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Strategy development

We often help organizations develop transitional strategies when planning
  • new companies
  • new lines of business
  • new products
  • new technologies
Strategic change can be difficult for many organizations, because big change doesn’t occur very often. Product development and product marketing staff may only go through a few major product launches in their entire careers. No matter how skilled, experienced, and smart they are, they simply don’t face this situation frequently. A company may be expert about its existing products and market segments, but the same strengths that allow it to dominate today’s lines of business can impeded adaptation and agility.

This is where an objective, experienced outsider can help. We can’t tell you about your own business; but we can help you change it.

Strategic work is often done through prototyping. For example, when shaping plans for a new product, product line, or market initiative, we might start by mocking up a new user interface, website page, brochure, or sales presentation. The choice of medium would depend on the strategic problem being addressed. For example:
  • When developing a new product that will face user acceptance challenges and support issues, then the focus might be on user interface and training.
  • When a product line shift might cause sales objections, or sales force resistance, then the focus might be on a new sales presentation or collateral material.
Following are a few examples of strategy projects from our files, where getting an outside perspective helped save time and cost, and (more important) avoided a wrong turn.
  • Product design vision. A software vendor was about to build a major new product, as a replacement for a mature system. Being customer-driven created a robust, successful solution; but today’s feature requests did not offer a vision for the next generation. By working closely with designers, users, and the sales force, we identified usage factors that went deeper than today’s product features. In the process, we identified key un-met needs and trends, and expanded the design vision to incorporate them.
  • Business plan. We have often been asked to help construct a business plan. Many consultants who offer business plan assistance focus on cosmetics and cookie-cutter elements, such as pro forma financials. These can be important elements, of course, but they are not usually the barrier to a good plan. Our mission has instead usually been strategic:

    • fleshing out the value proposition
    • developing a product position
    • anticipating competitive reactions
    • identifying and mitigating risks
By drawing on experience with dozens of ventures and hundreds of strategic problems, we have been able to help our clients sketch out viable plans – which any recent business school graduate could then put into a pretty presentation.
  • “Productizing” services. A long-term engineering client found that the traditional service model of “one man, one hour, one dollar” was increasingly difficult to sell, particularly in the private sector. Instead, a plan was developed to sell services in the guise of products with a fixed price or fixed deliverables. Clients were more willing to proceed when they knew costs and deliverables up-front. We helped structure various technical offerings using this approach, where the variable professional services element could be downplayed and the benefits of standard technology and standard methodology would be apparent.