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Mergers and Acquisitions (M&A) generally do not produce the outstanding results that they are envisioned and purported to provide. Some companies in certain industries, however, demonstrate consistent success when it comes to M&A.
A constant question across all industries, as far as M&As are concerned, pertains to the factors that differentiate organizations with successful histories. The magic ingredient in the success of these companies is their Corporate Strategy that utilizes Capabilities as the source for inorganic Growth. Capabilities-driven M&A have managed to raise shareholder value for the acquirer despite the tough years since the economic crisis of the 2000s. The majority of other inorganic Growth attempts produced a loss of value.
Companies employing the Capabilities-driven Strategy were recompensed with deals that had a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) average of 12 percentage points greater in shareholder return compared to M&A deals by other acquirers in that very industry and region.
Particular industries, for instance Information Technology and Retail, demonstrated a bigger effect. However, all industries displayed a steady, noticeable, Capabilities Premium in M&A. Capabilities-driven Strategy is exceptionally beneficial in M&A transactions where, frequently, time window is narrow and the risks elevated.
Capabilities Systems are defined as 3 to 6 reciprocally strengthening, distinguished Capabilities that are structured to hold up and drive Organizational Strategy, integrating people, processes, and technologies to create something of value for customers.
Setting apart likely M&A success factors is accomplished more easily by separating successful deals by their declared Intent consequently, capturing the dominant view regarding purpose of each deal.
Intent can be classified into 5 categories: Capability Access Deals, Product and Category Adjacency Deals, Geographic Adjacency Deals, Consolidation Deals, and Diversification Deals.
There is a lot of talk about Fit during M&A discussions. Fit does not mean introducing an ostensibly linked product or service, plugging a gap in a category, or moving in a new geography—such sorts of acquisitions are frequently unsuccessful.
Fit relates to unity, the benefit that ensues when Capabilities of a company fit mutually into a system, lining up to its market position, and employed to its complete array of products and services.
Deals when cross-categorized by their Capabilities System Fit, fall into following 3 categories:
- Enhancement Deals
- Leverage Deals
- Limited-Fit Deals
Let us delve a little deeper into the 3 categories.
Enhancement deals enable the acquiring company to include new Capabilities so as to close gaps in its present Capabilities System or counter an alteration in its market.
Nearly 2/3rd of the deals studied—in a 2011 study spanning 8 sectors—used Capabilities to good effect, either by way of Enhancement or Leverage.
Leverage deals are where the acquirer makes use of prevailing Capabilities System in their company to handle incoming products and services, customarily augmenting the acquired company’s performance.
Leverage deal are frequently low-risk deals that may not require the acquirer to alter anything concerning its inhouse Capabilities System to make it work.
Limited Fit Deals
Limited-fit deals are deals where the purchasing company generally ignores Capabilities. Normally such deals provide a purchaser with product or service that need new Capabilities.
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M&A is an extremely common strategy for growth. M&A transactions always look great on paper. This is why the buyer typically pays a 10-35% premium over the of the target company’s market value.
However, when it comes time for the Post-merger Integration (PMI), are we really able to capture the expected value? Studies show only 20% of organizations capture projected revenue synergies and only 40% capture cost synergies. Not to mention, the PMI process is typically very painful, drawn out, and politically charged, often resulting in the loss of key personnel.
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Enterprises worldwide face problems selecting, staffing, developing, compensating, motivating, and sustaining their key talent. Building a sustainable Talent pipeline is quite strenuous even for large multinationals.
Replicating best practices from somewhere and applying them alone isn’t sufficient for organizations to build a Talent pipeline and achieve Competitive Advantage. This warrants overcoming arduous challenges associated with this digital age, including:
- Adjusting to varying dynamics in global markets
- Handling the expectations of varied customer segments in different geographies
- Managing the preferences of key Talent
- Acquiring new technologies
- Building novel capabilities
- Achieving Operational Excellence by streamlining operations and improving processes
- Exploring new markets
- Devising strategies to attract, select, develop, assess, and reward top Talent.
Developing Talent Management practices helps the organizations build and retain talented people available in the job market. The term was first used by McKinsey & Company in 1997, and it pertains to planning and managing strategic Human Capital through activities, i.e. attracting, selecting, developing, evaluating, rewarding, and retaining key people.
Executives use diverse Talent Management strategies and career pathways based on various departments, levels, and roles in their Talent pool. Multi-year research on Talent Management practices conducted by an international team of researchers from INSEAD, Cornell, Cambridge, and Tillburg universities studied 33 multi-national corporations, headquartered in 11 countries. The study revealed that successful Human Capital practitioners and workforce planners adopted 6 core principles. These principles act as the 6 pillars to effective Talent Management implementation:
- Alignment with Corporate Strategy
- Consistency of Talent Management Practices
- Integration with Corporate Culture
- Involvement of Leadership
- Global Strategy with Localization
- Branding and Differentiation
Let’s discuss the first 3 pillars in detail, for now.
Alignment with Corporate Strategy
Integrating Talent Management with Corporate Strategy is imperative as the need for future Talent depends on the company’s long-term strategy. Corporate Strategy should guide the identification of Talent required to accomplish organizational goals, since it’s the right Talent that drives the key strategic initiatives rather than strategic planning.
For example, GE’s Talent Management practices have been a great assistance in implementing their strategic initiatives. The organization regards its Talent Management system as their most potent execution tool and has integrated TM processes into their strategic planning process. To sustain its image as an innovation leader, GE targets technical skills as a priority in its annual Strategic Planning sessions. Individual business units lay out their business as well as the Human Capital objectives in GE’s annual strategic planning sessions. Significant time is spent on reviewing its Innovation pipeline, its engineering function’s structure, and Talent requirements. To achieve its vision, GE promotes more engineers in its senior management than its rivals.
Consistency of Talent Management Practices
Talent Management practices must be consistent and synchronous with each other. It is critical not only to invest in advancing the careers of key Talent but also to invest in processes to empower, compensate, and retain them. Human Capital practitioners utilize various tools to ensure consistency of Talent Management practices, including Human Resources satisfaction surveys and qualitative and quantitative data on TM practices implementation.
For example, the success of Siemens is based on consistent monitoring of its systems, processes, and key performance metrics across its subsidiaries. Every element of Human Capital Management is connected, continuously assessed, and linked to rewards. This goes from recruitment of graduates each year, to their orientation, to mentoring and development, to performance evaluation and management, and compensation and benefits.
Integration with Corporate Culture
Corporate culture is regarded as important as vision and mission by renowned global organizations. These companies hold their core values and behavioral standards very high and promote them among their employees through coaching and mentoring. They strive to embed this into their hiring, leadership development, performance management, remuneration, and reward processes / programs. So much so that they consider cultural adaptability a crucial element of their recruitment process—as personality traits and mindsets are hard to develop than technical skills—and evaluate applicants’ behaviors and values rigorously.
For example, among other leading companies, IBM has a special emphasis on values while selecting and promoting people. To ensure consistent values across the board, it organizes regular values jam sessions and employee health index surveys. These sessions encourage open communication and debate on values and organizational culture and their importance among employees.
Interested in learning more about the other pillars of Talent Management, the various approaches to TM? You can download an editable PowerPoint on 6 Pillars of Talent Management here on the Flevy documents marketplace.
Are you a Management Consultant?
Strategy and execution are the 2 critical elements that drive a business. However, leaders often struggle even with defining—let alone devising and executing—an effective strategy. Many of those who are responsible to deal with it fall short of describing how they typically employ it. This failure takes its roots from the fact that there is no clear path associated with strategy.
Strategy is about making sound decisions about unforeseen problems. It’s about selecting the right options—about matters that are often quite ambiguous today but have great significance in the future—based on thorough contemplation, detailed analysis, and creative ideas. Broadly speaking, strategy encompasses these 3 main elements:
- A vision and direction
- A certain position or pattern
- A deliberated Strategic Plan to achieve strategic goals and vision
Great strategists execute their plans, analyze the results, evaluate their actions, and perform course correction based on the outcomes. They are not afraid of even revamping their approach entirely. Senior leaders should clarify their understanding of the concept of strategy and draw attention to the importance of differentiating between the 3 distinct types of strategies before formulating their own course of action:
- General Strategy
- Corporate Strategy
- Competitive Strategy
Let’s delve deeper into the 3 types of strategy.
General Strategy indicates how a specific objective will be achieved, with well-thought-out plans. The focus of this type of Strategy is on ends (objectives and results) and means (the resources we have to achieve the objectives). Strategy and tactics combined bridge the gap between ends and means; where Strategy deals with deploying the resources at our disposal while tactics govern their utilization. A pattern of decisions and actions marks progress from the starting point to achievement of objectives in General Strategy.
Senior executives need to deliberate on the following questions before devising their General Strategy:
- What do we do?
- Why are we here?
- What kind of business are we?
- What kind of business do we want to become?
- What is our purpose? What are the results we seek?
- What is our existing Strategy, is it explicit or tacit?
- What Strategy and plans may bring about the results we want?
- What resources we have at our disposal?
- Are there any constraints in terms of resources that limit our actions?
Corporate Strategy describes what a company does, the purpose of its existence, and what it aims to become. Corporate Strategy focuses on choices and commitments concerning the markets, business, and the organization. Corporate Strategy classifies the markets and the businesses in which a company will operate. This type of strategy is typically decided in the context of defining the company’s mission and vision.
A detailed assessment of the existing strategy, market, competition and environment is critical for devising the Corporate Strategy. Strategists indicate that there are critical elements that should be factored in while formulating Corporate Strategy. These elements include product or service offerings, resources, marketing and sales approaches, manufacturing capabilities / capacity, customers, distribution channels, technology, type of market and its requirements, and revenue and profit goals.
While formulating Corporate Strategy, senior executives should consider and seek answers to the following questions:
- What is our existing Corporate Strategy?
- Is our Corporate Strategy explicit or tacit?
- What are the critical assumptions that make our existing strategy viable?
- What is going on in the market—in terms of social, political, technical and financial environment?
- What do we seek to accomplish in terms of our growth, size, and profitability targets?
- What markets we are eyeing to compete in?
- What businesses we intend to operate in?
- What locations and geographies will we compete in?
Competitive or Business Strategy specifies for an enterprise the core reason on which it contests its rivals. It depends on an organization’s competences, advantages, and disadvantages compared to the market and the rivals.
Interested in learning more about the General, Corporate, and Competitive Strategies? You can download an editable PowerPoint on The 3 Distinctions of Strategy here on the Flevy documents marketplace.
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Most Product Managers have relatively narrow roles and decision rights on product portfolios are fragmented on various functions. This creates incoherence between a company’s product and its overall Corporate Strategy.
What is needed is more accountable decision rights that align responsibility for results to one person who also has cross-functional decision-making authority. This realignment is at the core of Strong-form Product Management.
What is Product Management
Product Management is an organizational lifecycle function within a company. Product Management deals with the planning, forecasting, production, and marketing of the product or products at all stages of the product lifecycle.
The Product Life Cycle (PLM) Management integrates people, data, processes, and business systems. It provides product information for companies and their extended supply chain enterprise. One of the ultimate goals of Product Management is to optimize the business at the product, product line or product portfolio level over the lifecycle of the products.
Taking a Cautionary Case in Point: Understanding What Happened to Research in Motion (RIM)
In April 2007, Research in Motion (RIM) was flying high. The Blackberry creator was coming off its best year ever. RIM was experiencing record revenues, record earnings per share, and record shipments. And there was a new reason to be optimistic: Apple had just introduced the iPhone and RIM executives took it for granted that their product—a runaway hit in the business world—would grab a huge share of the burgeoning consumer market as well.
However, the confidence proved to be ill-founded. The iPhone reversed the historical pattern of computer technologies flowing from the enterprise to the consumer market.
RIM is compelling as a cautionary tale but it is not unique. Many companies falter in the face of discontinuous change. Their failure usually stems from their inability to keep up with technological shifts or the complexity of their product lines. Though often seen as a breakdown at the enterprise level, this starts at a much more granular level, with ineffective Product Management.
A Strong-form Model could have kept RIM stay ahead of change and remain competitive.
The Strong-form Product Management Model
The 5 steps to Strong-form Product Management will keep competition at bay.
- Hire Product Managers with Proper Skills
We need to understand that intrinsic abilities are required by Product Managers. These are the abilities to make a judgment to understand trade-offs, anticipate market changes, and make savvy business decisions.
- Create Financial Transparency to the Product Level
Companies must realize that a given product may be siphoning revenue from more profitable products. Increase in costs from suppliers that are managed by another function may cause hidden opportunity costs or out-and-out profit surprises. The creation of Financial Transparency down to the product level can address these concerns.
- Implement Product-first Decision-making Processes
There is a need to broaden decision rights and increasing accountability of Product Managers for performance and results. Product Managers have a “first among equals” status.
- Develop Strong Customer Relations
Product Manager must translate customer insights into product improvement and new products.
- Encourage Cross-functional Collaboration
Strong-form Product Management is inherently cross-functional. Communication is essential in developing the relationships between marketing and product management.
In all these steps, the Strong-form Product Manager must be the center of knowledge. However, Product Managers must also realize that the adoption of a Strong-form Product Management Approach requires taking Change Management initiatives.
Undertaking a Change Management initiative can take years to implement. Success can be achieved when anchored on basic principles of Change Management. However, once this is put in place, significant opportunities arise as companies move from strategy to execution.
Interested in gaining more understanding of the Strong-form Product Management Model? You can learn more and download an editable PowerPoint about Strong-form Product Management Model here on the Flevy documents marketplace.
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In a recent update to Flevy, the documents marketplace has allowed select contributors to offer complimentary documents. However, it takes some digging to find these free offers. Here, we present 5:
Introduction to Strategy
What is Strategy? This 20-slide presentation provides an introduction to strategy, separating out the concepts of Corporate Strategy vs. Business (Unit) Strategy.
Introduction to Operational Excellence
This 48-slide presentation provides a high-level introduction to Operational Excellence. It explains the four building blocks: Strategy Deployment, Performance Management, Process Excellence, and High Performance Work Teams.
A Practical Framework Approach to Change
This presentation presents a flavour of some of the more necessary change components and associated tools & techniques that will require consideration during any change initiative.
Lean Thinking 101
This 32-page presentation that explains the Lean management philosophy, based on the Toyota Production System (TPS).
Delta Model Primer
The Delta Model is a growth strategy framework developed by MIT/Sloan professors to help managers in the articulation and implementation of effective corporate and business strategies.
Flevy is offering a free product download of a Strategy Development Discussion Deck. This document is a discussion deck template for a corporate strategy development session. In this discussion, we go through a 2-prong approach to growth and evaluate the merits of various growth drivers. This presentation follows the standard management consulting Headline-Body-Bumper format.
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Growth strategy is typically the crux of any organization’s business strategy. Achieving sustainable growth is a challenge faced by all companies, whether you’re just a startup or a gorilla.
There are several main barriers that inhibit continued growth. These include coming up with break-through innovations, execution challenges, and balancing growth at the expense of profitability.
In framing the growth challenge, there are typically 3 “horizons” a company must cross and overcome. The first is to extend and defend it core business. This is critical for near-term performance and, oftentimes, too much of a focus. Successfully growing through this horizon requires very strong operational managers and leadership. The second horizon is to build emerging businesses. The objective is to drive or invest in ventures that leverage or replicate the existing business model and capabilities. Successful navigation through this horizon requires entrepreneurial members and business builders. The final horizon focuses on creating viable options for future growth. This requires input from “visionaries” and unconventional thinkers.
LearnPPT has a comprehensive Growth Strategy toolkit, which discusses these growth challenge and presents several frameworks in addressing, creating, and managing sustainable business growth. You can find the document here:
This toolkit is 31 slides. It presents and compares the traditional approach to growth strategy, such as Porter’s Five Forces, to the newer age Blue Ocean Strategy methodology of creating an uncontested market. In addition, it lays out a framework for undertaking a growth strategy project initiative. (You can find a detailed description of the document at the bottom of this post.)
LearnPPT is a leading online resource for presentation materials. Its range of products range from PowerPoint templates to business strategy frameworks (like the one on pricing strategy). All documents were created for an by top management consulting firms. Since its founding in 2010, the LearnPPT documents have been used by customers in Fortune 500 companies, top MBA programs, and leading management consultancies across over 45 countries.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE GROWTH STRATEGY TOOLKIT
The Growth Strategy Strategy Toolkit is a 31-slide PowerPoint. It contains both instructional slides about growth strategy frameworks and editable templates. This document is divided into 4 sections:
- Growth Challenge (6 slides)
- Traditional Strategy Thinking (5 slides)
- Modern Strategy Thinking (11 slides)
- Growth Strategy Project (5 slides)
In this first section, we explain how all companies are faced with the challenge of achieving sustainable growth. Specific growth challenges and situations are identified and explained. We show how a successful company must navigate across 3 growth “horizons,” which involve both optimizing the existing core business and creating new ones. Specific barriers and paths to growth are enumerated.
Traditional Strategy Thinking
This section discusses the focus and thinking of traditional growth strategy frameworks, such as Porter’s Five Forces and the GE-McKinsey Matrix. There is a deep dive into Porter’s Five Forces, including template slide for presenting a Porter’s Five Forces analysis summary.
Modern Strategy Thinking
This third section is the largest section of the document. It includes a detailed comparison between Traditional Growth Strategy Thinking versus Modern Growth Strategy Thinking across the areas of industry, strategy, market, resources, among other components. The focus is on teaching the Blue Ocean Strategy framework, include the related topics of portfolio positioning, value identification, and value curves. Specific examples are provided, along with template slide for presenting a Value Curve analysis summary.
Growth Strategy Project
This final project teaches how to conduct an actual growth strategy project. A three-phase approach to strategy development is introduced. Specific work streams, activities, and deliverables are identified for each phase of the project. This is the same approach to conducting a growth strategy engagement used by many strategy consulting firms.