Enhancing our clients’ experience
If you were a taxi driver, what might you do to increase your tips?
- Providing phone charging cables to the back seat
- Asking the passengers what music (if any) they would like to listen to
- Learning a bit of local history and offering to, e.g., tell passengers what movie scenes were filmed on which block, or where famous murders took place, or which apartment buildings have empty condos owned by Russian oligarchs
Those ideas (which might or might not work – haven’t tested them) have nothing to do with the basic function of a taxi: to get you from point A to point B.
But they do affect the client experience.
Starting with Episode 128 of Unleashed, published yesterday, I’m doing a six-part podcast miniseries on ways to enhance the client experience, based on a framework developed by David A. Fields that we used at the Top Tier events in 2018. Several dozen Umbrex members contributed ideas during the workshop.
Episode 128 introduced the series, and Episodes 129-133 (today through Sunday) provide some suggested ideas on how to improve the client experience across these five phases of a project:
- The proposal phase
- Onboarding / kickoff phase
- Project execution
The Lifespan of News (interactive visualization)
Interactive scrolling display of the lifespan of news at newslifespan.com.
I can imagine using a similar visualization on a consulting project (perhaps the impact of a series of promotional campaigns?
Compare: independent professional vs independent consultant vs freelancer
Umbrex member Caleb Williams asked me my perspective on the difference between these terms:
- Independent professional
- Independent consultant
- Independent contractor
- Independent advisor
- Freelance consultant
Since I’m trying to learn how to do video, I posted my two-minute answer here. Would love to see your thoughts on those terms in a comment to the video post.
Incidentally, I used Headliner to do the captions. It transcribes your video and adds the captions for you. Pretty great tool.
100+ Tech tools and apps for social sales
Found this on LinkedIn, posted by Chelsea Peitz.
Codes of the Underworld
How do criminals (notoriously an untrustworthy population) convince other criminals to trust them?
Why do real-life criminals adopt language and symbols from gangster movies?
Why is violence more common in prisons with a high inmate turnover?
Absolutely fascinating throughout, and relevant even for those not considering a career switch to the underworld. One key theme: expanding the idea of communication beyond language to include actions, particularly “honest signals,” that is, actions which are relatively cheap for an honest communicator to send and expensive for a dishonest communicator.
Highly recommended: Codes of the Underworld: How Criminals Communicate, by Diego Gambetta
Journaling prompt of the week
What are three things that you are really looking forward to the most?
Iconic NYC subway map
A beautiful piece of visual journalism by the New York Times on the iconic NYC subway map, which should get the Nobel Prize for Graphic Design. The designer of the map rode every subway line with his eyes closed to get a feel for the curves in the tracks! This story is worth three minutes of your time.
Hat tip to Jonathan Paisner for posting the story on LinkedIn.
Welcoming new member Bernhard Heine
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Bernhard Heine with Professional Business Coaches. Bernhard Heine is a Business and Executive Coach at Professional Business Coaches, Inc., (PBC, Inc.) a company he founded to help business owners and leaders achieve their vision. Bernhard has more than 30 years of experience working collaboratively with business partners in all phases of business management, restructuring and transformation, particularly in: strategic planning, marketing and sales, organizational design, engineering consulting, project management, coaching and facilitation.
Prior to forming PBC, Inc., he was Executive Director for Strategy and Business Development for eight years at Textron Inc. His responsibilities included: advising senior leaders, facilitating meetings and training sessions, leading strategic planning initiatives, conducting corporate and business strategy assessments, and screening attractive industry and business growth opportunities.
Prior to joining Textron, he was principal at Alliance Consulting Group, an e-business strategy consulting firm. Prior to that, he worked six years at Coca-Cola in Germany; advising the CEO and his staff on restructuring the German bottling system and implementing new marketing and sales strategies. Before Coca-Cola, he was a management consultant with the Boston Consulting Group, an international management consulting firm (also in Germany).
Bernhard started his career at a marine transportation consulting firm where he worked globally as a marine engineer on commercial shipbuilding projects, especially in Japan and South Korea.
Bernhard holds a BS in marine engineering from the US Merchant Marine Academy in NY. He also holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and is a Certified Professional Business Coach with the Professional Business Coaches Alliance, Certified Legal Practice Coach, and Authorized Client Builder Sales Trainer. Bernhard has also achieved the “Master Coach” designation from the PBCA in Sales, Coaching, Leadership, Marketing, and Exit Planning.
Welcoming new member Willem Koelewijn
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Willem Koelewijn. Willem is an independent healthcare services entrepreneur. After several years in management consulting (McKinsey) and telecoms, marketing 3G equipment to operators in Europe, Willem set a several Ambulatory Surgery Centres in the Netherland under the Alant Medical brand name. These clinics were merged with Bergman Clinics to become the largest chain of private clinics in the Netherlands. He served on the board as COO. He subsequently became an independent healthcare entrepreneur working in various parts of the Dutch healthcare system: from pain clinics, to midwife led maternity care to developing assisted living facilities for seniors.
Welcoming new member Nicky Shah
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Nicky Shah. Nicky graduated with a BA from the University of Oxford, after which she became a consultant with Booz Allen Hamilton (now Strategy&). She picked up experience across a range of industries and practices whilst at BAH.
In 2008 Nicky moved into industry and focused her discipline on revenue growth and strategy work for a subscription based business. Here, she became a subject matter expert on CRM, Customer Retention and Loyalty.
In 2017, she was approached to develop these practices from scratch for Cable and Wireless in the Caribbean markets.
Nicky lives in London, UK but is happy to work internationally. She enjoys keeping fit, trading the financial markets and supporting and mentoring startup businesses.
Show and Tell
“Show and Tell” is more powerful than “Tell.”
When independent consultants ask what’s the one thing they can do to increase the conversion rate of leads into projects, my answer is:
Create a portfolio of your templates and sanitized samples of your work.
When a client hires McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Deloitte, KPMG, LEK, or any other top firm, the client has a good sense of what she is going to get.
The output will look like the decks from previous projects, with different words and numbers.
When a client who hasn’t worked with you thinks about hiring you, however, she isn’t sure what you’ll deliver.
Yes, you said very nice things in the proposal meeting.
And you have a resume that suggests you did work like this before.
But can you still produce pages? Have you done this on your own?
Some independent consultants tell me that because of non-disclosure agreements, they can’t share any client work, even sanitized.
In that case, hire yourself and produce some sample output. This is possible whatever type of work you do.
Example: Commercial due diligence
Pick a company that interests you and create pages of total addressable market, competitor overview, value chain, product comparison, voice of the customer insights (do a few expert interviews). Prepare interview guides and the 3-week workplan.
Pick a industry you are familiar with and create a customer segmentation, a brand launch plan, a product roadmap. Write the consumer survey, the brief for the focus group.
Example: Leadership develop or top team alignment
Write a case study, Harvard Business School style, using pseudonyms for the executives. Describe the viewpoints of each stakeholder and what they experienced during the strategy offsite that you led
Example: Change management
Invent a scenario (e.g., roll out of a new ERP to the whole global finance team) and write a set of communications materials – the announcement, the training PPT, the sequenced roll-out plan, the FAQ
I’ve found that only 10-15% of independent consultants have samples of sanitized work ready to share and that those consultants are about twice as likely to get selected by a client after an initial meeting.
More thoughts on this in Episode 121 of Unleashed.
Is this Your Hidden Competition?
In this article, Kaihan Krippendorff identifies one major, but hidden, competitor you may not have recognised and explains how this may help you build a more competitive strategy.
If you’ve spent time developing your organization’s strategy, chances are you’re familiar with your competition. You know your competitors’ offerings, their strengths and weaknesses, and how you can deliver where they don’t. But when it comes to preparing for the future, there is one alternative competitor, less obvious but omnipresent, that may not have crossed your mind: nonconsumption. Keep reading to find out why nonconsumption may be a threat to your organization and how to address it.
NONCONSUMPTION: YOUR INVISIBLE COMPETITION
At last year’s Reimagine the Future Summit, I had the opportunity to meet backstage with Efosa Ojomo, Nigerian author, researcher, and speaker at Harvard Business School and the Clayton Christensen Institute for Disruptive Innovation. He introduced me to the concept of nonconsumption as a major competitor in the market.
He explains, ‘Nonconsumption occurs when the vast majority of people in an economy would benefit from access to a product or service, but due to obstacles such as cost, expertise, time, or availability, they are unable to afford the product.’
If left unchecked, nonconsumption can become one of your biggest competitors, but it can also lead to untapped market potential and strategic opportunities.
Key points covered include:
- Your invisible competition
- Four reasons for nonconsumption
- How Chinese virtual currency addresses nonconsumption
Read the full article, Have You Addressed Your Hidden Competitor?, on Kaihan.net.
Determine the Real Value of Your Customer Relationships
Robbie Baxter shares a video and transcript of this interview on subscription-based business with insights on how to quantify the value of customer relationships.
Revenue from loyal customers is more valuable than anonymous transactional revenue–it’s more predictable and more profitable. But until recently corporate valuations haven’t had a way to distinguish the quality of the revenue based on customer relationships.
Dan McCarthy, Assistant Professor of Marketing at Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business, is advocating for a new approach, known as “Customer Based Corporate Valuation.
I recently talked with Dan about why customer lifetime value is such an important and misunderstood metric, how to rethink the way companies are valued by the public markets, and what all of this means for subscription businesses.
Robbie Baxter: Can you explain customer based corporate valuation for the lay person.
Dan McCarthy: Customer base, corporate valuation at its most basic level is an enlightened way of forecasting a company’s future revenues, but driving that revenue forecasts off of what the customers will do. So hopefully it’s pretty intuitive that pretty much every major valuation method starts with some sort of a revenue forecast. And the main thing that we would say is every dollar of revenue has to come from a customer who’s making a purchase.
Key points include:
- Customer base corporate valuation
- Customer lifetime value
- The changing landscape of customer data
Read the full interview, How to Quantify the Value of Your Customer Relationships–An Interview with Professor Dan McCarthy, on LinkedIn.
Strategy Development Projects: The Whole Story in Three Acts
Aneta Key shares a helpful video and a few doodles that gives insight into the story of strategy development projects. Enjoy!
After a final client workshop, I was inspired to hand draw a couple of characters, outline a comics-like dialogue, digitize my doodles, animate sequence and put to music for a fun retrospective prompt.
This ~2 min video served as a great opener for the project retrospective and a fun project capstone.
If you’ve ever been involved in a strategy project, you may recognize the sentiments — do you?
Key areas of the process include:
- The beginning
- The middle
- The end
Watch more videos, including, The Story of Strategy Development Projects, on the AedeaPartners website.
Welcoming new member Andrew McKee
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Andrew McKee with Headland Strategy Group. Andrew has 15 years’ experience in biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, diagnostics, and other healthcare sectors. In his health care work, he specializes in consulting projects for healthcare executives that combine disruptive growth strategy expertise (e.g., disease area strategy, pipeline marketing/commercial evaluations, novel disruptive technologies) with distinctive consulting offerings (e.g., strategic decision-making workshop design and facilitation; qualitative market research with thought leaders). These projects necessarily require Andrew and his team to be multi-disciplinary problem-solvers and top-notch communicators.
Since 2012, Andrew has supervised 60+ projects on growth strategy and commercial strategy for executives from Fierce 15 biotechs to Top 5 pharma and across a wide range of therapeutic areas. His background includes having worked for McKinsey and Company, Google, and Genentech in roles of increasing responsibility, and having trained and performed as a professional saxophonist. He holds BSE and MD degrees from Duke University, and is the lead author of scientific publications and is co-inventor on several patents that have been licensed by industry. He is married and active with his family of three children. He has a dedicated hobby of writing novels. He also enjoys playing music (guitar, piano, drums, saxophones), hiking, camping, and sports with his family.
Welcoming new member Kedar Gharpure
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Kedar Gharpure with B2B Growth Consulting. Kedar is a former McKinsey & Co. project manager with over 10 years experience in growth strategy, commercial transformation and digital at B2B companies across a variety of sectors globally. Kedar has supported both Fortune 250 and PE owned B2B companies across a range of sectors such as industrial goods, specialty chemicals, hi-tech and business servies to craft their growth strategy and drive sales and margin growth.
He has particular expertise across several commercial topics including Pricing, Key Account Management, Go-to-Market model, Channel Strategy and Sales Force Effectiveness. Kedar holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering from University of Mumbai and a MBA from London Business School. He is British, based in London and loves to find time for go-kart racing.
Fee Structures for Consulting Engagements
David A. Fields shares a few valuable tips on consulting fee structures.
Consulting engagements come in many flavors. Your consulting firm’s work for a client could range from answering questions in real time based on your knowledge and experience, to developing research-based recommendations, to constructing and implementing complex solutions.
Where does advisory work fit in, and should you construct contracts for advisory work differently?
Let’s say Mabel Maybell, CEO of the famous Home o’ Phonics literacy company (a.k.a. HoP), asks you for help. Your consulting firm recently completed a project for HoP in which you researched a broad range of possible expansion opportunities. Ultimately, you recommended they enter the digital shirts arena.
Mabel’s senior staff think your recommendation is a good fit, and now Mabel wants to shoulder into the new jersey market.
Key points include:
- Client expectations
- Two different types of consulting contracts
- Mixing project work and advisory engagements
Read the full article, SHOULD YOU USE THE SAME FEE STRUCTURE FOR THESE TWO CONSULTING ENGAGEMENTS?, on DavidFields.com.
Create a comprehensive project list
Helpful exercise: Create a comprehensive list of every project you’ve worked on – as an independent, as a member of a firm, as an employee in industry.
You can download a template here.
Fields to consider including:
- Name of client company
- Name of client executive
- Client team members
- Consulting team members
- Project start date
- Project end date
- My employer at the time
- Primary location
- Description (situation; what did I do; what was the impact)
- Completed a case study?
- Sanitized work product available to share?
- Obtained a client recommendation?
- Client willing to serve as reference?
A comprehensive project list proves handy when you are asked to share your relevant experience on a particular topic. Just copy and paste.
Most people who do this exercise remember names of clients whom they ought to follow up with, leading to business development opportunities.
In Episode 140 of Unleashed, Jay Martin shares with me the benefits he has seen from maintaining an exhaustive project list.
Changes: Is it Time to Adopt a Multi-track Career Model for Your Business?
To ensure companies have the talent that will grow the business, Stephen Redwood explains how a multi-track career model is the better choice for today’s agile and lean requirements.
In a world where attracting top talent is increasingly competitive there is certainly a case for focusing attention on that special and small number of company roles that are deemed critical to success. Those roles may well shape the agenda, define points of focus, and be responsible for creating much of the potential business value, but it is important not to lose sight of the fact that it is the collective performance of the whole employee population that ultimately delivers the actual results. In thinking of a suitable metaphor, I was reminded of the poem Where Many Rivers Meet by David Whyte. The title conjured just the right image for the way career models should combine the flow of capabilities across organizations to support strategic goals and individual ambitions alike with a force like ‘the mouths of the rivers sing[ing] into the sea.’
The narrowly defined career paths of the past, that reward climbing a hierarchy of increasingly administrative general management roles, no longer fit with the leaner, agility-focused, diverse and dispersed operations of today’s companies. Nor do they fit with the expectations of an increasingly mobile, diverse, remote and ‘gig-minded’ talent pool of today’s society. More flexible career paths are the order of the day, yet in many cases the need lags behind the reality.
Clients often ask me what they should factor into their thinking as they evolve new designs that allow for multiple career paths, providing opportunities for a wide range of skill sets and capabilities.
Key points include:
- Addressing the practical realities of the global labor market
- Balancing individual and organizational needs
- Offering different career tracks
Read the full article, Where Many Rivers Meet – Building Multi-Track Career Models That Work, on LinkedIn.
Our Strange Economy: How Coffee Shops Subsidize Airlines
Ian Tidswell provides insight into the strange pricing practices fueled by loyalty programs, credit card programs, fees, and customer perception of value.
Utpal Dholakia always has interesting posts on pricing. This one got me thinking about the strange way that buying a coffee can result in wealth transfer to an airline.
Airlines make a lot of money off of their loyalty programs (often all of their profit). 71% of those miles are purchased, many by banks for their credit card programs. This is strange.
Credit card payment processing is not a very economically efficient market: there’s close to a duopoly with MasterCard and Visa (80% market share). That, along with the scale efficiencies, consumer switching costs, and merchant risk aversion (more on this below) mean they can charge high fees to merchants, capturing huge value. (Capturing rather than creating IMHO, since this is rent-seeking behavior. It’s a high-margin, commodity business. MasterCard net profit margin is 50%!)
MasterCard and Visa member banks then compete with each other in a profitable but near-commodity market. One way they compete is on price: sharing some of the fees they earn via the processing companies with consumers. They could do this with a simple cash-back scheme or other reward programs, but it turns out that airline loyalty points work well since many people value them higher than their actual worth. It’s basically a parallel currency with a highly variable exchange rate to valuable services. An exchange rate the airline controls.
Key points include:
- The true value of reward programs
- The true cost of reward points
- The rentier economy
Read the full post, The strange case of a Cup of Coffee, Credit Cards and Costa Rica vacations, and access links on the subject on eenconsulting.com.
Steps to Secure a Successful Digital Strategy
Nils Boeffel provides key steps you can take to ensure your digital strategy will be successful.
Everyone is talking about digitalization, but many people and organizations get it wrong. To them it means throwing technology at things, hoping that they will get better. What is it really, what does it mean, and how do you think about it and implement it?
Last year I led a digitalization workshop at a company where they were looking to increase their digitization efforts. They recognized the need to move ahead (mainly due to changing market demands and the competitive situation), had several topics already under way, and wanted to “speed things up.” During the workshop it turned out that many things were already being done in different parts of the organization, that there was no central digital strategy, that the digitization was not integrated with their overall corporate strategy, and that the initiatives were taking longer than planned, and not providing the expected benefits.
How could they do it better, and what would it take to successfully define a digital strategy and implement digitalization?
What is digitalization?
The main aspect of digitalization means bringing information (data) and people (the users of the data) closer together, and bringing more data into an easily accessible and usable digital format. Digital data is only helpful if the information is used to provide value, accelerate or simplify processes, aid in decision making (as in KPIs), or help us better understand a topic.
Key points include:
- Three key roles in digitalization
- Phases of digital strategy
- Puting digitalization on the corporate agenda
Read the full article, Digital strategy or digital disaster – how to develop a successful digital strategy, on Boeffel.net.
Key Steps to Excellence in Supply Chain Operations
Balaji Padmanabhan shares an article that explains why executives must rethink the goal of cost reduction in supply chain operations to maintain a competitive advantage.
With repeated disruptions impacting business in recent years—from the financial crisis to severe weather to Covid-19—ensuring continuity of supply has become a top priority for CEOs and Boards. A survey of S&P 500 annual reports shows Supply Chain capability is a growing concern, with new initiatives underway to boost resilience, efficiency and flexibility. Excellence in Supply Chain operations is fast emerging as a major differentiator and a key to competitive advantage across industries.
Historically, most organizations have viewed Supply Chain operations as a “Cost Center” and focused on cost reduction and efficiency gains. For Supply Chain operations to achieve a competitive advantage, executives need to expand their thinking to integrate objectives along the following dimensions:
Managing Complexity – Globalization and the drive to cut costs at each step have created ever-more convoluted paths that, while seemingly cheaper, ingrain complexity and boost vulnerability. Tackling complexity starts with an understanding of the mid- to long-term demand/supply balance, the geographic distribution of customers, product value density, inventory positioning, and supply risk profile. Further upstream, organizations need to take a hard look at the impact of “SKU proliferation” and the net benefit of providing seemingly infinite choice to customers.
Key points include:
- Value-Adding Digitization
- Integrated Planning and Operations
- End-to-End Execution
Read the full article, Supply Chain Operations as an Enabler to Delivering Business Strategy, on LinkedIn.
Thinking Forward to the Future of Work
Paul Millerd shares insights from multiple sources on the future of work in these five conversations.
The future of work can mean anything. I’ve had many conversations and discussions around the idea of “future of work” where people talk past each other, often focused on different fundamental issues. In an effort to make sense of this complexity and create some common ground for the many people having these conversations, I propose differentiating between five future of work conversations:
Conversation #1: Macro Trends (consultancies, journalists, politicians)
This conversation is typified by looking at trends and then working backward to see what the implications are for people. Terms like “fourth industrial revolution,” “the end of work,” “post-work,” “artificial intelligence,” and “robots” are used prolifically. McKinsey writes in a report on the future of work:
‘Automation, digital platforms, and other innovations are changing the fundamental nature of work.’
‘Automation, advanced manufacturing, AI, and the shift to e-commerce are dramatically changing the number and nature of work.’
…and finally, The Brookings Institute:
‘Robots, artificial intelligence, and driverless cars are no longer things of the distant future.’
Key points include:
- One of the top three skills workers will need
- The Gig Economy
- Evolving Organizational Ecosystems
Read the full article, The Future Of Work Is Five Different Conversations, on LinkedIn.
Welcoming new member Hung Nguyen
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Hung Nguyen with OUTLAST Consulting. Hung recently joined OUTLAST Consulting, a purpose-driven professional development + strategy firm focused on fueling innovation and empowering diverse talent. Prior to OUTLAST, Hung headed the Digital Center of Expertise at BP, where she piloted user-centric ways to recruit, develop, and deploy talent. At McKinsey, she focused on organizational effectiveness and cultural transformations.
She has a Bachelors degree in Psychology and Economics from Harvard College and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business. Her interest in diversity extends beyond work and into her love for travel. You can watch her globetrotting antics on CBS’s reality TV show, The Amazing Race, which premiered in Fall 2020. Hung looks forward to collaborating on projects involving professional development or diversity.
How Will You Meet Client Expectations in 2024?
Amanda Setili asks us to think about how interaction with clients has changed and what expectations will be in the years ahead.
Imagine that it’s three years in the future, in 2024. Largely gone are the days of flying somewhere to meet with a customer for an hour or two. Customer expectations have changed dramatically; they want substance more than just a few hours together.
Instead of a social call, customers in 2024 want substantive gatherings of talent. For example, they value it when you can set up a virtual gathering between your customer, an engineer in California, a SME in New York, and an entrepreneur in Germany.
The way things are done in 2024 are a direct result of everyone going virtual in 2020, plus three years of effort to make virtual gatherings substantively better, rather than just socially distant. It’s become far easier to share data, see and interact with other people, swap ideas, break out into small groups, and even to look the other person in the eye.
No one—myself included—can accurately predict all the innovations likely to take place over the next three years, but I’m pretty certain that many will combine to make virtual gatherings far more effective.
Key points include:
- New skills and perspectives
- Changing expectations
- Changing operations
Read the full article, How Will You Interact with Customers in 2024?, on LinkedIn.
Welcoming new member Nilesh Rajadhyax
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Nilesh Rajadhyax with Vyom Health. Nilesh is a seasoned executive with 15+ years of experience in the Healthcare sector primary serving payers and providers. He was an Associate Partner at McKinsey and Company and advised clients on strategy, technology and acquisitions in healthcare. He served some large Health systems, a large national payer, a large healthcare technology company and many middle market private equity funds.
He then joined TransUnion’s Healthcare division and successfully, built a data business line from scratch. While at TransUnion he served as the GM for couple product lines, led the billing and sales operations functions and also led the merger and acquisitions team for the Healthcare division. He was part of TransUnion’s journey to IPO from a private equity ownership and understands the aspects of leading and operating under both ownership structures.
He most recently was with Heartland Dental, a large roll-up of ~1000 dental offices and was the Service line GM for Invisalign and Endodontics (root canals) across the organization. He led the marketing, training, payer management, financing and vendor management functions to grow the service lines and understands the mechanics of a multi-site provider network.
Nilesh would like to collaborate on projects of growth, process improvements, corporate development and strategy in the area of Healthcare providers, payers and Healthcare technology and services.
Effective Strategies for Uncertain Times
Barry Horwitz explains why developing strategy is even more important when instability and uncertainty are the norm.
‘There has never been a time in which managers did not invoke the idea that the world is changing faster than it’s ever changed before.’
Nitin Nohria, just-retired Dean of Harvard Business School
Pandemic, rampant unemployment, economic uncertainty, climate change, political upheaval.
And that’s just what you’ll find above the fold in today’s newspaper. Given all the turmoil and confusion across the board — about today, let alone tomorrow — is there even any point in developing a strategic plan for your business?
Of course, as someone who trades in strategy, my position on this question is pretty easy to guess: The answer is a resounding YES.
First, because as Dean Nohria and many others have observed over the years, we humans are biased towards believing that change today is happening more rapidly and more broadly than ever before. It’s not. The specifics may be different, but rapid change has always been a given.
Second, it depends very much on what you envision when thinking of a “strategic plan.” If your answer is, “a fancy, dust-gathering binder full of financial projections and dozens of pages of text assembled to spell out specific plans for five years into the future,” then I agree, it’s a waste of time.
But that’s not what an effective strategic plan looks like.
Key points include:
- Strategy to determine purpose
- Strategy is direction
- Strategy recommendations
Read the full article, Is Strategy Still Relevant?, on HorwitzandCo.com.
Welcoming new member Vlad Sumarokov
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Vlad Sumarokov. Vlad spent three years with BCG and has been running his own consulting practice since 2012. Prior to BCG, Vlad spent over a decade in the technology field across multiple industries. In his practice, Vlad provides his expertise to operationalizing large transformation efforts within Pharma and Med Devices industry as well as to organizations seeking to accelerate their innovation agenda via external partnerships.
Vlad lives in Portland, OR with his wife and three children. Both he and his wife are avid judo players, who continue to practice, teach, and compete in the sport. Vlad is happy to collaborate on interesting projects globally.
Accepting payment by credit card
Since I started my own practice 13 years ago, last week was the first time that I received payment for a consulting project by credit card.
It turned out to be simpler than I expected to set up. We already had a Stripe account for accepting payments for the Guide to Setting Up Your Own Consulting Practice. I entered the payment info on Friday and had the funds in our checking account on Tuesday.
I don’t recommend taking credit cards if you can avoid it – we lost 3% to Stripe – but in this case the client insisted.
In Episode 347 of Unleashed I discuss my experience accepting credit card payment, including the couple steps involved to receive the full 16 digit number.
How to Improve the Virtual Learning Experience
Christy Johnson shares a post from her company blog on how to make virtual learning a better experience for students.
In this panel, experts from Stanford and from the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco discussed:
- Experimenting with synchronous and asynchronous classroom environments, flipped classrooms, and different online tools
- Helping students meet, network, collaborate, complete meaningful activities, and learn from one another
- Thinking creatively about using technology and designing online learning specifically for an online setting
- Staying positive and using what we’re learning now to improve education in the long run
- Working with and listening to students
Themes that Emerged During a Full Term of Online Instruction in Spring 2020
John Mitchell, a Professor of Computer Science at Stanford, and Maxwell Bigman, a PhD student at Stanford’s GSE, conducted a survey of the online experiences of Stanford’s CS program and revealed those results in a paper, “Teaching Online in 2020: Experiments, Empathy, Discovery.” At Stanford, and so many other universities, Mitchell said, everyone did what they could to adapt to circumstances in the emergency shift to online instruction. It was a seat-of-the-pants-effort. Most faculty spent several times as long as they normally would have to prepare and teach their courses.
Key points include:
- Reducing Zoom fatigue and facilitating student collaboration
- Comparisons with the massive online open course environment
- Using technology to measure and maintain attention
Read the full article, Enhancing the Virtual Learning Experience: Lessons from Stanford’s Transforming Learning Accelerator, on ArtemisConnection.com.
Building Leadership through the Principles of Theater
David Edelman explains how the foundations of Theater provide powerful tools for leaders to connect, motivate, and deliver during times of constant dramatic change.
When a theater is empty, the tradition is to keep a lone bulb lit on the stage — a ghost light — really for safety, but superstitiously to keep away the bad spirits lurking in the building. Sadly, most theaters right now are lit merely by their ghost bulb, but in the absence of action on stage, I prefer to think of those bulbs as beacons to the rest of us about all that Theater provides, even when performances are temporarily suspended.
We are in a time when the “audiences,” or customers and stakeholders, of businesses are going through constant, dramatic change, and teamwork needs to dynamically adjust, every single day, to the new realities we face. In such a climate, the foundations of Theater provide powerful tools for leaders needing to connect, motivate, and deliver under the spotlight as never before.
In the past, I have talked about the importance of thinking about great business leaders embracing a view more akin to a jazz combo leader than a classical music conductor, inspired by a seminal article by John Clarkeson, the late former CEO of the Boston Consulting Group. Set the structure, assemble great talent, keep the core rhythm going, listen constantly to each other, but let each other innovate in new directions, which if successful, the team will sense and follow. This view is a clear contrast to formally planned, rigorous planning, and leadership through the force of hierarchy.
Key points include:
- Igniting passion
- Investigating the context
- Invite a relationship through a fitting demand
Read the full article, Guided by the “Ghost” Light: Tapping into Theater’s Lessons during its Absence, on LinkedIn.
What Killed Nuclear Energy and Why it Matters
During the height of the pandemic in 2020, Edward Kee took the time to write a book on the failure of the nuclear power market, how nuclear energy is the most sensible energy alternative, and what market failure means for this industry.
The biggest threat faced by nuclear power is from a market approach to the electricity industry. Electricity industry reforms have led to the early closure of existing nuclear power plants and stopped new nuclear power development.
In the US, 6,778 MWe of operating nuclear power plant capacity was closed early between 2013 and 2020, an additional 9,162 MWe of operating nuclear power plant capacity is scheduled to close early by the end of 2025, and more US merchant nuclear plants face financial issues that may lead them to close early.
In the market approach to electricity, short-term electricity market prices set the value of commodity electricity, electricity prices define power plant value, and private companies develop and own power plants based on financial returns. This market approach leads to less nuclear power, with the loss of the considerable public benefits that nuclear power provides.
Economists call this market failure.
This book includes information on the nuclear power and electricity industries, market failure in the nuclear power industry, and some ideas about resolving this market failure.
Key points covered in this book include:
- Why nuclear power matters
- Market failure
- Nuclear power in the real world
Find the book, Market Failure, Market-Based Electricity is Killing Nuclear Power, on Amazon.com.
Welcoming new member Jakob Skovgaard
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Jakob Skovgaard. Jakob is an international senior executive with 20 years of P&L, strategy and leadership experience from McKinsey & Co, Arla Foods (dairy) and Danish Crown (meat). Most recently Managing Director Denmark in Danish Crown with 450 mio EUR full P&L responsibility and Global Cheese SVP in Arla with 2+ bn EUR category P&L responsibility. Since last year (2020) Jakob has worked as an independent advisor, consultant and board member. Jakob has particular expertise in running and growing food/fmcg business with a spike in meat/dairy and in strategy as well as all commercial disciplines, i.e. sales, marketing, innovation. Jakob has led several change programs and been focused on growth and transformation throughout his career.
Jakob lives in Denmark with his wife and two high-school age children and enjoys all outdoor activity. Jakob is happy to collaborate on projects within strategy, organization, commercial excellence and optimization within food/fmcg and related industries.
A 30-Day Plan to Painless Networking
Robbie Baxter shares valuable advice on how to build and manage a network in a comfortable and authentic way.
A few years ago, my sister asked me to co lead a workshop to help a group of her fellow psychologists build their professional network.
Here’s how she opened the event: “I know most of us really don’t like networking, and I’m glad you’re here anyway. For most of us networking is worse than a sharp stick in the eye”
I heard murmurs of agreement and saw heads bobbing up and down. These people hated networking. But I came to learn that a big part of it was how they defined networking and the approach they believed they had to use to build and nurture their networks.
I have come to learn that for many people, networking feels inauthentic and cheesy, and seems to take them away from the real work of helping clients and doing the work.
And yet, your network can be a tremendously powerful tool in “doing the work” and your investment in building your network can be among the most authentic and meaningful parts of your day.
In my work building engaged communities and forever transactions for all kinds of organizations, I have spent a lot of time teaching people how to build their networks in an ethical and comfortable way.
Here are some tips that can help you build yours!
Key points include:
- Communication tips
- Strategies for segmentation
- Developing opportunities
Read the full article, 30 Days to a Stronger Network in 2021, on LinkedIn.
Welcoming new member Katherine Feeney
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Katherine Feeney with Beckett Square. Katherine runs Beckett Square, through which she works primarily with private equity funds and corporate acquirers on topics including commercial due diligence, investment and portfolio strategy, market screens, and performance improvement. Katherine founded Beckett Square in early 2019 after her time at Bain & Company, where she worked across practices and industries in the Washington, DC and Johannesburg, South Africa offices.
Concurrent to founding Beckett Square, she was instrumental in the launch of Lock 8 partners, a lower-middle-market Saas-focused growth equity fund. Katherine is based in Washington, DC, where she also serves on the boards of two local nonprofit organizations. She earned her undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Wharton School.
Strategic Steps to Profitable Growth
Sugath Warnakulasuriya shares an article that explores a strategy many companies take to develop a path to profitable growth.
Many traditional high-share, low-growth companies find themselves in a similar predicament: they’re burdened with large, fragmented account portfolios, likely from inorganic market share binges. They often have hybrid asset bases, widely dispersed points of distribution and sale, large workforces, and complex logistics, all of which make margin growth very difficult. The legacy nature of these businesses also prevent access to accurate and timely customer and operational data, further limiting clear paths to profitable growth.
A few companies have battled this dilemma by rethinking how they operate, with judicious use of inexpensive digital engagement, devices, data analytics and innovation techniques. The typical playbook involves creating new digital customer experiences that introduce convenience and drive use, providing the workforce with mobile tools that make it easier to do their job, and deriving insights from newly collected data to improve operations altogether. With emergence of low-cost IoT, some companies even instrument and connect their distributed assets, opening the flood gates to granular, up-to-date and highly useful data. Bringing it altogether with modern data infrastructure and analytics, and operationalizing key insights paves their way to profitable growth.
Key points include:
- Creating new digital customer experiences
- Digital dashboards to monitor hidden patterns
- Connecting distributed assets
Read the full article, “Cash Cows with Millions of Udders” and Digital Paths to Profitable Growth, on LinkedIn.
Welcoming new member Wayne Patten
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Wayne Patten with Innovation Strategies. Wayne has over 30 years of experience in consulting to senior leadership in companies of all sizes. In 2000, Mr. Patten founded Innovation Strategies, LLC to focus on helping clients achieve significant organic growth and operational excellence. Prior to founding Innovation Strategies, he co-founded Prism Consulting International, and helped grow the firm to over 25 consultants. He also worked as a strategy consultant for Booz-Allen & Hamilton.
Mr. Patten has served clients in a wide range of industries, including industrial and building product manufacturers, financial services companies, and healthcare service providers. His expertise includes growth and technology strategy planning, strategy implementation, and business process redesign / re-engineering to improve operations, product development, and pricing. Prior to his consulting career, he worked as an electrical design engineer for a contractor to the U.S. Department of Defense.
Mr. Patten is married with three adult children and lives in Northern Virginia. He would welcome the opportunity to collaborate on projects where his expertise and experience can add value to clients large or small.
How to Improve Your Company Career Page
Are you failing to attract the talent you want at your company? Paul Millerd takes some time to analyze what does and doesn’t work on a company career page with examples taken from a review of 100 sites.
Why Stripe has the only good career page on the internet (okay maybe Costco too)
January 30th, 2021: Greetings from Taipei. It’s day 9 of our quarantine here in Taiwan. We were lucky enough to stay in Angie’s parents apartment so we’ve been able to walk in and out of different rooms to keep us occupied. Thank you to Arvind and Peter for becoming paid supporters of the newsletter and greetings to the 75 new subscribers, hitting the 3,500 subscriber mark.
This week’s picture features Angie’s rock painting creations, a hobby she picked up only a few months ago. Crazy!
#1 Stripe seems to be the only company that has put effort into their career page
This week I went through more than 100 career pages. It started because I have been writing about how our expectations of work have changed dramatically since I graduated in 2007. When I graduated careers pages were simply a listing of jobs available.
However, somewhere in the last 15 years things started to change. Companies started to market working at their companies and use language like “find your calling” or “do the most important work of your life.” AirBnB’s page tells people that they can “life their best life” at AirBnB.
This is a big shift and has led to a vicious cycle of increasing expectations and bolder language around what the company claims to offer. This is great except I’m not sure that most companies can guarantee that people will live their best life or do the most meaningful work of their careers. Most jobs, well, just aren’t all that exciting.
Someone suggested I walk through the Stripe site and explain why there site is so good. Here are five things they do:
Key points include:
- User experience
- Effective communication
Read the full article, The Career Page Crisis | #126, on Boundless.com.
Welcoming new member Koen Veltman
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Koen Veltman with OrganizationBuilders. Koen is a true believer in business as a force for good. Koen has over ten years of experience as a consultant at McKinsey & Company, Aberkyn, and SparkOptimus. And is the founder of OrganizationBuilders. Building hands-on expertise in over 40 organizations in transformation topics like designing and delivering substantial scale change, organizational design, leadership development, Agile, Lean, strategy to execution, culture change at scale, large re-organzations, and front line customer excellence.
Koen has worked across a broad number of industries and geographies with organizations ranging from 5 people start-ups as well as 250,000 people collectives. Additionally, Koen held a role as COO in a venture, worked at an energy efficiency startup, supported multiple NGOs and is a board member of the nonprofit INDEVOR for which he was the founder of INDEVOR consulting. Koen is certified Holacracy Coach (the 11th globally certified coach), a certified MMS coach, level 1 Barrett CTT. Koen has done international project work in Germany, Denmark, UK, Ireland, France, Czech Republic, Uganda, Ethopia, Tunesia, India, the US and lived and worked for 1.5 years in Singapore. He holds an MBA from INSEAD and an MSc in Econometrics and Quantitative Finance from Tilburg University.
How Hippo Survived and Thrived
Tim Worboys shares the strategies behind the success of a leading US insurtech company.
Hippo, a leading US insurtech company, announced yesterday that they had raised $150M in a Series E round, valuing the business at $1.5B post fundraising.
As the global economic conditions continue to prove challenging due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic we are beginning to see a split in the market – some insurtechs are going public or successfully raising significant amounts of funding and others like Metromile are either having to lay off and furlough significant numbers of staff or closing altogether like Coverly. So why are Hippo in the former group and continuing to be so successful? In my view there are three key reasons:
Hippo chose a great “niche”
All insurtechs entering a product market have to focus on an initial country and product combination (a niche). This niche is critical as it defines the parameters within which they operate and hence significantly influences their chances of success. Hippo chose to enter the US homeowners market – this market has a number of key advantages that help increase their chances of being successful:
Large size –at ~$100B there is a lot of opportunity for new entrants. Even at a retention rate of 85% there is $15B of new business premiums to compete for in a given year. Hippo at ~$270M currently will only be looking for 1-2% of that per year so can focus on the type of business/customer/states that they wish to target and have a lower chance of challenges such as adverse selection.
Key points include:
- Consistent growth
- High average premiums
- Simpler supply chain and less complexity of claims vs Auto
Read the full article, Hippo – getting a lot of things right – sustainable profitability the final challenge, on LinkedIn.
Welcoming new member Ulrich Riedel
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Ulrich Riedel with Dr. Ulrich Riedel Consulting. Ulrich is a trusted senior manager and management board member with 21 years of leadership experience in industrial companies, and as McKinsey project manager. For 2 years (and his entire professional life) he has been supporting industrial companies to increase their likelihood of successful and full-value execution (‘Gold Vein’ approach: https://www.drulrichriedelconsulting.ch/).
Ulrich lives near Zurich, Switzerland, with his Sr. Logistics-IT Project Manager wife and two wonderful and strong primary school daughters. He plays piano with passion (rather poorly though). Ulrich is happy to collaborate on how to increase execution success of ready-to-implement projects/ strategies/ change situations, mainly for industrial companies, in Switzerland, Europe and beyond (English and German only).
Cost-effective Tips for the Pro-active Business Leader
Bernie Heine provides a few cost-effective ways to boost employee engagement, productivity, and loyalty.
Showing gratitude to employees is essential, and a good and easy way to do it is with employee incentives that don’t cost money.
A good business leader should reward the employees when they deserve it. However, the reason why they often shy away from it is that it costs money. While one could argue that losing valuable employees is more expensive, there’s a middle ground. There are ways to increase motivation in the workplace that are free. With these employee incentives that don’t cost money, business leaders can make their employees feel valuable without breaking the bank.
Reasons to provide employee incentives that don’t cost money
Having your business transferred without delays was easy with the right company by your side. But someone else also took the burden of your relocation – your faithful employees.
Even if no significant changes have happened, your employees might have been doing their best for a while now. Through rewards, you get to increase productivity and show them you value them. Furthermore, you’re setting an excellent example for other employees by showing what values are important to your company. And since it’s so easy to show appreciation with cost-free employee incentives, there’s no reason not to do it.
Key points include:
- Flexibility options
Read the full article, Employee Incentives That Don’t Cost Money, on the ProfessionalBusinessCoach.com.
Big Brands Make a Bold Move
In response to the recent news on how many brands approached this year’s Super Bowl ads, Jennifer Hartz shares an article that highlights corporate responsibility in action.
Two stalwart Super Bowl brands and commercial rivals are skipping 2021 game ads.
On February 2nd, amidst a global pandemic and national division, millions will watch Super Bowl LV! The 2020 vs 2019 Champions, Kansas City Chiefs vs Tom Brady…. I mean the Tampa Bay Buccaneers…. will face off with the NFL’s first home field advantage final game. The Super Bowl is frequently the most watched American TV broadcast of the year.
What’s the broad and enduring appeal of the Super Bowl?
For many, especially the younger generations, with ever-shrinking attention spans, football is now likely the nation’s pastime. Average, baseball games last 3 hours and contain 18 minutes of action. Average football games last 3 hours and 15 minutes with 11 minutes of actual sporting. So why do millions eschew the MLB and flock to the Super Bowl in person or on television or via streaming? It’s what nonprofits call “wrap-around services.” Someone in need may ask for food, but good organizations work to help them with job training, childcare, affordable housing, clothing.
Super Bowl commercials were memes before memes were trendy.
For the biggest spectacle in US sports, that means pre-game shows, team merch, player bios, coaches, and refs, instant replays, slo-mo, music, cheerleaders, celebrities, post-game analysis, and usually intriguing …. COMMERCIALS!
Key points include:
- Brands joining the bandwagon
- The broad and enduring appeal of the Super Bowl
- What’s different about Super Bowl 55
Read the full article, Big Brands Redirect Super Bowl Ad Budgets to Accelerate COVID Recovery, on CorporateHartz.com.
How to Conduct a Four-week Strategy Review
From his company website, Andrew Hone offers a guide on how to conduct a rapid strategic review and identify new value-creating opportunities for your business.
A strategic review is a structured process to identify new value-creating opportunities within a business. This could be about improving the performance of an existing division, or taking advantage of a new market adjacency opportunity. Many companies undertake strategic reviews on an annual basis as part of their strategic planning process. Other businesses will undertake them on a more ad hoc basis when presented with a specific opportunity or problem within the business. A change of ownership or appointment of a new CEO can often trigger the need for a strategic review of the business as a way to clarify the key areas of opportunity and challenges within the existing portfolio.
Whatever its origins, a strategic review should be a clear fact-based analysis of the business opportunity or issue. It provides an opportunity to step back from day-to-day operations to assess the strategic foundations on which a business is built. The outcome of a strategic review should be a clear set of strategic recommendations and a future roadmap for the business that charts its course and enables increased and sustained performance now and for the future.
Benefits of a strategic review
When conducted well, a strategic review can deliver significant benefits to a business. In addition to the direct financial benefits of improving performance and targeting new growth opportunities, the process itself can improve alignment between employees, senior management teams and other key stakeholders, helping to drive a high performance culture and clarity on the future direction of the business.
Key points include:
- Benefits of a structured approach to strategy development
- Typical scope of a strategic review
- Key principles to follow when undertaking a strategic review
- Indicative timeline and workplan for completing a strategic review in 4 weeks
Access the full guide, The four week strategic review, on the ZenithStrategy.com website.
Comparison of common entity types
[Download the above chart comparing entity types.]
Independent consultants starting out often ask what type of entity they should use to establish their practice.
Episode 353 of Unleashed could be helpful for consultants in the U.S. who have not yet established their entity.
In this episode, Jonah Gruda reviews the most relevant aspects of the five types of entities that are most commonly considered:
- Sole proprietorship
- Limited Liability Company
For each entity type, Jonah reviews:
- Formation requirements
- Liability Exposure
- Taxation at the entity level
- Tax rates
- Tax reporting
- Number of owners
- Self-employment tax
Jonah Gruda is a Tax Partner at Mazars and specializes in income taxation, executive compensation and stock option planning, estate and gift planning and wealth preservation.
Jonah can be contacted through Mazars or LinkedIn. Or by email: email@example.com
Welcoming new member Peter Korponai
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Peter Korponai with Hungarian Enterprise Development Institute. Peter has been running his strategy consulting practice since 2011. Peter started his career in consulting at McKinsey, where he spent 4 years working mainly for banking and energy sector clients in Hungary and neighboring countries. After McKinsey, he worked in line management as CFO in the medical device manufacturing and interactive media sectors.
In 2007, he returned to consulting and joined CEMI, a Central Eastern Europe focused strategy boutique founded by McKinsey alumni. Peter has extensive experience in the area of strategy, restructuring, M&A, and investment management. He has been serving VC and PE clients as well to enhance value creation at portfolio companies.
Peter lives in Budapest, Hungary and he is happy to collaborate on projects involving the above mentioned topics.
Top Business Trends Shaping Strategy
After the disruption of 2020, your business strategies may need to change to accommodate the cultural shifts. Kaihan Krippendorff shares business trends that should be taken into account.
This year, as we recover from a massive shock to all forms of structure and life as we once knew it, we have a chance to create the future. We will dust ourselves off, begin to rebuild, and attempt to return to a sense of normalcy.
However, we ask that you, as Outthinkers, take on this challenge with great care. In 2021, perhaps more than ever before, you will be writing the rules of a new reality. So, as you take your first steps toward shaping this new year, be sure that it is a reality in which you want to live.
Twice monthly, through our Outthinker Strategy Network, we gather a group of top CSOs to deliberate on the most important things on their minds while running a business today. This is not a massive global survey sent to thousands of CSOs asking them to agree or disagree on popular buzzwords or pre-defined topics. Rather, our trends report comes from in-depth conversations and trusted relationships, even if our list may not match up to the latest keywords in the news.
Each week, we will expand upon one of these trends with the intention of supporting your organization’s strategy for the next year and beyond. Our newsletter subscribers will receive early access to each weekly announcement.
Key points include:
- Ecosystem development
- Future organizational models
- Future of work
Read the full article, 2021 Business Trends: The 10 Strategic Shifts That Will Shape Your Industry, on Kaihan.net.
Welcoming new member Anthonie Zoomers
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Anthonie Zoomers. Anthonie is a seasoned and entrepreneurial hands-on transformation CEO. Advisory/supervisory roles for private equity, family companies, banks and nonprofit. Quick scan assessments of strategy and organization – for identifying a company’s performance potential and the key levers to exploit it. Executive coaching and mediation.
Results-driven. Strong analytical and conceptual skills. Strategy and execution. Restructuring and renewal. ‘Big picture’ and detail. Creative/imaginative and pragmatic/down-to-earth. Good listener. People-oriented and able to mobilize organizations. Thrives on tackling complexity – for growth and structural step-change performance improvement.
Over 35 years advisory experience (including 7 years at McKinsey & Company). Over 30 years general management experience in large and mid-sized companies. Over 25 years experience on supervisory boards. B-to-B and value chain: food/agro, automotive, packaging. Media/ICT, building/construction, retail/franchise. Domestic, international and global. Broad array of complex governance situations (including private equity, family-owned, cooperatives, franchise).
Why Should Your Business Adopt a Product Mindset?
Tirrell Payton explains the difference between a project mindset and a product mindset and which one may be the better strategy during market shifts and disruptions.
Digital” continues to grow in importance as a first class business discipline, just as important as marketing, finance, or strategy. Therefore, product management has become more important as the primary lever to bring digital products and services to life. Given that, more organizations have begun to shift their thinking from a ‘project’ mindset to a ‘product’ mindset.
While the difference may seem semantic in nature, the implications can be substantial. A project mindset precludes a beginning, middle, and end of a project with a defined scope. A product mindset precludes orientation around the customer, and continuously evolving the offering to stay aligned with customer wants, needs, and opportunities to delight. The organizations that can best align themselves with customers are the organizations that win in the digital economy.
According to Gartner, “Digital product management is a blend of art and science, an emerging discipline that expands the scope of the product manager’s role. Organizations that embrace and invest in this discipline are better-equipped to capitalize on market shifts and changes in business dynamics, including disruptions.
Key points include:
- Think in problems, not solutions
- Think in experiments, not analysis
- Deliver value, not features
Read the full article, Seven Tips to Accelerate Product Mindset Shifts, on LinkedIn.
Welcoming new member Pontus Kristiansson
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Pontus Kristiansson with Altaverita. Pontus spent his early career with McKinsey & Co and Procter & Gamble. Then went on to spend 20+ years as serial entrepreneur and tech CEO before going back to management strategy consulting through his independent practice Altaverita, while also chairing his family office Realinvest.se.
Believes in saving the world through climate impact investing and scaling technological climate solutions. Thrives on helping others succeed. Secret super power: Strong problem solver, with an uncanny ability to explain complex problems and solutions in easy-to-understand yet highly engaging ways. Pontus is happy to collaborate on projects involving new product positioning strategies, business growth strategies and financial market communications – particularly if relating to projects or businesses with a positive climate impact opportunity.
How to Deal with Innovation Derailers
If you have experienced great ideas die in the making and want to avoid this in the future, read on. Robyn Bolton offers a few expert tips on how to combat the problem of the ‘derailers’ in your midst.
Innovating – doing something different that creates value – is hard.
Innovating within a large organization can feel impossible.
In my work with corporate innovators, we always start with great optimism that this time will be different, this time innovation will stick and become the engine that drives lasting growth.
Within weeks, sometimes days, however, we start to be “loved to death,” a practice that takes one of two forms:
The Protector who says, “That’s not how we do things and, if you insist on doing things that way, you’ll get shut down. Instead, do things this way”
The Enthusiast who exclaims, “This is amazing! I would love to be involved. And you should share what you’re doing with this person, and definitely tap into this other person’s experience, and I know this third person will want to be involved, and you definitely must talk to….”
Neither mean harm. In fact, they’re trying to help, but if intrapreneurs aren’t careful, The Protector will edit their work into something that is neither different nor value creating, and The Enthusiast will suffocate them with meetings.
4 More Innovation Derailers
Being “loved to death,” is just one of ways I’ve seen corporate innovation efforts get derailed. Here are the others:
Performances for senior executives. Yes, it’s important to meet regularly with senior leaders to keep them apprised of progress, learnings, results, and next steps. But there’s a fine line between updating executives because they’re investors and conference room performances to show off shiny objects and excite executives. It takes time for innovation teams to prepare for meetings (one team I worked with spent over 100 hours preparing for a meeting) which is time they aren’t spending working, learning, and making progress.
Key points include:
- Evolve what you measure when
- Use transparency to build support and let experience drive progress
- Base incentives on the core business and innovation objectives.
Read the full article, 5 Innovation Derailers (And What To Do Instead), on Milezero.io.
Welcoming new member Adam Anderson
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Adam Anderson. Adam has led and participated in over a hundred consulting projects at McKinsey, Accenture, KPMG and on his own. He has also spent over 10 years as CFO, CEO, board member and chairman of the board. His industry experience is wide, with most time in financial services and manufacturing. His specialty is rapid and radical improvement of key metrics, for example revenue and income. A strategy expert, he has also worked in finance, marketing, operations, and IT. Projects have taken him to the US (East Coast, West Coast and some in between) and Europe (Western, Eastern, Northern, and Central).
Adam has an MBA from Stanford, Engineering BS from MIT, and an IB from Atlantic College in the UK. He is fluent in English and Polish and familiar with five other languages. Adam lives near Warsaw, with his wife and son. He is a certified pilot, scuba diver, lifeguard, and sailor. He leads an active lifestyle: hiking, cycling, kayaking, swimming, skiing, mountaineering, sailing, riding horses. He has travelled through dozens of countries on all continents except Australia. Interested in history, art, books, politics, and nature.
Four Steps to Make Change Happen
With the pandemic slowing the pace in how we live and work, many of us may feel stuck. Luckily, Mike Ross shares a quick tip to help set movement in motion.
I’m lucky to spend a lot of my time working with highly intelligent, motivated people; helping them think through decisions for themselves and their organizations. Some big decisions, some small ones, but these conversations often share a striking similarity – the people I’m speaking with usually already know what to do.
They know the answer. They’re just stuck.
And what makes them stuck is fear. Fear of getting it wrong, of making a mistake, of screwing something up and regretting it. And they come to me (and people like me) to validate their ideas. Sometimes we find a piece of evidence or a fact that they overlooked that helps them to re-think their idea and chart a new path, but in many cases, they would be just as well served by trying their ideas out (on a small scale to begin with) and learning as they go. And that’s usually the advice that I give them. Try it and see.
They don’t really need a consultant or an adviser or coach. They just need the starting point of a plan and permission to move.
So here’s a quick hit to help you get unstuck…
Key points include:
- Tackling risk
- Gathering ideas
- Breaking through fear
Read the full post, Permission to Change, on LinkedIn.
Welcoming new member Tanaka Chiimba
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Tanaka Chiimba with Impact Strategy Consulting. Tanaka possesses 15 years of management consulting experience. After qualifying as a Chartered Accountant with Deloitte and Touche, she cut her teeth in consulting at McKinsey and Company where she spent 7 years serving leaders of mining, energy, infrastructure and public sector (education and tax administration) institutions across a broad range of topics.
Tanaka likes to be considered as more of a generalist. She is drawn to opportunities where there is value add or turnaround potential. Her ability to sift through complexity very quickly to generate insights or tell the story coupled with her entrepreneurial spirit has resulted in an individual with the unique ability to network, transfer insights across sectors and geographies and deliver tangible value add. After leaving McKinsey, Tanaka successfully founded a professional services firm, (comprised 4 divisions: consulting, people (training and outsourcing), technology and engineering), which at her exit, 5 years later, was worth over £10 million with over 100 staff.
Identify your core network
In a book that I recommend every consultant read, The Irresistible Consultant’s Guide to Winning Clients: 6 Steps to Unlimited Clients & Financial Freedom, David A. Fields explains how to identify your core network.
This is a useful exercise. If you go through the steps, you’ll almost certainly find names you had forgotten about who you’ll want to reach out to.
Once you’ve identified your core network, you can establish at what periodicity you want to reach out to each person on your list. (Try quarterly for the A1s and at least annually for the B1s and A2s.)
Since I often find myself on calls suggesting that people follow David’s approach, I decided to publish a podcast episode summarizing what I learned from David’s book and our discussions. Check out Episode 357 of Unleashed.
By the way, definitely sign up to get David’s blog posts by email. Great tips every week.
Big Ideas from a Small Business
In this article for Forbes, Stephen Wunker reveals how this small business led the charge in innovation, safety, and customer service during the height of the pandemic.
You might not think of an auto body shop as a hotbed of business innovation – but you’d be quite mistaken. Consider the story of one small chain that shows how businesses can go on offense during the coronavirus pandemic, seizing the initiative to remake customer experience, business relationships, and competitive position. This is how one company made its Great Reboot happen.
Today’s Collision, a 64-employee chain of three auto body shops based in the Boston suburb of Malden, saw the pandemic happen at an unfortunate time. Boston had a relatively mild winter with little snow, and – sorry to tell you – auto body shops expect people to have more accidents when the weather is nasty. However, owner Bobby Cobb had a realization: if the winter was tough for his relatively well-capitalized company, it must have much harder for the mom-and-pop firms that were already just eking by. As the coronavirus hit and the plummeting level of road traffic foretold still fewer collisions, Cobb knew that shops across the industry faced dire circumstances. For him, this was the time to seize the initiative.
Key points include:
- Changing the customer experience
- Expanding your business partnerships
- Seizing market share from weaker rivals
Read the full article, How a Local Business got on the Front Foot during COVID, on Forbes.
Welcoming new member Samantha O’Neill
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Samantha O’Neill. Samantha is an independent consultant with expertise in Marketing, Digital strategy and Customer Experience. She was most recently the Chief Marketing Officer for Sun Life Canada where she ran a broad portfolio including Marketing, Customer strategy, the Digital properties (from the strategy through development), and the newly built Customer Experience capabilities.
Prior to Sun Life, she was with LoyaltyOne and ran their Analytics function, serving Air Miles’ Partners with advanced analytics to support their Marketing and Merchandising strategies. Before she joined LoyaltyOne, Samantha spent 7 years at McKinsey, serving Retailers and Financial Institutions. Samantha is also CPA (CA).
She lives in Toronto with her husband and 3 tween/teen children. She just recently returned to consulting and is looking to collaborate on projects in the Marketing, Digital and CX space though she also has extensive experience in Transformation and Change and in Insurance and Wealth.
Nailing the Tagline
Jonathan Paisner shares an evergreen post on what it takes to make a good tagline for your business.
How do we capture the essence of our brand in a handful of words?
This sounds hard. That’s because it really isn’t the right question to be asking.
Better: What brief phrase can strengthen and deepen understanding of our brand?
You can’t say it all. Don’t try.
Name, logo and tagline partner to communicate the essence of the brand.
What you don’t want to do is say the same thing across all three assets (i.e. a company called Speed with an arrow for a logo, plus the tagline “Faster is better.”). What’s the point of that? It’s not only a missed opportunity to tell other parts of the story; it reduces the needs of your customers to single dimension – and positions you for irrelevance if and when the better mousetrap comes along.
Your tagline does not exist in a vacuum.
A FEW TIPS AS YOU EMBARK ON THE ROAD TO A NEW TAGLINE:
#1 Begin with a brand platform.
Creating a tagline without a strategic foundation risks internal dissent and external confusion. Know what you are trying to say before you look for memorable and meaningful ways to say it. The brand platform serves as both guide and filter to what you say and to the tone you use in expressing it. Great taglines ring true – and the platform will clarify exactly what it is you are being true to.
Key points include:
- Understanding what a tagline is and what it isn’t
- Keeping the bigger picture in mind
- Avoiding buzzwords
Read the full article, What Makes a Good Tagline, on BrandExperienced.com.
Welcoming new member Yacine Berdjeghloul
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Yacine Berdjeghloul with Wolfinance Consulting. Yacine is a bright Risk professional with a strong academic background and technical experience in modelling & coding. He has a high interest in solving complex issues, is self-motivated and entrepreneurial. He was among the top 5% of his Bachelor’s and in his previous job was presented the GE Award for “Inclusiveness” and “Expertise”. Alongside his technical capability, Yacine is an excellent communicator with a natural ability to establish rapport. Living in the Netherlands, he enjoys nature, movies and spending time with his family. His favourite animal is, you might have guessed, the Wolf. The Wolf is a symbol of guardianship, instinct, loyalty, and spirit.
The Wolf represents strong connection with instincts and intuition, high intelligence and communication – qualities we all should aspire to.
How to Make the Most of these Mega-trends
Sean McCoy identifies key steps a business may take to alter the operation model and improve productivity.
We are in the initial stages of a productivity mega-trend. Forced by wage growth and enabled by technology, leading companies are already redesigning their operating models to make their people more productive.
The forces creating the productivity mega-trend
Wages are rising and look set to continue rising. Labor’s share of GDP is at a 90-year low, and we are seeing a reversion to long-run historical averages. 20 states raised their minimum wages in 2018, impacting 17M workers, over 10% of the country’s workforce. New technologies are radically re-shaping the processing of data and the interacting with prospects, leads, and customers. Repetitive work is being automated, and customer engagement is going digital. Extend the evolution of these two trends, wage growth and new technologies, and a firm can expect to experience one of two outcomes over the next business cycle: margin dilution or productivity growth.
How to join the productivity mega-trend
The first step to participate in the productivity mega-trend is to understand which of your business functions will be impacted. Functions with large spans of control and a large share of entry-level positions will be affected the most by wage growth. Functions where “data shuffling” is a common activity will be affected by automation technologies. Customer-facing functions will be impacted by the new customer-experience technologies. When listing functions that meet two or three of those criteria, at the top are functions such as inside sales, customer care, and customer service, and corporate functions such as Accounting, Finance, and HR.
Key points include:
- Wage increases
- How leads and customers interact with business
- Shifts from strategy to execution
Read the full article, The Productivity Mega-trend You Can’t Ignore, on McCoyConsultingGroup.com.
Welcoming new member Jacqueline McDevitt Gowen
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Jacqueline McDevitt Gowen with BIZYIST. Jacqueline is currently running her own strategy consulting practice, BIZYIST. Jackie is a former McKinsey & Company Engagement Manager/Associate from the New York Office. She focused on strategic, organizational and financial advisory projects there and was known for ability to turnaround complex and struggling engagements. Prior to McKinsey, Jackie led the corporate finance and investor relations departments at MCG Capital. As an Assistant Vice President and public company officer, she managed a $900M portfolio of middle market investments.
Jackie began her career at Citi as part of the strategic planning team and advanced to a Business Unit Manager in their Banking, Capital Markets & Advisory division. Jackie earned her MBA at Harvard Business School and her BA in International Studies at Johns Hopkins University.
The “Forever Promise” in Education
Robbie Baxter brings the subscription-based business model to education and shares how it can benefit from the Membership Economy.
The past year has been a difficult one for schools. It sometimes seems like everything’s in flux.
Many families have changed strategies. Some have left traditional schools to join neighborhood pods. Others have gone from independent schools to public schools to save money. At the same time, some public school families have gone private, fleeing the chaos of the public school system. And, to make things more complicated, some students have moved out of the area, but are still learning virtually from their original school.
Schools are left wondering—will the students who left come back? Will the new families stay beyond this year? And is virtual learning going to be part of our new normal?
In this uncertain time, loyalty has never been more important.
I’ve devoted much of my career to helping organizations build loyalty, building the kind of “forever transactions” that justify predictable recurring revenue.
So the question is, does what I’ve learned working with subscription businesses and membership organizations apply at schools?
My answer is yes…and I’ll show you why. But first, let me tell you how I came to be so interested in this question of how organizations build loyalty so deep and so trusted, that customers take off the consumer hats, don their membership hats and stop looking for alternatives.
Key points include:
- Defining the promise
- Retaining loyalty
- Connecting with superusers
Read the full article, What Public, Private & Independent Schools Can Learn about Membership from Silicon Valley Subscription Companies., on LinkedIn.
Ryan Holiday’s 100 Rules of Life
This list of 100 Rules of Life from Ryan Holiday has some real gems. A few of my favorites:
28. Do the verb, rather than being the noun.
39. When evaluating an opportunity, ask yourself: What will teach me the most?
62. Belief in yourself is overrated. Generate evidence.
87. Have unrelated hobbies.
Welcoming new member Mikael Anjou
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Mikael Anjou with Förändringstid. Mikael is as an independent advisor helping clients in the construction sector at large to improve and transform their business to high productivity and efficiency. Besides being an advisor and board member, Mikael is also well-known in the sector for his book “The inefficient construction sector – an agenda for renewal” and a speaker / lecturer on topics related to transformation of the construction industry.
Prior to this, Mikael has had a long career as line manager, including being CEO of Einar Mattsson Construction and Einar Mattsson Project Development (Einar Mattsson being Stockholm’s largest privately held residential property owner and a large project developer and construction company in the region). Previously, Mikael has also been a consultant for close to 7 yrs with McKinsey & Co.
Mikael is happy to share experience from the construction sector and to collaborate on projects related to this area.
If you have difficulty describing what it is you do to clients, Anna Engstromer’s post will help clarify and communicate the value and benefits of your services.
Much value of consulting can be decoded and applied in organizations, limiting the need to actually hire them and – hopefully – rendering work more challenging and rewarding.
I’ve served perhaps four dozen clients on almost the same number of topics, over a dozen years, across a dozen countries. Apart from a few basic trainings, I wasn’t really taught how to do it, but instead learned on the job, from and with colleagues and clients. Accenture Partners and client staff helped me pick up on value generation, developing people and effective and efficient ways of working. McKinsey colleagues and client executives helped me sharpen the expression of problems, findings and results. The people working on either side aren’t, in my mind, much different.
I’ve worked in organizations too, in different roles and always with a great degree of change. I’ve engaged, worked with, evaluated, extended and stopped consulting engagements. I see patterns of what consultants do well in organizations and how organizations can engage consultants better. There is waste in hiring consultants in poorly fitting ways, and there is lost opportunity in not expecting “consulting-like action” from employees.
I think much of the value of consulting comes from the situation of having new people come in and purposefully address a problem. The dynamic of that situation creates a momentum and an expectation that consultant-client teams deliver on, not just because they can but because they have to. What happens after a project sometimes disappoints, for a number of reasons, one being the loss of that momentum and specific expectation.
I believe much of the value of consulting can be decoded and applied in organizations, limiting the need to actually hire them and – hopefully – rendering work more challenging and rewarding.
Key points include:
- Defining the problem
- Fitting activities onto their purpose
- Sharpening communication
Read the full article, De-mystifying Consulting, on Engstromer.com.
Welcoming new member Francesca Muller
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Francesca Muller with Francesca Muller Ltd. Francesca started her career as a senior associate at McKinsey, where she worked in the media practice in New York and then London. She has been working as an independent consultant since 2004, leading growth strategy and transformation projects across a range of sectors including healthcare, financial services, environmental, B2B and industrial services.
She has a BA and JD from Harvard University and currently lives in London with her husband and two children.
How to Find a Data Analyst You Can Trust
In this evergreen and ever useful post from Christophe de Greift, he provides the key questions an executive should ask a data analyst to ensure they can deliver what is required.
Voice recognition, interview robots, real-time movie recommendations, advanced data analytics are a part of our everyday lives and cannot be ignored by the 21st century manager. The potential benefits for the company are found along the chain of value, from purchases to after-sales, through talent management.
To reap these benefits, an organization must develop diverse capabilities in data management, analytics and planning for example. Each of those capabilities represents a challenge in itself, but I would like to address another major obstacle to adopting advanced analytics in this article: executive confidence in the outcome. Indeed, the most valuable algorithms such as ‘deep learning’ in artificial intelligence are also the least understood, generating a natural fear of misuse that an executive must overcome before being able to properly use those tools.
Hiring the best scientist is not enough to avoid going from artificial intelligence to artificial stupidity, since the knowledge and business judgment of the senior executive is essential in the decision-making process supported by data analysis.
I learned during my years of consulting that asking the right questions is complex but powerful… Therefore, I recommend a list of questions for the executive to ask throughout the decision-making process, from problem conceptualization to conclusion.
Key questions include:
- How do we ensure random selection of data?
- Using what criteria do we filter inconsistent or atypical data?
- Why is the algorithm used the most suitable?
Read the full article, 10 Questions to Trust a Data Analyst, on Christophedegreift.com.
Welcoming new member Rudolf Luerzer
Umbrex is pleased to welcome Umbrex is pleased to welcome Rudolf Luerzer with GCN Consulting. Rudolf spent three years in the insurance practice at McKinsey and has been running his own consulting firm focused on consulting, training and coaching services for the top management in the (financial) services industry since 1990. Rudolf has lead major strategy and restructuring projects in (re-) insurance and other service industries.
He lives in Vorarlberg, Austria with his wife and enjoys travelling in Asia and the Americas whenever possible. Rudolf is happy to collaborate on projects in the (re-) insurance industry in Europe and in projects in collaboration with NGOs.
How to Start Strong and Close the Deal
In this week’s post from David A. Fields, he offers stellar advice and two simple, yet powerful tips to help consultants make a positive impression within the first five minutes of a meeting.
The initial few minutes of every client meeting present your consulting firm with a unique opportunity. Will you let it slip by unnoticed, or create a regular, business-building habit to maximize that time?
Let’s say that next Tuesday you’re scheduled to deliver a regular, periodic project update to your consulting firm’s client, Gridlock Enterprises. You’re joined for the half-hour Zoom meeting every month by Gridlock’s Chief Obstruction Officer, Philip A. Buster.
Typically, you dive into an update of the progress you’ve made on your consulting project for Gridlock, note the next steps, solicit feedback Phil may have heard from his team, then confirm the next month’s call before signing off.
For your next meeting with Phil, though, you’ll kick off the meeting differently. Better. You’ll use two simple and powerful techniques:
Key points include:
- The right-side up meeting intro
- The connection carveout
- Unforgettable stick figures
Read the full post, You Did What?! The Ideal, First 5 Minutes Of Every Consulting Meeting, on DavidAFields.com.
Key Steps to Developing the Personal Brand
Susan Hamilton Meier was recently interviewed on The Whole Person Podcast with Evan Herrman where they discussed everything from building a brand with values and creativity, to those important life lessons we’ve learned in our careers.
In the world of social media, and instant, easy communication. we ourselves are building our own brands, whether or not we’re actually entrepreneurs. And so if we’re starting a business, or we have a business, the first thing to think about is, you know, how does my own brand dovetail with the brand of my business. And if it’s a one person show, it’s often one in the same. Um, so the first thing I do, and I do work a lot with entrepreneurs and small and growing companies, as well as really large companies. And what’s interesting is, the advice is really the same. I really encourage people as the first step is self reflection. So self awareness and self knowledge, right? Because you need to build your brand around something that’s genuine, for a couple of reasons. One is that, you know, if you just make something up and it’s not true to who you are, your audience feels that right away and they won’t connect with it or resonate with it or pay attention to it. And secondly, for your own benefit. You know, if you’re going to show up every day and do something, it had better be aligned with who you are, what you’re passionate about where your values are otherwise you’re not going to want to do it for very long, and you’re not going to be very good at it. So that’s always the best first place to start.
And then there’s other parts to that journey.
Key points include:
- How to develop self-reflection
- How to determine motivating values
- Values exercises
Listen to the full episode, Self-Reflection for Personal Branding, on The Whole Person Podcast.
An Informative Infographic on Pricing
Ian Tidswell shares pricing information on creating and capturing value in an informative infographic.
Success in the Medical Technology industry requires constant innovation. However, capturing a fair share of the value (pricing) from that innovation throughout the product life cycle is especially challenging given multiple market access hurdles, constrained healthcare budgets, and diverse stakeholders.
The infographic below outlines the 6 steps to creating and capturing value in MedTech, from offering design through market access and reimbursement approval to new product transitions. Each step highlights some of the key concepts and tools.
These steps will be discussed in detail during the EPP Virtual Live MedTech Pricing training March 25-26 2021. Covering both industry-wide challenges and your specific improvement opportunities, you’ll leave with an understanding of how leading companies are achieving success with pricing, and the confidence to tackle all your pricing challenges.
Key points identified include:
- Market access with value recognised
- Value delivered and captured
- Segment and target buyers
- Gain effective market access
Read the full article and access the infographic, 6 Key Steps to create & capture value in MedTech: Infographic and Online Training March 25-26 2021, on Eenconsulting.com.
How to Become a Champion of Change
Caroline Taich shares a post on change and the skills you need to drive it forward.
In this blog, we have been exploring the McKinsey model for change. Last week I wrote about conviction as a driver of change. This week I’m thinking about the skills you need for change. Here is a big one – the ability to see your unique strengths.
This came up during the wonderful opportunity I had to learn from Councilman Matt Zone. Councilman Zone serves Ward 15, which includes Cleveland’s Detroit Shoreway neighborhood. Despite its strong roots, the 1960s brought de-industrialization to Detroit Shoreway, and the area began to decline. Matt Zone’s leadership helped revive the neighborhood, beginning in 2004 with the vision for the Gordon Square Arts District. Major reinvestment in the community, including 5 major capital projects totaling $30M, led to economic growth and neighborhood beautification that is celebrated here and around the world (read more here).
Councilman Zone stressed that one of the most important keys for change was to focus on Detroit Shoreway’s unique strengths. But, how do you identify these unique strengths? Here are two of my favorite approaches.
Story-telling approach. Go talk to people and gather stories of impact. For example, you can ask others, ‘When have you felt most proud of this neighborhood?’ Ask for a specific story, and then probe on the details that made the experience memorable.
Key points include:
- Identifying unique strengths
- Story-telling approach
- Analytical approach
Read the full post, Identify Unique Strengths to Drive Change, on KirtlandConsulting.com.