Speaking

Ranjay regularly speaks to executive audiences around the world. The groups he speaks to range in size from small senior leadership teams and corporate boards to large company off-sites. He has worked with companies in a range of industries and spoken with groups across a variety of functional areas. His clients range from large well-established companies to high-growth entrepreneurial ventures.

Through executive seminars and open lectures, Ranjay creates a forum for the development and implementation of business strategies for the challenging market conditions we face today. Each lecture is customized to fit the audience and their circumstances. Much of his speaking focuses on helping firms discover growth opportunities in dynamic and uncertain markets. He explores the dilemmas and enablers for building actionable strategies that encompass making strategic choices and architecting organizations to drive chosen strategies. His systemic approach also emphasizes the requisite leadership skills and pipeline that is essential to support strategy.

Ranjay’s speeches are carefully curated and adapted to the specific clients needs. Through a variety of pedagogies ranging from interactive lectures, case discussions, exercises, and videos, he helps his audience uncover their key strategic challenges and brings focus on their strategic choices and the organization and leadership team required to help bring it to fruition.

Some of Ranjay’s speaking engagements include: Abbott Laboratories, Adidas, Aetna, Allergan, American Tower, Bank of America, Bank of China, Baxter, Berkshire Partners, Blackrock, Boston Scientific, Bristol Myers Squibb, Brown Brothers Harriman, Caterpillar, Credit Suisse, Expedia, Ford, Future Brands, GE, General Mills, Henkel, Hitachi, Honda, Hospira, IBM, Iron Mountain, KBC, Keybank, Levi Strauss, LaFarge, Lockheed Martin, McGraw-Hill, Merck, Metlife, Microsoft, Mitsubishi, Novartis, Ochsner, Proctor & Gamble, Qualcomm, Rockwell Collins, Sanofi Aventis, SAP, St Jude, Target, and Unilever.

Instructional Methodology

Ranjay uses instructional methodologies that include proven and effective adult learning tools including, but not limited to: lectures, cases, case discussions, simulations, interactive exercises, small group exercises and events, small group analysis and discussions, team presentation and “action learning.” The learning style tends to be very interactive, both in the full classroom setting as well as when participants have the opportunity to work in smaller groups.

Speaking Topics

impactful leadership

Cultivating Courage

In my research I have found that courage is not just an individual psychological trait, but one that can be actively cultivated in others. This is crucially important because, as managers, we need our employees to not just call our attention to things that are amiss (as in the case of whistleblowers), but because customers and clients have increasingly high expectations that must be met. Instilling courage means that top managers must not only demonstrate this quality themselves, but also foster it among others. As market turbulence around us continues unabated, courage can be the new currency for organizational success.

Giving people the mere permission to make decisions isn’t enough, because most people still need to feel a sense of direction. This means that you have to cultivate in them the courage to make the right decisions on their own — and not just on a day-to-day basis, because you will never have the specific information, at any given moment, that they have. An organizational courage quotient that builds in a capacity for risk-taking and the tolerance for failures allows the company as a whole to learn and try again.

In this interactive lecture we will use a series of historical and contemporary cases to explore how learning to act with courage entails developing a purposeful and powerful self-narrative, or “narrative identity” as psychologists call it. Each of us has embedded within us a story of ourselves, based on our past experiences, that shapes our behavior. My research shows that leaders can trigger courage when they help others to reframe their self-narratives in specific ways. Some of these re-framings include: “Am I playing a heroic part in a virtuous quest? Do I feel that I have my teammate’s back, and that she has mine? If I’m facing a daunting task, does my manager support rather than punish me? Am I achieving mastery in my job? Am I trusted to act under my own power?” By helping followers answer these questions in the affirmative for themselves, leaders can encourage them to become courageous leaders in their own rights. We will use in-class exercises how each of us can be a catalyst for courageous action not only within ourselves but also in those around us.

Resilient Leadership

As business leaders face increasingly uncertain markets they have to sometimes face unprecedented adversity and setbacks that may sometimes even look insurmountable. Facing up to such circumstances requires resilient leadership. This interactive lecture will provide a comprehensive model for how to develop and guide resilient leadership within organizations. It will also provide a detailed assessment of the actions of resilient leaders and some thoughts on how to develop such a leadership pipeline within your organization. Resilient leaders have to grapple with tremendous market uncertainty with no easy answers while at once projecting confidence to motivate their teams. What are the secrets to balancing determination to succeed with the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions. It will conclude with a personal leadership roadmap for those seeking to develop those skills in themselves.

Leading the Top Team

Leaders of a top management teams have to balance showing direction with including their team members in shaping the direction of their organizations. This interactive lecture will provide a comprehensive model for how to build, leverage, and guide successful top management teams. We will explore how leaders leverage their teams to shape and then mobilize impactful change within organizations. It will also provide a detailed assessment of the actions of successful leaders and some thoughts on how to develop such a leadership pipeline within your organization. It will conclude with a personal leadership roadmap for those seeking to develop those skills in themselves. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • Leadership as dynamic relationship between managing vertically and horizontally
  • Mobilizing and driving change to adapt to turbulent market conditions
  • Embracing a mindset of playing to win
  • Skills and behaviors of a real change leader
Leading from Within

This lecture will focus on the inner journey of leadership. We will examine how leaders not only manage others around them but also themselves. Using illustrative cases and recent research we will discuss how outstanding leaders are equally adept at managing others as they are themselves. We will start with a discussion of how adept leaders understand their capabilities and their goals. But they also dig beneath them to uncover their underlying drivers, values and purpose. We will then explore how leaders who comprehend all these facets of themselves become authentic and impactful leaders within their organizations.

Leading Meaningful Behavioral Change

One way in which behavior is perpetuated is through our “hidden commitments” that are manifest at the organizational level through the culture, team level through local cultural beliefs, and also at the individual level through our own individual beliefs. Research suggests that an awareness of such beliefs can mitigate their limiting features. In this exercise we will uncover some of the productive and counter-productive hidden commitments we face at the organization-level, our business-unit level, and within ourselves. We will explore how we can reshape the counter-productive commitments while accentuating the productive commitments as we embark forward as a leader.

Leading In A Matrix Organization

This interactive lecture will provide a comprehensive model for how to develop and guide successful leadership within matrix organizations. It will also provide a detailed assessment of the actions of successful leaders and some thoughts on how to develop such a leadership pipeline within your organization. Such leaders struggle to grapple with tremendous organizational uncertainty with no easy answers while at once projecting confidence to motivate their teams. What are the secrets to balancing determination to succeed with the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions in a matrix organizations. It will conclude with a personal leadership roadmap for those seeking to develop those skills in themselves. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • Leadership as dynamic relationship between managing vertically and horizontally in a global organization
  • Mobilizing and driving change to adapt to turbulent market conditions in such conditions
  • Embracing a mindset of playing to win
  • Skills and behaviors of a real change leader in matrix organizations
Playing to Win

Sports coaches frequently refer to the notion of “playing to win” versus “playing not to lose.” Business executives have embraced this distinction as a way to comprehend a common pathology in many large organizations. Using this sports metaphor, we will discuss how the most effective business people shift their mindset from playing not to lose towards playing to win. We will not only define these two extremes but then discuss strategies that winning coaches use to get their teams to become winning teams. Lessons that emerge from this with broader application will be discussed. We will elaborate on this distinction to uncover what it means for you as a leader personally, but also for how you might lead your organizations going forward.  Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • What is playing to win?
  • What is playing not to lose? Why do many individuals and organizations fall under the spell of playing not to lose?
  • How do large and successful organizations overcome the spell of playing not to lose and shift towards playing to win?
  • What are some leadership imperatives for making this shift?
Global Leadership in Turbulent Times

This interactive lecture will provide a comprehensive model for how to develop and guide successful global leadership within organizations. It will also provide a detailed assessment of the actions of successful leaders and some thoughts on how to develop such a leadership pipeline within your organization. Such leaders struggle to grapple with tremendous market uncertainty with no easy answers while at once projecting confidence to motivate their teams. What are the secrets to balancing determination to succeed with the flexibility to adapt to changing conditions. It will conclude with a personal leadership roadmap for those seeking to develop those skills in themselves. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • Leadership as dynamic relationship between managing vertically and horizontally in a global organization
  • Mobilizing and driving change to adapt to turbulent market conditions in varying global contexts
  • Embracing a mindset of playing to win in an uncertain global context
  • Skills and behaviors of a real change leader who adapt to changing global conditions
Transformational leadership for turbulent times: pathways for driving deep change

What are some successful pathways to driving deep change within your organizations? This interactive lecture will provide a comprehensive model for how to develop and guide successful change within organizations. It will also provide a detailed assessment of the actions of successful leaders and some thoughts on how to develop such a leadership pipeline within your organization. The focus is not just on senior leadership but also on those in the middle. It will provide a personal leadership roadmap for those seeking to develop those skills in themselves. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • Leadership as dynamic relationship between managing vertically and horizontally
  • Mobilizing and driving change to adapt to turbulent market conditions
  • Embracing a mindset of playing to win
  • Skills and behaviors of a real change leader
  • How to operate as a leader without much formal power
  • Mobilizing and driving change from the middle
Leading and Managing Organizational Change

The vast majority of both major and minor change initiatives in enterprises fail. In this session we examine some of the typical pitfalls that firms face when they embark on change initiatives. We look at new models of successful change and consider both the role of leaders and also of followers in initiating and managing the successful transformation inside organizations. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • How to define a change strategy inside your organization
  • A roadmap for executing a change strategy that works
  • Balancing top-down with bottom-up initiatives
  • Key pitfalls in leading change efforts inside your organization

Designing High Growth Organizations

Unbossing an Organization

What are some successful pathways to driving delegation within your organizations? This interactive lecture will provide a comprehensive model for how to develop and guide an “unbossing” environment within organizations. It will also provide a detailed assessment of the attributes of successful leaders who operate this way and some thoughts on how to develop such a leadership pipeline within your organization. The focus is not just on senior leadership but also on those in the middle. It will provide a personal leadership roadmap for those seeking to develop those skills in themselves. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • Leadership as dynamic relationship between leading and following
  • How to operate as a leader without much formal power
  • Mobilizing and driving delegation at all levels
  • Attributes and skill set of a real delegating leader
Build an Entrepreneurial Mindset

Many business leaders of established organizations do lip-service to the need for building an entrepreneurial mindset within their organizations. Yet turning these ideas into action remains an elusive proposition. In this interactive lecture we will first explore just what an entrepreneurial mindset is. Using cases from both startups and established organizations from around the world we will first explore some of the facets of this mindset which include proactivity, courage, learning orientation, collaborative non-zero sum thinking, and a positive identification with their organization. We will then turn to case studies of large organizations that have successfully embedded such a mindset within their organization. Finally, we will conclude with a discussion of how each participant can cultivate such a mindset within themselves and also within those around them.

Building Agile Organizations

Spurred by visions of an uncertain future and haunted by intense competition, companies are rushing to realize the goal of becoming agile organization.  Despite the increasing need for agility in a competitive business environment there are few paradigms of how companies can become more agile.  This session presents a roadmap of the stages through which companies evolve as they embark on this journey towards greater agility. Through a series of cases about firms in a range of industries that have successfully embarked on some of these changes, we will develop a comprehensive blueprint for agile organization. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • What is organizational agility?
  • Is agility right for you?
  • Obstacles to formulating and implementing an agile organization
  • The road to building an agile organization
  • The role of leadership across all levels in embedding agility within their organization
Building High Growth Organization

It is not an easy undertaking to achieve success in today’s volatile economy. There are few templates or models for sustained success. In this interactive lecture, we will explore a truism – customer centricity – to understand its relevance and meaning for organizations today. Most organizations embrace the notion that their customers come first, but few companies can actually deliver on that promise. 

Firms seeking to make customer centricity or outside-in thinking into something more than just a catchy corporate slogan have to confront a number of external and internal challenges. We will explore a broad range of hidden obstacles that can limit organizations from achieving their goals. Some of these include strategies for bridging internal silos that slow down decision making and foster an internal focus; hiring and developing “T-shaped” managers who can manage both vertically within authority boundaries as well as horizontally across authority boundaries; and overcoming the “knowing-doing gap” whereby we limit our ability to embrace lasting change.  

We will elaborate on the importance of a play-to-win mindset for achieving market success through genuine customer centricity. We will define what it means and discuss strategies that winning sports coaches use to get their teams to become winning teams, drawing out the lessons that offer broader application.

Failing to Scale

Many entrepreneurial ventures fail not because of an inability to attract customers, but because of their failure to evolve their organizations. In this session we will discuss the Micromax case to elaborate on challenges fast growth organizations face as they grow. Many new ventures like Micromax are adept at gauging unmet market needs and creating novel offerings. However, they fail to understand how to scale their organizations such that they can retain their entrepreneurial spirit that drives growth but also achieve scale through which they can be more productive and efficient. Finding this balance of apparently conflicting demands is a necessity in the increasingly competitive and dynamic marketplace we see today. We will end with a short lecture that discusses some of the best practices among those ventures that break away and achieve fast growth.

Reinforce Your Growth Culture

Sports coaches frequently refer to the notion of “playing to win” versus “playing not to lose.” Business executives have embraced this distinction as a way to comprehend a common pathology in many organizations that stop growing. We will elaborate on this distinction to uncover what it means for you as a leader personally, but also for how you might lead your organizations going forward. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • What is playing to win?
  • What is playing not to lose? Why do many individuals and organizations  fall under the spell of playing not to lose?
  • How do large and successful organizations overcome the spell of playing not to lose and shift towards playing to win?
  • Leveraging customer centricity as a vehicle for growth
  • What are some leadership imperatives for making this shift?
Structure for Growth

In the present context, firms are witnessing dramatic shifts in the competitive landscape with intensified competition and increasing commoditization of offerings. Consequently, firms are struggling with finding ways to organize themselves to be both product leaders while also getting closer to their customers. They must simultaneously be cost leaders while also being on the cutting edge of innovation. The challenges organizations face in such a context are not only strategic but also organizational.  In this session we consider some of the latest organizational strategies that industry leaders are pursuing. We will discuss in detail when to organize around customer, product, function, or geography or some combination thereof. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • The architecture of the new organization
  • Linking your strategy with your organization
  • Core business processes in the new organization
  • The role of new leaders in these organizations
Unleashing Growth Through Silo-Bridging

Those firms seeking to make customer centric solutions into something more than just a catchy corporate slogan, have to confront their internal siloes that are typically anchored around products or geography. They face the dilemma of whether to swap out their old siloes with new customer oriented ones or retain the old siloes but then seek out ways to transcend those existing siloes so that they operate in a more synchronous way. This lecture will not only elaborate on when firms should bust old siloes and when they should transcend them, but it will provide a detailed discussion of the tactics to manage such efforts. Managers will learn about to build internal bridges across siloes and gain insights into how to become those effective bridge builders. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • When to bust and when to bridge existing siloes
  • Strategies for connecting internal siloes to ensure synchronicity
  • Individual strategies for managerial survival on the intersection of siloes
  • How to become a bridge builder across siloes
Building Customer-Centric Organizations

Companies looking to grow in commoditizing markets like to say that they want to become more customer centric. But few companies can actually deliver on that promise. Most companies are organized into product-focused business units that allow them to develop deep knowledge and expertise, but that obscure a holistic picture of customers and their needs. Building on my recent research into the challenges of top- and bottom-line growth, I have found that customer centricity can be a powerful vehicle to build outside-in solutions to stimulate growth. 

However, those firms seeking to make customer centric solutions into something more than just a catchy corporate slogan, have to confront a number of internal challenges. The first obstacle discussed will be organizational siloes that are typically anchored around products, geography, or function. This lecture will not only elaborate on when firms should bust old siloes and when they should transcend them, but it will provide a detailed discussion of the tactics to manage such efforts. We will also discuss the role of “T-shaped” managers, who can manage both vertically within authority boundaries as well as horizontally across authority boundaries, in building such silo bridges. We will conclude with a discussion of the “knowing-doing gap” to discuss how organizations that embrace customer centricity don’t always achieve it. A broad range of hidden obstacles that can limit organizations from achieving their goals will be discussed.

Designing Next Generation Organizations

In the present context, firms are witnessing dramatic shifts in the competitive landscape with intensified competition and increasing commoditization of offerings. Consequently, firms are struggling with finding ways to organize themselves to be both product leaders while also getting closer to their customers. They must simultaneously be cost leaders while also being on the cutting edge of innovation. How do organizations deal with these seemingly competing sets of demands? In this session we consider some of the latest organizational strategies that industry leaders are pursuing. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • The architecture of the new organization
  • Linking your strategy with your organization
  • Core business processes in the new organization
  • The role of new leaders in these organizations
Unleashing the Marketing Potential of Your Organization

Marketing remains of the most underutilized functions within organizations. In many organizations, instead of holding the elixir for driving organic growth it becomes a staff support organization that generates valuable insights that rarely get used. In this session we will build on my article in the Harvard Business Review and explore how some organizations have found ways to make marketing a strategic function that drives its agenda for growth. Intead of becoming a “staff” organization it is viewed as closely aligned with the “line” organization of the firm. We will discuss some of the key success factors that allow this to happen. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • Identify and explore the essential foundations for making marketing a strategic function within organizations
  • Examine some of the newest organizational structures and strategies to mobilize and utilize marketing insights in strategic decision making
  • Investigate how marketers in leading firms in a range of industries use creative strategies to make themselves more relevant
  • Cultivate an understanding of how to drive a culture of marketing driven decision making inside organizations

Growth Strategies for Turbulent Times

Why Do Great Companies Derail?

This talk will explore why great companies derail and delineate some of the underlying reasons. We will look at some of the strategic, organizational, and people issues that may drive these outcomes. We will distill lessons for present-day organizations to avoid derailing and pursue market success.

Leveraging a Customer-Focused Strategy to Drive Growth

Spurred by visions of the future and haunted by intense competition, companies are rushing to realize the goal of creating a customer-focused organization.  Despite the increasing need for a customer-focused strategy in a competitive business environment there are few paradigms of how companies can change their strategy and organization to become customer focused.  This session presents a roadmap of the stages through which companies evolve as they embark on this journey towards greater market focus. Through a series of cases about firms in a range of industries that have successfully embarked on some of these changes, we will develop a comprehensive blueprint for the market driven organization. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • What is a customer driven strategy?
  • Is a customer driven strategy right for you?
  • Obstacles to formulating and implementing a customer driven strategy
  • The road to building a customer driven organization
Achieving Efficiency and Growth

To achieve profitable growth in today’s volatile economy requires becoming more efficient while also driving ever greater value to your customers. Doing “more with less” necessitates learning how to be maniacal about looking at all your activities through the lens of your customers. Through this it becomes easier to then distill where to devote resources and also where to cut back. We will analyze companies in the present context, discuss case studies, and identify how and where you should make changes to the way you think about strategy and resource decisions.  Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • Identify and explore the essential foundations for driving growth through competitive advantage
  • Examine some of the newest ways to drive greater productivity in a dynamic environment
  • Investigate how leading firms in a range of industries use creative growth strategies to build and sustain profitable market positions
  • Cultivate an understanding of how to drive profitable growth by simultaneously pursuing greater efficiency and customer-centered growth through case studies 
Digital Transformation
We will explore how digital transformation is having a major impact on most industries on both the demand and supply sides of their businesses and will explore each in turn. On the demand side, we will assess how this transformation is reshaping the way organizations engage with their customers and markets not only in what they sell but also how they sell and how they get paid. And on the supply sides, we will examine how it is transforming not only industry supply chains, but also core activities such as R&D and manufacturing. Beyond these two broad arenas, we will also explore how a digital transformation is reshaping firms’ architecture that in turn transforms how they organize and coordinate their own activities. Digitization creates new opportunities for organizing that will be explored and discussed. We will conclude with a discussion of how this transformation is reshaping the activities firms do in-house versus working with partners. The rapid increase of partnerships will be examined with an assessment of their benefits and also pitfalls.
Outside-In Growth Strategies for Turbulent Times
To achieve success in today’s volatile economy is not an easy undertaking. There are few templates or models for sustained success. In this lecture we will explore a truism-customer centricity- to understand its relevance and meaning for organizations today. Most organizations embrace the notion that their customers come first, but few companies can actually deliver on that promise.

Those firms seeking to make customer centricity or outside-in thinking into something more than just a catchy corporate slogan, have to confront a number of external and internal challenges. A broad range of hidden obstacles that can limit organizations from achieving their goals will be discussed. Some of these include strategies for bridging internal silos that slow down decision making and foster an internal focus, hiring and developing “T-shaped” managers who can manage both vertically within authority boundaries as well as horizontally across authority boundaries, and overcoming the “knowing-doing gap” whereby we limit our ability to embrace lasting change. . 

We will finally elaborate on the importance of a play-to-win mindset for achieving market success through genuine customer centricity. We will not only define what it means but also discuss strategies that winning sports coaches use to get their teams to become winning teams. Lessons that emerge from this with broader application will be discussed.

Driving Profitable Growth in Turbulent Markets

To achieve growth in today’s volatile economy requires leveraging more than just traditional assets. Intangible assets in the form of customer relationship management, branding, organizational design along with traditional assets like property rights have become important pillars of competitive advantage. In the present context, firms are witnessing dramatic shifts in the competitive landscape with intensified competition and increasing commoditization of offerings. Spurred by visions of a dismal future and haunted by intense competition, companies are rushing to cut costs across the board. At the same time there are others who view this time as opportune to break away from the pack. While others are hunkering down, these few are running forward. How do such organizations deal with the seemingly competing sets of demands of cutting back and investing in the future? What do they do to expand while others contract? What tangible and intangible assets do they leverage to drive profitable growth?  How do you break through the inevitable trade-off between driving volume growth or maintaining margin in an increasingly competitive marketplace? In this session, we learn to think more creatively about leveraging your tangible and intangible assets as you develop strategies for growth. We will analyze companies in the present context, discuss case studies, and identify how and where you should make changes to the way you think about strategy and resource decisions.  Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • Identify and explore the essential foundations for driving growth through competitive advantage
  • Examine some of the newest organizational structures and strategies to continually modify those that work best in a dynamic environment
  • Investigate how leading firms in a range of industries use creative growth strategies to build and sustain profitable market positions
  • Cultivate an understanding of how to drive growth through case studies
Redefining Innovation

To achieve success in today’s volatile economy many firms look to innovation as the secret sauce for their success. However, in the present context, firms are witnessing dramatic shifts in the competitive landscape with intensified competition and increasing commoditization of offerings leading to diminishing returns from innovation. Spurred by visions of a dismal future and haunted by intense competition, companies are rushing to find ways to make their R & D investments more productive. We will analyze companies in the present context, discuss case studies, and identify how and where you should make changes to the way you lead and make resource decisions.  Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • Identify and explore the essential foundations for the shift from products to services to solutions
  • Investigate how firms in a range of industries use platform innovation to build and sustain profitable market positions with top and bottom line growth in difficult markets
  • Cultivate an understanding of how some firms leverage open innovation to tap into a dispersed resource base
Strategic thinking for Turbulent Markets: building a breakaway strategy

To achieve success in today’s volatile economy is viewed by many as simply looking for avenues for survival. In the present context, firms are witnessing dramatic shifts in the competitive landscape with intensified competition and increasing commoditization of offerings. Spurred by visions of a dismal future and haunted by intense competition, companies are rushing to cut costs across the board. At the same time there are others who view this time as opportune to break away from the pack. While others are hunkering down, these few are running forward. How do such organizations deal with the seemingly competing sets of demands of cutting back and investing in the future? What do they do to expand while others contract? What tangible and intangible assets do they leverage to create advantage?  We will analyze companies in the present context, discuss case studies, and identify how and where you should make changes to the way you lead and make resource decisions.  Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • Identify and explore the essential foundations for building competitive advantage in turbulent markets
  • Investigate how firms in a range of industries use creative strategies to build and sustain profitable market positions with top and bottom line growth in difficult markets
  • Cultivate an understanding of how these firms actually implement some of these changes to ensure success
Executing on the Promise of Customer Focus

Companies looking to grow in commoditizing markets like to say that they offer customer solutions—products and services bundled into packages that are hard to copy and can command a premium price. But few companies can actually deliver on that promise. Most companies are organized into product-focused business units that allow them to develop deep knowledge and expertise, but that obscure a holistic picture of customers and their needs. Building on my recent research into the challenges of top- and bottom-line growth, I have found that creating customer solutions can be a powerful way to stimulate growth—but only if companies are able to transcend their organizational silos to marshal all of their resources, including new technologies, toward delivering customer-focused solutions. For marketers, making this shift will involve a rethinking of their roles, the development of new skills, and in some cases, and creative agreements with external partners to both keep costs in line and enhance the appeal of solutions.
Using case examples of b-2-b and b-2-c companies, this lecture vividly demonstrates how marketers can creatively develop higher value customer solutions. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • Strategic dilemmas in commodity markets
  • Rationale for the rise of customer solutions
  • Market impediments to solutions as a key differentiator
  • Internal siloes as roadblocks to customer centric solutions
Building Strategic Advantage in Turbulent Markets

To achieve success in today’s volatile economy requires leveraging more than just traditional assets. Intangible assets in the form of customer relationship management, branding, organizational design and property rights have become important off balance sheet pillars of competitive advantage. In this session, we learn to think more creatively about leveraging your tangible and intangible assets as you develop strategies for building a sustainable competitive advantage. We will analyze companies in the present context, discuss case studies, and identify how and where you should make changes to the way you think about strategy and resource decisions.  Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • Identify and explore the essential foundations for building competitive advantage
  • Examine some of the newest organizational structures and strategies to continually modify those that work best in a dynamic environment
  • Investigate how leading firms in a range of industries use creative strategies to build and sustain profitable market positions
FROM PRODUCTS TO SOLUTIONS: WHEN, WHY, AND HOW?

A new mantra for many organizations today is to become a solution-centered organization. For some firms it is about enhancing the service content associated with their products and for others it is about extending their reach from selling products to selling experiences. While there is much talk of moving away from the old product-centric form to a new solution-centric organization, there is limited understanding of what this precisely means and how to go about it. In this session we will discuss the multiple facets of effective solutions. Using several recent case studies, we will examine some of the key enablers that allow firms to architect, sell, and implement solutions. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • What is a solution?
  • Key facets of an effective solution
  • Pricing and selling solutions
  • Building solution driven organizations

Architecting Successful Collaboration

Partnerships in Turbulent Markets

To achieve success in today’s volatile economy is viewed by many as simply looking for avenues for survival. In the present context, firms are witnessing dramatic shifts in the competitive landscape with intensified competition and increasing commoditization of offerings. Spurred by visions of a dismal future and haunted by intense competition, companies are rushing to cut costs across the board. At the same time there are others who view this time as opportune to break away from the pack. While others are hunkering down, these few are running forward. How do such organizations deal with the seemingly competing sets of demands of cutting back and investing in the future? What do they do to expand while others contract? What tangible and intangible assets do they leverage to create advantage?  We will discuss how some companies succeed by “shrinking their core and expanding their periphery” whereby they leverage partners for activities close to their core that may be key inputs while at the same time also connecting with others who offer complementary products and services and in turn allow them to expand their periphery of offerings to their customers. We will thus focus in particular on the role of strategic partnerships in driving advantage for firms in these difficult times.

We will start by discussing how firms are now operating in an ever more interconnected world of business in which they have to connect with other organizations up and down the value chain. However, most firms have yet to measure and manage these key strategic relationships.  This session will present the concept of “relational capital” – the idea that firms need to think of their relationships as key assets that must be managed effectively. At the same time, we will discuss how smart firms are strategic about the activities they will externalize and those that they must retain in-house. In looking externally they also distinguish between those ties that are arms-length outsourcing arrangements and those that are strategic partnerships.

We will also discuss how at the same time that strategic partnerships have become central to success in the present economy, there is evidence that more than half of them fail. By reviewing some of the best and worst practices, you will identify and discuss critical factors for the formation and management of successful partnerships. The session will discuss how to manage relationships with customers, suppliers, alliance partners for competitive advantage.  Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • The imperatives of relationships
  • A classification of different types of alliances and the challenges with each form
  • Redefining external relationships: alliances, suppliers, and customers
  • Building interpersonal connections: enhancing trust and creating win-win partnerships
  • Why alliances fail?
  • How to build alliances that work
  • How to partner with competitors and win
  • Creating trust in win-win alliances
  • Managing a network of partnerships
Silo-busting: transcending barriers to build high growth organizations

Those firms seeking to make customer centric solutions into something more than just a catchy corporate slogan, have to confront their internal siloes that are typically anchored around products or geography. They face the dilemma of whether to swap out their old siloes with new customer oriented ones or retain the old siloes but then seek out ways to transcend those existing siloes so that they operate in a more synchronous way. This lecture will not only elaborate on when firms should bust old siloes and when they should transcend them, but it will provide a detailed discussion of the tactics to manage such efforts. Managers will learn about to build internal bridges across siloes and gain insights into how to become those effective bridge builders. Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • When to bust and when to bridge existing siloes
  • Strategies for connecting internal siloes to ensure synchronicity
  • Individual strategies for managerial survival on the intersection of siloes
  • How to become a bridge builder across siloes
Relational Capital: managing relationships as resources

Firms are now operating in an ever more interconnected world of business in which they have to connect with other organizations up and down the value chain. However, most firms have yet to measure and manage these key strategic relationships.  This session will present the concept of “relational capital” – the idea that firms need to think of their relationships as key assets that must be managed effectively.  The session will discuss how to manage relationships with customers, suppliers, alliance partners and across internal business units for competitive advantage.  Some of the topics discussed will include:

  • The imperatives of relationships
  • Redefining external relationships: alliances, suppliers, and customers
  • Transforming internal relationships: cross business unit, mergers and acquisitions
  • Building interpersonal connections: enhancing trust and creating win-win partnerships