Growth is always hard, but in times of change and uncertainty, even successful companies can face steep obstacles to achieving it. Trusted business models run out of steam. Disruptive startups seem to come from nowhere. Organizations so good at doing what made them successful face the “innovator’s dilemma” – and become victims of their own success. Leadership teams are too busy executing to think long-term, or just don’t have a process in which they feel confident.

Traditional approaches to strategy look to the past to predict the future. They are facing the wrong way. We believe that when you take a “future back” approach to setting strategy, you can build new paths to growth that have not yet been imagined.

Creating the vision to own the future. We work with leaders at both the enterprise and division level to align on a shared vision for the future: who we will become, where to play, how to win. Specifically, we help organizations to:

The health insurer makes strategic moves to lead consumer-centric care.  

  • Understand fast-moving and disruptive trends and the implications for your business
  • Identify high-potential growth opportunities in adjacent and “white space” markets
  • Define the role of M&A in the growth portfolio
  • Identify and pursue game-changing ideas to accelerate growth
  • Create a customer “jobs to be done” view of the marketplace and opportunities
  • Develop a shared view of future aspirations, and a detailed plan for how to achieve them

 

Organizing to realize new opportunities. We help to design a portfolio of opportunities across businesses and build organization momentum for success. This includes:

  • Manage resource allocation across a portfolio of core and new growth
  • Prioritize customer-driven opportunities
  • Get stakeholders aligned around a new strategy and build the case for change

Making it happen. We help create and support focused execution by putting into place the right milestones, targets, and learning programs:

  • Blueprint new business models
  • Understand customer “jobs to be done”
  • Create and implement performance metrics and other systems to pursue the new and different
  • Develop plans to learn for new business launches

Our approach is highly collaborative, driven by our values and with a focus on having real and lasting impact. Learn more about our frameworks below.

A Future-Back Approach to Strategy Development

Our recent research shows that executives understand the need to develop new business models that drive long-term growth, but don’t have confidence do so. The problem is often with strategy – either a lack of a coherent vision, or when there is a growth strategy, organizational antibodies that undermine it.

Learn more about how future-back strategy helps our clients in our Executive Briefing.  

We developed the future-back approach to help executives more confidently cut through ambiguity to envision a company’s future and the plan to get to there. It begins with the assumption that tomorrow will be different than today. It involves looking at powerful trends that hold transformational potential, coming to consensus about the future environment, developing shared aspirations about the company’s future state, and then making “stepping stone” investments to turn that aspiration into an achievable reality.

Through a series of strategic dialogues, we help a leadership team build a shared view of how to position the enterprise for enduring growth. We focus not just on anticipated market conditions but on sifting through market trends to zero in on critical “jobs to be done” of tomorrow’s customers.

Dual Transformation for Managing Core and New Growth

Optimizing or repositioning your core business while pursuing new growth initiatives is complex. Without thoughtful governance, leadership and resource allocation, the core can over-consume resources and perpetuate existing business models, dooming promising new growth efforts. We work with companies to manage these two pursuits in distinct but parallel efforts: Transformation A focuses on the core business, adapting it to the changing environment while Transformation B supports a separate, disruptive business that will be the source of future growth.

Explore dual transformation in our HBR article “Two Routes to Resilience.”  

This dual approach allows incumbents to realize the most value from their current assets and advantages, while giving the new initiative the time it needs to grow. Through the creation of a “capabilities exchange” – establishing leadership, determining what kind of assets can shared, and defining boundaries – both efforts can share to share critical resources like R&D and brand without interfering with the mission or operations of either.

“It’s been refreshing to work with people who can not only push us further but can challenge even our own thinking, and we’re better for it.”

Mark Bertolini, CEO, Aetna