Fall 2015 TayganPoint Newsletter - Q3
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The Strategy Issue

As the leaves turn and the days shorten we are reminded that the year is slowly beginning to wind down.  From a business perspective fall also begins the process of planning for the year to come.  What will define your course as you move towards your 2016 future state?  What changes are required to accomplish the goals you set?  And what exactly are those goals, anyway?    Do you have a strategy?

The word strategy seems to find us at every turn - casually thrown around in a myriad of conversations - strategic vision, strategic mission, strategy alignment and execution.  While it has crept into our vernacular, if you don't know where you want to go or what you want to look like, then perhaps it is time to examine the need for a strategic vision.

In this quarter’s TayganPoint Newsletter, we explore this topic through a variety of lenses. In our first, and most entertainingly named article, “Yogi Berra and The Chinese Warrior”, we take a look at developing a winning R&D strategy. The piece, “Why I Care About Strategy Execution & Why You Should Too”, sheds light on both the challenges and importance of execution.  And finally, in the article, “The IT Strategy Monograph”, we provide guidance on evolving strategically through an IT Shared Services organization.
We hope you find these articles both insightful and inspirational as you make strides toward developing your strategy for the coming year.  As always, TayganPoint is committed to helping you transform your business, working collaboratively alongside you to help you make strategy happen.
Joy Taylor & John Cassimatis
Co-Founders, TayganPoint Consulting Group
Yogi Berra and The Chinese Warrior: Developing a Winning R&D Strategy
By Mark Lane, Consultant, TayganPoint

"If you don’t know where you are going you might end up someplace else"   -Yogi Berra
“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”   ― Sun Tzu Chinese Warrior & Strategist
Can Yogi Berra and Sun Tzu help in crafting a winning R&D strategy in today’s fast-paced, ever-changing Life Science industry? Will their words of wisdom help companies manage the challenges they are facing with rising costs, an evolving customer landscape, the need for sustainable innovation and an increasingly complex regulatory environment? Their advice as well as a few other key elements can help in developing R&D strategies at the organization, function and product level.
We will return to Yogi and the Warrior later, but first lets talk strategy.  Strategy bridges the gap between high-level goals and the tactics necessary to deliver.  It provides a clear roadmap of guiding principles that help define the actions people in the business should take (or avoid) and the things they should prioritize (or deprioritize) to achieve desired goals. Though often complex in practice, the key elements of crafting a strategy, specifically in R&D, can be broken down into 5 simple questions:
1.  What is the overarching vision or goal you are trying to achieve?
Following Yogi’s advice, you must first know where you are going. Your vision or goal needs to be crystal clear and most importantly all key stakeholders or team members need to be aligned and share a common view of what is to be achieved. An example from Life Science R&D is the importance of setting and aligning the development team to a clear product vision such as “product X will be the treatment of choice for patients with rheumatoid arthritis”.
2.  What does success look like?
Continuing our product development example, defining success criteria is typically captured in what most would recognize as the target product profile. What performance characteristics are most critical to achieving the goal of the treatment of choice? Focus on those key “criticals to quality” that drive success.  For the drug in development these might include a certain dose range, ease of administration or pricing, among others.  Non-product settings might include improving operational efficiency by some agreed percentage or reducing the cycle time in transferring a product from research to development.
3.  What business objectives and constraints must be considered?
These differ from high-level goals or outcomes in that they establish important limits and boundaries.  Examples might include launching a new product or initiative in a specified time frame or not exceeding a certain budget or headcount target when implementing a new organizational structure.  Constraints such as these represent important considerations to keep in mind when developing both the overall strategy and the plans for delivery.
4.  What key unanswered questions need to be addressed?
These represent areas of uncertainty or gaps in knowledge that need to be identified and managed to inform strategic options, drive decision making or provide alternative tactical scenarios.  For example, conducting a study to understand whether a drug can be administered subcutaneously to patients could drive important decisions or options in the development program.
5.  What is the plan or roadmap for delivering the strategy?
Enter the Chinese warrior and another quote “Plans are nothing, planning is everything” ------Dwight D Eisenhower.
Focus on the planning process and not the budget or Gantt chart. Resist the temptation of ready----fire---aim”, rather spend the time to articulate and gain alignment on what it takes to win and how you will deliver before you enter the battle. What are the key deliverables, how will these be executed, are there any interdependencies, what budget and resources are needed and when?   Entering battle (starting work) before you have fully prepared to win will end in defeat.
To be successful, your newly formed strategy needs to drive behaviors throughout the organization.  Making strategy happen requires more than a presentation at a company meeting or a set of bullets on the company website.  In order to win, the strategy must become part of your organization’s DNA - something people use to drive decision-making, allocate resources and prioritize their work on a daily basis.
To talk more about how you can make strategy happen within your own organization, please feel free to reach out to me:  I look forward to continuing the conversation.
Why I Care About Strategy Execution & Why You Should Too

By Amy Flynn, Principal Consultant, TayganPoint

If you are a C-suite reader, then strategy execution is what makes your dreams come true.

If you are not in the C-suite, then strategy execution is simply what you do every day.  
While corporate strategy answers the question "What business should we be in?" and business strategy answers the question "How shall we compete in this business?” strategy execution doesn’t answer a question at all - it just gets the job done.

A good strategy results in clear objectives and boundaries, concrete decisions around whether to invest, divest, improve, remove, develop, or simply maintain. It is through strategy execution that these decisions become reality, and the business is able to realize the value the strategy was intended to deliver.

Despite vast sums of money and a significant amount of senior level time and energy invested in business strategy every year, research suggests that only about 30 percent of organizations are good at seizing new, strategic opportunities. Since SWOT was first introduced in the 1950’s, the most common strategy tools help businesses with their strategic thinking process but not their execution because there is an underlying assumption that failure is due to poor “thinking” not poor “doing”. The reality is that this area of strategy execution has, until recently, been ignored by strategists, management and business schools, or carelessly lumped in the bucket of operations. There is often a strong operations touch point with strategy execution, a need to improve efficiency or control costs to gain competitive positioning, but there is also much more.

In between the strategic thinkers and business operations sits a critical role, ensuring the top-down meets the bottom-up. The role may be filled by managers within each function, by a separate strategy realization office, or by existing centers of excellence and project management offices. The key is the clear and distinct assignment of responsibility for strategy alignment, change management and communication, as well as program and project leadership, as they relate to implementing the business strategy.

Strategy Alignment – At its most basic level, the organization needs to be aligned. Objectives must be coordinated.  And functions must establish the corresponding initiatives to ensure competency. In order to align with a business strategy, functions need to make some tough choices around priorities – curtailing pet projects, being honest about areas for staff development and missing core competencies, and restructuring or shifting responsibilities.
Functional strategy alignment must include the following;
  1. Functional vision, mission, values and strategic time frame
  2. 3-5 areas of focus with tangible goals covering people, process, systems, financial performance etc.
  3. Priority initiatives, including “stop” initiatives
Change Management and Communication – To succeed, the strategy must be understood by every individual in the organization.  However, the implications of the strategy may be vastly different from function to function and level to level. Change management for strategy execution begins by helping leaders at all levels understand, for each implementation stage, how to build the case for change and how to overcome resistance as you build motivation.  Proper change management ensures appropriate structures and tactics are developed to execute the change.
A Change Management program for strategy execution must include the following:
  1. Creation of a vision and environment for the change among functional leaders throughout the organization.
  2. Management of stakeholders through the personal transitions that allow individuals and teams to move to the desired state.
  3. Education, training and communication tailored to the needs of every level of the organization.
Program and Project Leadership – Successful execution requires a deep understanding of the big picture; a deep appreciation of, and attention to, the details; and complete clarity about the programs and projects that connect the two.  The responsibilities within program and project leadership cover the detailed management of projects through the oversight of the full portfolio.
These responsibilities include:
  1. Overall management of the portfolio of strategic initiatives including prioritization, metrics and reporting.
  2. Governance of the portfolio needs includes the processes and decision hierarchy for project approval and resourcing
  3. Strong Project Management culture is critical to successful strategy execution. Project Management brings consistent processes and tools for milestone management, resourcing, planning and tracking activities and deliverable, and project reporting that ensure projects stay on track, aligned and satisfy overall strategic objectives.
Despite years of attention and energy building strategy development processes and tools, the ability for organizations to deliver the value intended has shifted very little. A new focus on strategy execution is a critical imperative. The organization's ability to quickly and effectively execute strategic plans and decisions will be a key differentiator between those companies that thrive and those that languish.

Want to learn more about how Strategy Execution can positively impact your business?  I'd love to keep the conversation going. Please feel free to contact me at 
The IT Strategy Monograph:  Evolving Strategically with IT Shared Services

By Jon Hunt, Sr. Consultant, TayganPoint

Top CIOs have come to understand the need to materially contribute to shareholder value.  As this role continues to evolve IT services from “parity function status” to "strategic enterprise partner", even greater attention has been placed on security issues and staying current with hot technologies.
Beyond the ‘hot-button’ topics of mobility, analytics and big data, as well as the various cloud platforms available, what is often overlooked is the potential for the technology function to drive strategic advantage through IT shared services programs.  Accomplishing this requires thoughtful planning and execution at every step of the shared services life cycle, including:
  • Completing a feasibility study
  • Constructing a business case
  • Designing an operating model
  • Gaining leadership consensus and approval
  • Sizing the team and developing talent acquisition
  • Selecting a location
  • Managing property decisions, i.e., constructing new facilities; leasing existing ones; divesting unwanted ones
  • Designing service management
  • Recruiting, hiring, launching
  • Conducting knowledge transfer and change management
  • Operating and maintaining service levels
  • Conducting continuous improvement
 Following is some guidance on how to drive strategic advantage in a few of these phases:
Feasibility Study, including Business Case:  Most IT shared services business cases revolve around typical SLA measures including service levels, security, availability, and cost.  Instead, consider emphasizing the strategic factors in your business case.   Speed to Market - showing IT as a change agent for end-to-end process improvement.  Regulatory Compliance - with IT leading related Centers of Excellence (e.g. HIPAA).  Product Excellence and Quality - impacting concept to offer processes by introducing tangible product innovation.
Operating Model Design:  Consider elevating from “shared services operations” to “enterprise technology service brokerage.”  Lead the effort at forging collaborative relationships with Partners and third party technology vendors impacting product innovation and enhanced security of corporate digital assets.  If occupying this role is not feasible in your current situation, consider representing this point of view forcefully in the planning process or developing closer ties with and impact on Procurement or Partner Development Management functions.
Gaining Executive Approvals:  Going for approvals?  Proposing cost and service benefits is table stakes.  To raise the level, understand and clearly articulate the strategic factors in your business case, citing specific qualitative benefits.  Demonstrate their magnitude and impact as well as define how and when you will deliver them.  Show that qualitative benefits are a reasonable and likely outcome of your roadmap and plans.  Illustrate that these benefits map to specific milestones and deliverables.  Include a post implementation review step in your plans, and follow through with it, gaining credibility for future phases.
Location Selection:  Locate work spaces - owned, partnered, or contracted, near your talent!  Identify best locations for sourcing candidates with skills and talent meeting your priority requirements, both current and emerging.  Utilize public information to gain visibility to your competition’s current and future location plans.  Evaluate the capacity within the markets you choose to provide adequate resourcing.  While talent availability is just one of many location selection criteria, make sure it’s a highly weighted factor in your decision models.
Transition Management:  Over-deliver on knowledge transfer and change management activities.  Be the smartest place to work!  Accommodate talent with exceptional tools, innovative workspace, exceptional career development, and an energizing work lifestyle. Train your team by supporting certifications and continuous learning.  Plan for and encourage rapid advancement.  Provide time in your onboarding plan to welcome new and transferred team members, offering them useful information about the area.  Introduce them to facility features as well as tools and equipment. 
Understand and support the need for fun.  Sponsor spontaneous team events.  Plan ice-breaker introductions to encourage communication between peers and leadership.  Make work enjoyable right from the start!
Depending on where you are on the transformation journey, you can take advantage of these opportunities to materially impact business results.
Interested in continuing the conversation?  I’d love to talk more.  Please feel free to reach out to me at  

What Other People Are Saying...
Here are a few other articles we've found of interest in the past few months...we hope you will too...

Robots Needs Not Apply
Alan Murray  |  Fortune Magazine

How the Most Creative People in Business Generate New Ideas
Erin Schulte  |  Fast Company

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