit structure and executable operative strategies for each.

 

EXECUTIVE's role and task 

  • Clarifying goals and results – using future expectations of shareholders and senior management as criteria for choice of strategy.
  • Joint elaboration of market and positioning the company in this market. Core question: What exactly defines our market and how should we structure it in terms of business goals?
  • Identifying past levers of success and evaluating these in relation to future needs
  • Generating transparency and a cross-management understanding of current market position from four perspectives: 1. market access, 2. growth, 3. portfolio, 4. cost-benefit strategy
  • Structuring and steering a process of information gathering and evaluation by the management team. Using this to lead an in-depth, thorough discussion.
  • Visualising a strategy options space that includes extremes so that all relevant alternatives are considered.
  • Elaborating spaces for business segment strategy options and establishing consistent overarching strategy options. Evaluating these according to company "fit" and market /profitability appeal. Choosing one option.
  • Planning implementation, allocating projects and accompanying execution via intensive coaching and programme guidance.

 

Results
A new internalised understanding of the market in relation to market structure led to five clearly defined business segments. Business segment strategies were then aligned and unified under the umbrella of one overarching strategy. The following years saw the company growing consistently. The execution of operative strategies for each business segment was so successful that conflict and misunderstandings at management level were kept to a minimum and cooperation throughout the company was greatly improved.

Business unit reorientation – from “red” to 15% EBIT

Client challenge
One of the world's biggest suppliers of customised, production-optimised concepts to the automotive industry took over a competitor. The integration of this new company into a specialised branch of the business that was only making 4% EBIT was seen as a chance to become technological and market leader in a very attractive niche market.
Despite the high value and the resilience of the technology in question, the strategy was not successfully implemented. The business segment turned in a loss of 10% over two years. It was necessary to make a clear decision about the future of the segment. The uncertainty that had taken hold at senior management level about whether to sell, invest or form an integrative synergy had to be addressed.

 

EXECUTIVE's role and task 

  • Developing detailed and attractive options for the alignment of this business segment. Elaborating a wide horizon of alternatives for senior management.
  • Generating alternatives based on customer, competition and resource consideration.
  • Developing various scenarios (competitors, industry structure and technology).
  • Using EIDOS®, tool-supported simulation checks of attractivity and robustness of the various strategy options.
  • The introduction of the change process was undertaken together with senior management and by skillfully including all those concerned.
  • A strategic decision was made on the basis of in-depth, thorough simulation techniques, and about which senior management felt secure and certain.
  • A high level of certainty was reached amongst all those concerned due to a transparent, sustainable and well-documented process.

 

Results
The EXECUTIVE method Smart Strategizing®; made complexity manageable. Clarity was established, including alternatives to the obvious courses of action. An alternative for future business focus was found that incorporated a high degree of decision-making certainty. To ensure profitability, the business segment was reduced to a purely technological one with the option of "having another oar in" at a later date. The deficits in the segment's marketing and distribution activities were not tackled but stopped altogether. After approx. 10 months the segment was reconstructed through professional investment when it became clear that the technology was competitive and reaching a high level of maturity. The structure that was then developed in the fields of marketing and distribution led, within 14 months, to this segment becoming the market leader of a niche market.

Mastering the art of strategy implementation

Client challenge
A business segment belonging to an internationally operating industrial corporation was to be strategically realigned according to customer needs. Our client had previously already developed their own strategy, including mission statement and execution plan. Despite the need for speedy action due to economic pressure, implementation and execution never took off. Individual business unit managers were not acting in concert. Strategy frustration was spreading and there was a danger of stagnation and losing competitive ground. Senior managers wanted to avoid this at all costs.

 

EXECUTIVE's role and task 

  • A robustness check was carried out to counteract the fear that the strategy was wrong or bad. This found the strategy to be reliable and attractive.
  • A systemantic middle management survey of people's understanding of the strategy and the actions that should follow on from it found that at this level there were many different interpretations. These ranged from complete incomprehension to concrete but completely different goal expectations.
  • It was therefore necessary to start at two different levels - the why and the how: Why this strategy, why not another one? How are we going to do it?
  • Using a well thought out communication mechanism all managers were confronted with a cause-and-effect model that not only presented possible consequences of different strategies, but also why the current strategy had been chosen. A broad and authentic understanding of the strategy was reached.
  • Naturally, different managers had different interpretations and drew differing consequences from the strategy. To counteract this, internal programme management was used to systematically collect, specify and synchronise the interpretations and differing consequences.
  • A specified structure was used to help managers strategically describe individual pieces of the puzzle and to elaborate these pieces into business segment concepts using a specified method.
  • The pieces of the puzzle were fitted together during individual sessions and collective synchronisation workshops. The outcome was a concrete, detailed and coherent overview that fitted the abstract version of the overall strategy perfectly.
  • The why-level questions were thus answered. Clear and relevant answers were found to the question of "Why are we striving for this alignment and what does this entail for each business unit?"
  • On the next level of questions, the how level, it was important to regulate and ensure the avenues, means and resources for the implementation of each business unit strategy. Senior management recognised that it was not possible to "just" implement the strategy in tandem with day-to-day business.
  • Using a specified structure, each unit manager presented how to overcome the "strategy gap" and how to move his unit from the current to the target state. This included specifying what was needed to achieve the goal and how this could be interlinked with the other segments.

 

Results
All in all, this process led to an implementation plan that everyone agreed on and that included the appropriate resources and means for the responsible unit managers. These managers now found themselves in the position of actually being able to implement the strategy and rely on a sense of solidarity between them. The result was as an efficient process to close the "strategy gap", strategy implementation and ensure long-term competitive advantages for the company.

Successful safeguarding of growth thanks to strategic reorientation

Client challenge
In order to continue being successful and to grow at a rate of 10% p.a. one of Europe's biggest webmasters needed to identify new, attractive business segments and to position itself in accordance with these.

 

EXECUTIVE's role and task 

  • By means of structured scenario work, 35 potential new business segments were identified with the directors of the company.
  • By developing mega-trend, industry and competition scenarios these business segments were examined according to their market attractivity and capacity. During this process the long list was whittled down to a short list of 14 segments.
  • Establishing future models based on product portfolio, added value and market access for these segments, enabled a list of 6 final candidates to be drawn up.
  • Using expertise and sourcing models, 3 business segments were identified that were found to be very attractive for the company.

 

Results
Three new business segments were launched. Each segment had its own segment strategy with a clear business case and a concrete and detailed implementation and market access strategy covering a two-year period. The business segments were launched with a total investment volume of EUR 23 million and reached an average EBIT performance of 28% after only two years. As potential new star business segments they also provided security for the future of the entire company.

Increased productivity (approx. 25%) thanks to greater process intelligence

Client challenge
Due to organic and non-organic growth an unnecessarily high level of process complexity occurred at a leading group of international companies working in the field of Human Resources. This led to a decrease in profitability, even though overall growth figures were not yet affected.

It was necessary to improve the situation and boost the growth of the group by virtue of a boost to its M&A capacity. This was done by reducing unnecessary complexity and increasing process intelligence through optimised processes and maximisation of standardised, automated processes.
 

EXECUTIVE's role and task 

  • Devising a "question model" comprising core and key questions in order to ensure result orientation throughout.
  • The first step was to avoid a "wide-ranging" process analysis.
  • Instead, using various complexity tools, "32 quick wins" were identified that would have a noticeable effect without having to invest much time and effort.
  • This "thread" was drawn up and focused until the first results began to materialise.
  • Not until after this was a parallel thread set up to examine the potentially biggest levers for change. No detailed process analysis too place here, either. Using cause-and-effect networks, 12 optimisation strategies were chosen from a possible 200.
  • The necessary detailed analyses then took place looking at these 12 optimisation levers and the processes and systems that follow on from each.
  • During this process four of the twelve turned out to be not very attractive and were subsequently abandoned.
  • The other 8 levers were addressed: detailed process analyses, opimisation and systems automisation were launched.

 

Results
Having invested 0.6m EUR in consultancy, 2.3m EUR in detailed process revision and system implementation, and with a turnover of 0.6 billion EUR, profitability went up by 2%. Also, the business was able to integrate acquisitions in 30% of the time in comparison to the past.

Market penetration thanks to innovative market entry strategies

Client challenge
A leading German power company needed to clarify if, at what point and in what field it should engage in alternative forms of energy. The possible business segments needed to be investigated and potential market-access opportunities identified.

 

EXECUTIVE's role and task 

  • Establishing trends and scenarios for the following: creation of added value, industry structure, technology, competition.
  • Identification of consistent and possible developments from opposite ends of the spectrum.
  • Development of a strategic options portfolio from the company's point of view and from the point of view of scenarios.
  • Simulation and evaluation of various options. Assessment of market attractivity and of company fit i.e. how well does each option suit the company in terms of know-how, risk, culture, effort involved etc.
  • This led to a short list of 4 very specific target markets. Evaluating these markets for their value-added opportunities.
  • Using complexity tools, innovative, out-of-the-ordinary approaches were developed to ensure a skilful and successful market entry.
  • These approaches included cutting-edge partnership models as well as innovative product development and marketing concepts.

 

Results
Working together with our client we succeeded in turning a hitherto unknown quantity, the future, into something tangible and calculable. From a sheer endless number of possibilties we distilled a handful of attractive target markets and market entry strategies. Two of these were completely new, and the one that was deemed the best at the beginning, was not even on the short list any more. Not only were true insights gained, but the business was put on track in a way that, years later, was still valid.

Increased competitiveness thanks to “rediscovered” customer orientation

Client challenge
Due to increasing competition and almost total market saturation, a leading insurance company and financial services provider needed to go on a "process cleansing diet". The company needed to refocus from the inside out i.e. on the customer. A crucial factor for success was increased customer loyalty and customer satisfaction.

 

EXECUTIVE's role and task 

  • Together with our client, five decisive factors across the company were filtered out from a large number and identified as important levers to increase customer satisfaction and customer loyalty.
  • All relevant processes from administration to core business segments were examined in relation to these five central factors. The result was that 28 processes were identified as either being decisive for success or a hindrance.
  • At the same it was necessary to analyse each process and find the 3-5 aspects that created the most work and how these related to the five factors.
  • On this basis it was possible to perform "process cleansing". Unnecessary work was identified and eliminated – earmarked as "not necessary" or "to be left".
  • Following this, the cause-and-effect web of these processes was analysed. This meant analysing the aspects that created the most work as well as the levers relevant to customer perception and customer loyalty, and using the information to formulate 8 key measures.
  • These measures were than planned out and implemented through support and coaching for our client.

 

Results
After the first "phase of confusion", which lasted for approx. 3 months, employees felt the burden of work easing due to the "process cleansing diet" which brought initial success and a sense of achievement. Following this, 6 bigger measures could be launched. These were closely bound with important changes in roles and responsibilities as well as leadership and management style.
After first having caused a "dip", these measures took 16 months to clearly improve customer perception. The company's competitive position was strengthened and profitability increased.

Complexity reduction

Client challenge
The family owners and the management of a traditional family-run industrial company were under the impression that in many segments things were more complicated than necessary. This led to the perception that the company could be more efficient and innovative in certain fields. It was their wish to find out, if this was the case or not, and if so, in what way. In which cases was internal complexity too high i.e. higher than was necessary according to structures and processes inherent in the market and the business? And what was negatively affected by this?
 

EXECUTIVE's role and task 

  • Four workshops were held using workshop architecture to create an overview of the entire value-added chain of the company and draw up a drivers <-> effects list.
  • Answering the central question: Which symptoms are causing the perception that things are too complicated and unnecessary?
  • The interconnectivity of these factors was revealed and possible causes (drivers) were identified and worked in. Direct and indirect effects and drivers were thus completely integrated into this field of connectivity.
  • The evaluation of this interconnected field showed clearly that the most important negative effects of unnecessary complexity were located at the interface product development <-> distribution and in customer service.
  • Further workshops were carried out to deepen understanding of these issues by focusing on the insights already gained. Seven key levers were identified. One option was opened up for each lever and possible measures were added. Following this, an intelligent (consistent) mix of measures was established and planned.
  • Implementation was supported by EXECUTIVE by carrying out sparring and project management coaching.

 

Results
The important drivers of unnecessary complexity were identified and addressed with a mix of seven measures. Due to the preceding pragmatic connectivity workshops, which were carried out on the basis of subjective evaluations and opinions (avoiding time-consuming analysis), this process was wrapped up within 4 weeks. The measures were wrapped up 8 weeks later. Unnecessary complexity in all relevant core segments of the business was eliminated, enabling a focus on essentials.

Revolutionising market exploitation by means of an innovative product strategy

Client challenge
A service sector company underwent multiple mergers a few years ago. The product strategy of the original company was implicitly transferred to the new companies, but the history of these companies was never fully taken into account. Despite common guidelines and principles, product portfolios developed heterogeneously, so that cross-company product support failed due to differences in process and IT. Inefficient market access and inadequate use of synergies were the consequences of this.
 

EXECUTIVE's role and task 

  • In conjunction with the client we began by simplifying unnecessary complexities until we arrived at a clear, simple and understandable structuring of business units.
  • Part of this process involved eliminating preconceived notions like: "We do things differently, you can't do that here."
  • We arrived at a common, reliable understanding of company "boundaries" in relation to product strategy. The next step was to transform these boundaries into product strategy guidelines.
  • With our support, rules and guidelines were elaborated: roles, committees, responsibilities, processes. These enabled continuous and efficient means of assessing individual business segment product strategies in relation to company product strategy.
  • Relevant information and mechanisms were demonstrated in a "product strategy poster": What is regulated by the company? What is regulated differently by which business segment? How is cooperation regulated? Everything was simply and clearly illustrated in the poster.
  • In order to anchor these rules and guidelines in the day-to-day business of the company, coaching and sparring sessions took place.

 

Results
It took three months to formulate a coherent company product strategy and individual business segment strategies and then to have them confirmed and validated by everyone concerned. The effect of the poster was to create management clarity. After another 10 months the mechanisms were functioning smoothly. Everyone was familiar with the details of the poster and productive product management was taking place. Not only were synergies in product development as well as cross und upselling potential being deployed differently, but there were also a number of surprise developments. Product innovation and new market access ideas came to the fore and in the following two years important competitive advantages were gained.

Identifying company potential by means of a strategy assessment

Client challenge
An internationally successful assembly business wished to submit its growth strategy to a health check. The current strategy had been formulated during a period of strong growth and the company structure was organised according to this. A strategy assessment was to be carried out to evaluate the robustness of the strategy in view of future market developments and scenarios, and to sharpen business segment strategies.

 

EXECUTIVE's role and task 

  • Supervising and organising the collection and structuring of the necessary information (primary and secondary).
  • Preparing so-called strategy assessment structures.
  • Evaluating possible future developments of key influencing factors. This was done within the framework of moderated workshops on the basis of market studies and long-standing experience.
  • Conducting an impact analysis on the current strategy, including an evaluation of potential opportunities and risks.
  • Strategy potential was derived from this.

 

Results
The strategy assessment was carried out using tool-supported methodology (EIDOS®). It lead to a clear confirmation of the existing strategy. It also led to specifications concerning company branches in BRIC countries and provided management with two new attractive add-on business models. One of these was successfully implemented in the following three years.

Working backwards – Optimised order processing

Client challenge
Due to extraordinarily successfully sales, a rise in sales volume as well as a simultaneous reorganisation of the control system, order processing at an international industrial corporation was negatively affected. Processing time increased, supply deadlines were not met and process costs went up along the length of the supply chain. In order to sustain further growth without overworking employees, processes needed to be transparent, clearly structured and streamlined. Also, process costs needed to decrease.
 

EXECUTIVE's role and task 

  • Linking individual specific processes relating to order processing with a standardised procedure. This should guarantee flexibility, efficiency and quality during the whole process. A comprehensive, process-oriented approach was therefore put in place to optimise order processing. Demands and spheres of activity were taken into consideration and placed in a holistic context.
  • Transparency was established by a structured definition of the whole process. This formed the basis of effective and efficient order processing. It also included the creation of process structures and the introduction of process goals.
  • Definition of interfaces, of objects for transferral, and of responsibilities. Also at this point: recognising, taking into account and addressing potential for optimisation. Rectifying process disruptions and achieving improvements in process times, costs and quality.
  • Continuous and comprehensive optimisation of the whole process incorporating the remaining organisational adjustments. Creating the foundation of future process management. The remaining optimisation potential was sytematically implemented and processes were designed to be sustainable, effective, efficient and flexible.

 

Results
Order processing was systematically structured and inter-departmental processes were optimised. Process costs and order processing times were reduced, and supply deadlines were met. Process disruptions, that were the result of lack of transparency in responsibilities, were eliminated.

Turning “IT” into a business enabler

Client challenges
In order to achieve its growth targets, one of the big players in the manufacture of lorries wanted to remove brakes and blocks in IT. Insufficient standardisation and a heterogeneous architecture of systems as well as inconsistent IT process design, made growth and synergies that went beyond company and national borders difficult to impossible.

 

EXECUTIVE's role and tasks 

  • Development of a set of rules and guidelines in conjunction with the relevant IT regions (production locations and distribution regions). This would ensure long-term strategy development. IT governance had as its motto: standardisation, reduction of complexity and mastering growth.
  • Providing the appropriate governance method and support for the coordination of strategy development and the architectural framework.
  • Managing the roadmap and innovations that were developed together as well as evaluating the strategic portfolio.
  • Supporting central IT governance with the IT strategy geared to the business segments and with its implementation. This was carried out in the form of strategic measures within the framework of a well-anchored strategy rollout.
  • Stabilising governance concerns by setting up judiciously-staffed committees that ensure and regulate strategy development.

 

Results
IT governance is characterised by IT development that is consistent on a worldwide basis and that has identical processes to make it a flexible enabler of growth. In the space of three years this ensured growth, reduced complexity and created important synergies.

Increased productivity by means of a consistent project culture

Client challenges
Our client was the privatised logistics business of the Armed Forces. During the foundation of the company many projects were initiated whose coordination and implementation was to be carried out by a project office. This necessitated the establishment of a project office as part of the organisation and the introduction of project portfolio management. Additionally, the project managers were to receive continuous schooling and professional training.

 

EXECUTIVE's role and tasks 

  • Using established project management standards (PMI, PRINCE2) to set up the project office as location for central project coordination.
  • Establishing the project office as advisory authority on all methodological questions relating to project implementation.
  • Training existing project managers how to handle project management for the projects under administration in the project office. This included the evaluation of documents that were handed in (project requests, status reports), documentation of results, the assessment of project requests and suggestions of measures, as well as formulating recommendations.
  • Providing schooling in how to coordinate interconnected projects, how to plan, hold and evaluate negotiations, how to train project leaders and those responsible as well as how to systematically support project leaders in their project responsibilities (training on the job).
  • Implementing quality control measures. Determining what norms are to be used for project documentation and providing support to set up project risk management.

 

Results
Information about all planned or ongoing activities could be collated and processed in the central project office. This enabled quick reactions in problem cases and tasks that were doubled, which, in turn, led to an improvement in efficiency.
Consistent project management methodology and the establishment of a structured mode of operation ensured that there is now always a current overview of projects and their progress. It also enables quicker reactions if there is a problem with deadlines, resources or costs.

Quotes

„Strategy work is often neglected. When emergencies come up the usual reaction is to call in the consultants and implementation is then difficult. STRATEGY SCOUT changes the process – it becomes focused, effective and sustainable.“

Dr Michael Koppitz, Managing Director, Evonik Services GmbH
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