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More from Organization & Transformation

  • GCC Family Businesses: Unlocking Potential Through Active Portfolio Management

    GCC Family Businesses: Unlocking Potential Through Active Portfolio Management

    In tough times, GCC family businesses tend to stay strong, but the reverse occurred after 2008. It's not too late to rebound.

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    Like families in general, family businesses seem to function relatively well in troubled times. In fact, many studies show that, in the long run, they perform better than other business models. Key factors for their ongoing success include a management perspective that emphasizes the long term, strong brand and family name recognition, and often a strong focus on the core business.

    But in the GCC countries, family businesses are trending in the opposite direction. During the recent crisis, they have been less resilient than the rest of the economy despite a pre-downturn history of rapid growth and market dominance. This might come as a surprise to some, considering the advantages GCC family businesses enjoy which include the ability to capture the region’s significant growth via international partnerships and franchises across multiple sectors, and exceptional leaders with strong entrepreneurial spirit and intimate knowledge of local markets.

    If the region’s family businesses are to return to their historically high level of performance, they must not only grow and sustain their current business, but develop beyond the GCC. Active portfolio management is an indispensable tool for accomplishing that goal.

  • Seven Key Factors Driving the Offshoring of Services

    Seven Key Factors Driving the Offshoring of Services

    IndustryWeek, 3 December 2013

    Although there’s growing interest in the reshoring of business services and jobs, seven key factors continue to drive the offshoring of services.


  • Countdown to 2015: Creating ASEAN Champions

    Countdown to 2015: Creating ASEAN Champions

    With a new economic community around the corner, Southeast Asia is poised for massive growth.

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    The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) encompasses 600 million people across 10 countries, with a combined GDP of $2.3 trillion. In two years, the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) will come into effect to form a single market and production base with a free flow of goods, services, investment, and skilled labor.

    JWT and A.T. Kearney recently conducted an in-depth study of the AEC bloc and its impact. Our conversations with 50 corporate leaders, most from domestic companies across Southeast Asia, and leaders of key Asian and Western multinationals that operate here, show the AEC is high on their radar screens. Sixty-four percent say their organizations plan to enter new markets in the region once the AEC kicks in; 60 percent say they will expand their existing brands or product lines; and 24 percent say they will add completely new ones to their portfolio after 2015.

    The AEC will be a game changer. Companies across Southeast Asia are going to have to work harder to defend their home turf against a growing number of global and regional competitors.

  • Delivering Breakthrough Results with Connectional Intelligence

    Delivering Breakthrough Results with Connectional Intelligence

    Fully benefiting from Connectional Intelligence requires creating and using networks to generate value.

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  • Fit Transformation™: Making Your Company Strong, Agile, and Lean

    Fit Transformation™: Making Your Company Strong, Agile, and Lean

    A Fit Transformation translates a company's strategy into the right combination of organizational strength, agility, and cost.

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    Companies are complex, living organisms. Just as a disorder in the pea-sized pituitary gland can affect a range of bodily functions and an organ transplant requires the systematic reconnection of numerous blood vessels, interventions in one area of your company can have major systemic effects. In business transformation as in surgery, interconnections must be carefully considered, and the instruments and techniques chosen must be suited to the task.

    To do this, Fit Transformation translates your company's strategy into the right combination of organizational strength, agility, and cost. Furthermore, it aligns the different building blocks of your company's operating model and breaks down silos across functions. Finally, it manages the transformation itself, galvanizing the imagination, enthusiasm, and commitment of your workforce to transfer ownership and ensure a sustainable transition from today's reality to the desired future.

    Fit Transformation is a complex undertaking, but when performed by experienced practitioners, it is one that is manageable.

  • Reconstructing the Customer Engagement Model from the Bottom Up

    Reconstructing the Customer Engagement Model from the Bottom Up

    It's time for pharmaceutical firms to start from scratch, with a focus on customer value.

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    Pharmaceutical companies in Europe have had a grim time over the past few years. Declining revenue, traumatic cost reductions, and a nagging recognition that further action will be necessary before long have demoralized staff and thinned its ranks.

    The industry is finally facing up to the fact that its traditional go-to-market models in Europe are too expensive and, in any case, no longer capable of driving significant revenue growth. Since no one is really sure what should take their place, most companies have been "salami-slicing" their sales models to lower costs and play for time. But the fact is, the pharmaceutical world and its environment have changed so dramatically that the industry needs to take a step back to reexamine the fundamentals of what it is doing and why. It must go back to basics and reconstruct its go-to-market model from the bottom up, with a singular focus on creating value for its customers.

    A transformation on this scale will be huge; it is a challenge that the industry has been avoiding for at least the last decade. In this paper, we discuss how pharmaceutical companies can start again and what this new world will look like. Moreover, we analyze the uncomfortable lessons to be learned and the yawning capabilities gaps that must be bridged.

  • Restoring Trust: How to Unlock the True Potential of Your Organization

    Restoring Trust: How to Unlock the True Potential of Your Organization

    When trust is lost, the repercussions can be catastrophic. When restored, it is a transformative means of creating competitive advantage.

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    Trust is becoming an endangered species in more organizations than we care to admit—companies seeking help to solve strategic and operational challenges are often unaware that they have trust issues. Yet nine times out of ten, lack of trust emerges as a driving factor of the issues in question. The reasons are obvious: business volatility and layoffs, too few workers doing too much work, failure to master technology, insufficient training, and unclear career paths, to name a few.

    Once trust is lost, the repercussions can be catastrophic, and rebuilding that trust is no simple task. It means actively attempting to reengage and reinvigorate employees—recreating the magic of a startup by restoring a culture of confidence. But it is worthwhile, because better employers produce higher returns.

    The paper outlines the three "diseases of trust," and discusses how rebuilding internal trust-based relationships can be accomplished by going back to basics and re-emphasizing the four principles upon which a company is founded: accountability, entrepreneurship, expertise, and cooperation.

    By making employees accountable, encouraging entrepreneurship, fostering and rewarding expertise, and creating an environment where success is built upon cooperation, a company sets the foundation for high performance.

  • Rewriting India's Shared Services Playbook

    Rewriting India's Shared Services Playbook

    Shared services will play a major role in the next chapter of India's growth story.

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    India has become a global hub for shared services, serving many global companies in search of lower costs, more efficient processes, and business transformation. Indian companies, however, have not emphasized shared services, preferring to focus primarily on top-line growth. This is changing, however, as Indian companies see shared services as an important step in enabling growth and innovation and driving efficiency.

    The classic scope of services delivered by shared services will need to change as organizations increasingly demand a shared services model, even for core activities. This trend will require new business models, stronger provider-user relationships, and transformational contracts.

    There will be a number of challenges in achieving this transformation in the role of shared services in India. This will require a greater collaborative effort by customers, service providers, and the government.

    Within this context, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and A.T. Kearney worked together to provide a perspective on the current state of shared services in India. This paper highlights the benefits, identifies drivers for growth, and pinpoints the imperatives for key stakeholders, including shared services users, providers, and government. We hope this paper encourages a deeper discussion about the role that shared services can play in the next chapter of India's growth story.

  • The Innovator's Secret Weapon

    The Innovator's Secret Weapon

    Talk all you want about strategy and operational efficiency—the truth is, firms succeed because they offer something irresistible.

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    Companies devote a great deal of time, effort, and resources to achieve success, but the bottom line is this: The product or service offered needs to be one that people want above all others. It can be dangerous to assume you know what the customer wants. That is where capturing the voice of the customer (VOC) comes in. 

    Traditional VOC methods have shortcomings. For example, the information captured often includes several needs, or types of needs, which makes it difficult to compare and prioritize their importance or translate them into product specifications. 

    Desired outcome–based VOC adopts a different approach. It uses a framework of customer “jobs-to-be-done” and the “desired outcomes” for these jobs.  Proposed by Clayton Christensen in his work on innovation at Harvard University and Anthony Ulwick in his book, "What Customers Want," on outcome-driven innovation, the method is based on the assumption that customers buy a product or service to help them accomplish a specific task. Associated with each job-to-be-done is a desired outcome, which is the customer’s ideal result of the job getting done. 

    The structure and consistency of the outcome-driven customer-needs framework offers four advantages over traditional VOC approaches: 

    • Directly identifies underlying customer-value drivers 
    • Ensures innovation efforts that are more focused with clear articulation of required improvements 
    • Makes it easier to translate customer language to engineering language 
    • Provides a clear, supportable connection between future marketing messages and customer-value propositions 
  • Tied in KNOTs

    Tied in KNOTs

    The right way to think about network optimization

    Networks are complicated, and managing them requires an expansive strategic imagination.

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    The conventional way of looking at a network is through the direct-value lens: How much does it cost to run the network? Networks are a great deal more complicated than that, and managing them—or, more fittingly, optimizing them—requires an expansive strategic imagination.

    No matter what kind of network one manages—hospitality, retailing, banking, leisure, telecommunications whatever it might be—once the network is built, it immediately begins its evolution. Even within a single local market, the network is evolving all the time. As the network goes through its life cycle, perspectives on sustaining it must change as well. The means for doing this are distilled in A.T. Kearney’s Network Optimization Tools, or KNOTs, comprised of eight elements, each focused on a strategic element of the network.

    The English word knots translates as les nœuds in French, or nodes. This is an apt image for thinking about the symbiosis of the local and the networked—the balance of savoir-faire métier and savoir-faire local, of the collective intelligence of the network and the specific intelligence of the individual.

    Think of KNOTs not as a laundry list of best practices used to build an optimal network but as electrons—each one discrete and at the same time interacting around the nucleus. A national bank develops financial products centrally, but the local branch manager manages the relationship with customers. The national bank maintains good relations with the regulators while the branch manager cultivates the good will of the town mayor. A manufacturer’s leverage with suppliers may be directly proportionate to its number of plants, yet procurement is not only about concentrated volume. It is also about expertise the manufacturer owns in a multitude of categories and brings to bear in the local nodes of its network.

    A sobering counterexample is the flameout of video retailer Blockbuster, which channeled its energies into adding thousands of stores and tens of thousands of employees in North America and Western Europe only to be caught off guard by competitors such as Netflix and the rapid adoption of streaming video. In hindsight, Blockbuster’s history suggests an unbalanced emphasis on its real estate network and not enough on the customer experience. The result was catastrophic.

    We organize our network nomenclature into three types: production networks, service networks, and distribution networks. La Poste, for example, is a production network in that it operates like a factory producing a product: collecting and distributing mail. Taxi companies, railroads, and airlines are other good examples of production networks. The nodes in these networks are more than just infrastructure. One must own the nodes or there is no business to manage. Closely related to the production network is the service network, typified by telecommunications and hospitality. A hotel network, for instance, cannot deliver a night’s sleep over the Internet. The consumption of its product is done at the local level even though each node in the network is supported by the expertise of the whole. The service is the network.

    A distribution network is retail in all senses of the word, especially in its tailoring of products to meet the needs of local customers. Distribution networks are high touch and in certain ways are the easiest networks to think about in terms of nodes. The most familiar example, literally the most concrete, is a brick-and-mortar retail chain. Find a Wal-Mart, and its distribution center will not be very far away.

  • Reinventing Innovation: From Getting Lucky to Staying on Top

    Reinventing Innovation: From Getting Lucky to Staying on Top

    The secret to being the sharpest pencil in the innovation drawer is an R&D organization that thinks fast and plans ahead—from start to finish.

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    Today, CPG companies in particular are faced with tough competition, flat R&D budgets, and fickle consumers who crave the latest and greatest products. In this challenging market, how do leading companies stay on top?

    We recently profiled 10 of the world’s largest CPG companies to evaluate their innovation mettle and determine how their R&D organizations have adapted to today’s market pressures. Our goal was simple: find out how leaders are reinventing innovation. And our focus was not on one-hit wonders but on companies that are likely to sustain innovation over time.

    Our findings suggest that these companies—we call them “sustainable innovators”—apply foresight to the R&D function and avoid the pitfalls that take down even the most potent competitors. Essentially, they think of innovation as an end-to-end value chain that is focused on the future—from idea management, product development, and launch to managing the entire life cycle of every product.

    Sustainable innovators share three important characteristics:

    • Pursuit of breakthrough, consumer-driven innovation. A substantial boost in sales comes from breakthrough innovations that tap into unmet consumer needs and lead to either new products or significantly expanded product categories. 
    • An invent-and-reinvent mindset. Reviews are vital, to continually reinvent even bestselling products to insulate them from ruthless competitors and private label upstarts.
    • Productivity linked to innovation. Today’s volatile world requires more innovative thinking to protect and grow market share—a “no sacred costs” approach to product evaluation to reveal changing consumer preferences, new supply sources, and formulations can improve margin performance.
  • Quantitative Talent Management: A Moneyball Perspective

    Quantitative Talent Management: A Moneyball Perspective

    HR Executive Online, 4 June 2012 — 30 June 2012

    How to ensure that the right data is being selected, tracked, reported, compared, and used to improve talent management.


  • video Special Report: The State of Shared Services in Latin America

    Special Report: The State of Shared Services in Latin America

    Nearshore Americas, 9 April 2012

    Rodrigo Slelatt of A.T. Kearney gives comprehensive update on current market drivers.

  • Argyle Conversations—Susan DeLaney, UPS

    Argyle Conversations—Susan DeLaney, UPS

    Argyle Executive Forum, 15 December 2011

    A.T. Kearney's Joel Alden and UPS Senior Vice President Susan DeLaney discuss the value of customer-experience programs in addressing consumer needs.


In the News

Read insights from A.T. Kearney consultants quoted in the media.

Global Leaders

Beth Bovis
Beth Bovis
Damon Beyer
Damon Beyer
Marcy Beitle
Marcy Beitle
Asia Pacific
Dr. Hagen Götz Hastenteufel
Dr. Hagen Götz Hastenteufel
Europe, Middle East, and Africa