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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How Do Successful Retailers Deal with Economic Ups and Downs?

Consumer-focused companies, such as retailers and consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies, experience good times and bad times. Yet some companies seem to consistently outperform their peers regardless of economic conditions. Recognizing this anomaly, HighPoint InSights posed the following question to HighPoint’s retailing expert Karen Schwichtenberg:

What do high-performing retailers do well, regardless of economic conditions?

Schwichtenberg responds by outlining three simple, yet profound principles.

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How Can You Get More ROI from Your IT Investments?

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems have gotten a bad reputation, as have CRM, HR and data warehouse projects. Most CFOs will tell you that large-scale IT projects always cost more than budgeted, seldom deliver on their promises, and often falter or fail before they go live. Further, the big companies that make enterprise software, such as SAP and Oracle, extract enormous profits for themselves and their consulting partners.

Bob Kaplan, Senior Advisor for HighPoint Associates comments, “When you look at academic studies, what you see is that for the past twenty years people have been writing papers on how the vast majority of big-scale IT projects either come in way over budget, under deliver, or just completely fall apart.” Does Big IT really deserve its bad rap?

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How Can You Make Strategic Sourcing Strategic?

Strategic sourcing is not just another term for “beat up your suppliers.” In fact, when fully and properly deployed, the goal of strategic sourcing is competitive advantage first, cost considerations second. Yet in many corporations, strategic sourcing simply equates to getting the best price at any cost. An unrelenting focus on numbers sidelines the pursuit of strategic advantage. This kind of misguided strategic sourcing preempts taking advantage of a true strategic approach.

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Does Strategy-Making Have to Be All That Complicated?

When corporate executives hear the term “strategy-making,” many of them reach for the aspirin. Strategy-making conjures images of massive data analysis efforts, indecipherable PowerPoint decks, and money spent on people who at the end of the day don’t typically get it right. And by the way, where are the results?

In this article, James E. Bennett shares his life-tested, client confirmed views on how to make better strategic decisions by organizing all strategic thinking under the umbrella of institutional strategy. Institutional strategy is not a specific set of tools or techniques. Rather, it’s a way of approaching strategy-making from the executive level. It is not so much a tool kit as it is a matter of perspective.

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