Archive for September, 2012

How Do We Define ‘Strategy’?

‘Strategy’ is a tricky word because it means many different things to different people. Henry Mintzberg, a management professor and writer, offered that strategy has five different definitions:

Strategy as a Plan: a guide or course of action

Strategy as a Pattern: behavior over time, which I think of as an operating model based on focus and core competencies

Strategy is a Position: defined by product or service offerings and their current and intended position in the market

Strategy is a Perspective: similar to position, but more abstract. It points to the “theory” or grand vision of the business

Strategy as a Ploy: specific actions taken to gain headway in the market and to outmaneuver the competition[more…]

Many consultancies talk about having broad strategic capabilities, but are often unclear about what kind of “strategic” expertise and advice they are providing. In many cases they specialize in one of the above definitions, for example developing strategic plans (“Strategy as a Plan), helping the organization clarify their mission (“Strategy as Perspective”), or may have a specialized expertise, like technology (“Strategy as Ploy”).

We try to bring together all the definitions in our thinking in order to get a holistic understanding of all the issues facing the client and apply innovative solutions. We’ve decomposed the Mintzberg framework to help us get to the heart of the relevant dynamics, which then allows us to leverage our functional expertise to define a clear path forward.

1) First we aim to get clarity around the client’s desired ideal business objectives (“Perspective”)

2) Secondly we rigorously evaluate the client’s condition in the marketplace (“Position”) and the unique strengths, weaknesses and opportunities in their operating model (“Pattern”)

3) Next we define strategies that position the client’s resources most effectively and develop systematic steps to realize the desired objectives (“Plan”)

4) Last, we advise and help direct the execution of new strategies, with the help of our project management and technical expertise (“Ploy”)

We bring to the table what we feel is one of the most comprehensive approaches to not only gaining strategic clarity but to bringing strategies to life.

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Oboe Partners: Our Strategic Framework

We specialize in developing strategies that create sustainable competitive advantages for our clients. We realize that this statement is filled with a lot of management consulting speak and can sound empty or frivolous. But our strategic framework is based on a deep understanding of industry dynamics, analytical rigour, and technical expertise. These are the basis for the development of strategies and executable plans that change decision-making and behavior.

We apply our framework to four kinds of engagements:

Development of client-oriented strategies

  • Evaluate / target new markets and opportunities
  • Create new product distribution strategies
  • Develop strategic plans and set targets for sales and client service teams
  • Professionalize client management / client service functions that enhance sales and relationship impact

Develop understanding of client segmentation and client profitability

  • Identify and define key client segments and sub-segments, and uncover their drivers
  • Develop behavioral client segments that better represent effort and client characteristics
  • Create detailed analysis of client and client segment profitability
  • Activity-based management analytics

Optimize organizational design

  • Recommend optimal team structures aimed at gaining profitable market share globally
  • Create policies and processes to increase workflow efficiency and information sharing

Apply the best technology solutions to increase insights, productivity, and collaboration

  • Big Data
  • CRM and collaboration tools
  • Analytics and MIS
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Oboe Partners: What We Do

OWe established Oboe Partners as a strategy consulting firm with the philosophy that in order to deliver game-changing solutions to our clients, we need to provide not only market context, insight, and advice, but also nose-to-the-grindstone plans to realize the vision.  We have experience working closely with senior management of broker-dealers and asset managers on a variety of assignments that has helped them better operate in a market that is becoming increasingly challenging and competitive. Because of our experience in both the buy-side and sell-side, we understand the full investor value chain which helps us provide unique insights and solutions.

We start with an evaluation of the market space to understand market trends, competitor’s positioning, and most importantly a clear articulation of client needs. Next we do a full, unbiased accounting of our client’s market positioning, strengths, and gaps. Once we fully understand the market and our client, we create innovative recommendations intended to affect strategically significant change. Because of our extensive experience in not just strategy, but in implementation, we create plans for process improvements and platform investments needed to drive change and efficiency.

We’ve applied this discipline to many successful client projects, including entrance into new markets, new product launches, development of new platform capabilities, joint venture and other strategic alliances, and creation of efficiencies using technology and innovative organizational design.

Once these initiatives have been implemented, our engagements often extend to include ongoing measurement and benchmarking of performance. Because we have a strong capability in data and analytics, we help our clients develop analytical tools to help them measure success and deliver real-time information.  We’ve implemented performance dashboards, profitability analysis, and predictive modeling that helps our clients track progress and make changes that will steer their organization across the choppy competitive landscape.


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