Welcome to HighLights – The Changing Shape of Consulting

Thanks for stopping by HighPoint Associates’ new HighLights blog. My colleagues and I will be using this space to share our views on the day’s biggest business issues and the critical challenges our customers face. We’ll also spend time discussing disruption, highlighting the new approaches companies are taking to solving their business challenges.

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EPMO discussing enterprise-wide initiatives in a pandemic

Agile Strategy

Mention strategy development and most CEOs grit their teeth, imagining months of analysis led by corps of consultants, often with significant cost and a result that doesn’t match where the company and its senior team really sees itself going.

Sadly, many CEOs don’t have a lot of confidence in their strategy. According to a 2013 Booz & Company survey of more than 3,500 global leaders, over half doubt their company’s strategy will lead to success or think their strategy is understood by employees and customers. Even more alarming, only a third feel that their company’s core capabilities fully support their strategy.

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How Technology Is Driving Role Changes in the C-Suite

A wave of changing technologies continues to bombard companies at an accelerating rate. Emerging and expanding technologies such as the cloud, big data, business analytics and intelligence, and HTML5, all will have enormous implications for how companies deploy, use and manage information.

How well companies surf the wave will have a significant impact on their future success.

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Can You Keep Overhead Cut?

It’s a classic command from top management. Need to reduce overhead? Just cut 10 percent.

How can a company successfully reduce costs and overhead, and keep it cut? Look no further than a process developed almost four decades ago: the AVA.

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Why Building Trust Should be a Corporate Priority

It’s not enough to be the best at your business anymore. No matter how great your product or esteemed your expertise, to earn business today your customers want to feel that you are a “Trusted Advisor.”

In his more than 45 years of consulting and executive management, Jim Bennett, a Senior Advisor to HighPoint Associates, has seen a significant shift in client and customer mindsets. “Clients want to know that you and your company’s interests are deeply aligned with theirs and that you are highly motivated by their success. They want to know they can count on you to listen to their issues and not just rush to offer a solution.”

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When Should You Hire an Interim Executive?

Getting good help represents a Board-level headache. Reading the financial press, it may seem that CXOs come and go with the frequency of jetliners at O’Hare International. While executive churn does not merit that comparison, C-suite turnover is commonplace, with a new wave of executive musical chairs ensuing after the 2008 recession.

Many reasons can lead to job vacancies. Someone gets a better position. Someone gets caught with his or her hands in the wrong places. Someone decides to found his or her own company. Someone was hired to do one job, but the company’s needs changed. Someone goes to sleep – or worse – on the job. As a result, boards and private equity owners may find themselves scrambling to fill key management positions.

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How Can Brand Strategy Turn Your Brand into a Religion?

Ben Bidlack’s approach to investing in brand strategy is robustly simple. Effective brands engage their internal and external audiences, transforming them into ardent fans. If brand religion is the goal, Bidlack’s approach to brand building is anything but mystical. He starts with a hard, nakedly honest assessment of a company’s actual position in the world. He extends the assessment outward to the full set of competitive brands and offerings, and inward into the mindset and needs of prospects. The challenge is to develop the one, possibly two, emotionally compelling and overarching brand strategies that account for insights in all three areas: company capabilities/culture, competition and customers. And finally, he helps the company express that single brand idea, and deliver on that promise, through every pore of the organization.

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Strategy Pandemic Pivoting

How Can Turnaround Professionals Make Things Happen?

Turnaround artists are both respected and feared in the management field. You often learn a company is in trouble when the turnaround artist arrives. Everybody in the company expects a shakeup. Send out the resumes, the sheriff just rode into town. Neil Minihane chuckles at the image of the turnaround artist as somebody with a short temper and a bad attitude. A West Point graduate who still gets up early and wears a high-and-tight haircut, Minihane insists, “I’m a turnaround guy. Not a turnaround artist. Not a turnaround expert. Just a turnaround guy.” In other words, he’s a normal human being with a job to do.

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What Does Lean Manufacturing Really Mean?

What does “Lean Manufacturing” mean? What does it take to implement Lean Manufacturing? And is “Lean Manufacturing” necessarily “mean manufacturing” as critics of this zero waste approach to making things have suggested? In this article, InSights talks with Joachim Fischer, a life-long practitioner of the art of Lean Manufacturing, to explore the answers to these questions.

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Does Your Strategy Hold Up Under Pressure?

The CEO develops strategy,
the Board approves it.
Well, not quite.
Not any more anyway.

Why? Corporate directors have long had the responsibility of seeking to assure the long-term viability of the companies they serve, specifically to maximize long-term value. While this standard has been in existence for decades, its application is shifting rapidly. Boards are increasingly seeking to understand not only what their companies are doing, but also why those things are being done. And they want to contribute their own ideas.

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