Patterns of Strategy Projects

Case Studies

Patterns of Strategy Projects

Service Provider or Strategic Partner?

An IT organisation within a global pharmaceutical organisation felt itself to be – and was seen as – a service provider rather than a strategic partner to the wider organisation.  Using Fractal’s approach to understanding structural relationships, the organisation gained insight into the factors creating the current dynamic.  They could then create a clear and focused plan to update their service portfolio and degree of proactivity, to enhance the relationship between them and the organisation.

Developing a strategy for a software company

The existing value proposition had reached maturity and a new proposition and strategy were needed.

The development process started with the production of a set of strategic scenarios to enable the leadership team to get to grips with the trends, inevitabilities and uncertainties that faced them in their new direction. From this, potential opportunities were identified, short listed and crystallised into a new market opportunity. A strategy was developed that took into account the capabilities of the organisation and its position in the marketplace. A change programme was developed and implemented resulting in a new market and focus for the organisation.

Futures Radar Projects

Visualising External Opportunities and Threats

This IT and transformation group within a large pharmaceutical organisation had a range of short- and long-term external drivers, such as virtualisation, changes to sourcing, software as a service, geographic shifts in the core business. It was difficult to interpret the timing and potential impact of these disparate themes. Our consultant supported the group to capture these threats, opportunities and trends by visualising them on a ‘radar’ plot, together with a supplementary commentary and recommendations. This changed a disparate and tacit knowledge base into a comprehensive decision support information for senior managers.

Strategic Risk Projects

Corporate Intelligence & Strategic Risk Management in a Bank

This group within the Bank’s headquarters faced a set of serious threats. Some of these were internal, some external and many were interacting, providing a complex set of problems that needed to be understood and addressed quickly. Fractal designed a ‘Congruence’ workshop that allowed all members of the team to contribute their understanding of the strategic risks and how these interacted and then to develop a holistic action plan.

Strategic Risk in a Public Sector Organisation

With a reformed senior management team following a serious threat of closure by the regulator, Fractal designed a workshop that allowed all members of the team to contribute their understanding of the strategic risks and how these interacted and then to develop a holistic action plan.

Strategic Risk in an Engineering Company

Faced with huge changes being demanded by one of its principal customers, this medium sized engineering company was threatened with bankruptcy. Fractal provided a Strategic Risk assessment. As well as the threats that were apparent in non-compliance, the analysis also revealed significant hidden problems associated with compliance. The analysis provided both a clear picture of the available options, and the costs and benefits of each. The company survived the threat.

Congruence Projects

From Conflict to Agreed Strategy

Members of the senior leadership team of this large IT company had been in conflict about the direction the company should take and specifically shifting the balance from products towards service based operations. Fractal ran a two day ‘Congruence’ workshop with around 30 of the senior team and rising young managers. Over the two days the group debated a series of themes in parallel and emerged with a consolidated and coherent position on the way forward that everyone had agreed to.

Developing Strategy in an IT Company

This medium sized IT company was facing a gap in its product pipeline and the threat of a catastrophic loss of its market. Fractal ran a two day ‘Congruence’ workshop with the senior management team that looked at opportunities for new markets, technology opportunities, untapped potential in the existing market, industry factors and how to manage change. The group emerged with a coherent strategy and a list of market opportunities. A year later the MD reported almost all of the decisions taken had been put into action.

Resolving Political Tensions in a Professional Body

This professional group was experiencing significant tensions as it developed and grew. A one day ‘Congruence’ workshop was run with members to agree the future direction in a way that would be acceptable to all. A plan was developed which allowed the group to first recognise and then accept its diversity of interest more readily.

Corporate Intelligence & Strategic Risk Management in an International Bank

The risk management group within a Bank’s headquarters faced a set of serious threats. Some of these were internal, some external and many were interacting, providing a complex set of problems that needed to be understood and addressed quickly. Fractal designed a ‘Congruence’ workshop that allowed all members of the team to contribute their understanding of the strategic risks and how these interacted and then to develop a holistic action plan.

Developing Strategy in a Professional Body

The regional group of a professional institute wanted to glean insights on members’ needs and interests to inform their strategy and development plan. Fractal ran a short ‘Congruence’ workshop which produced an integrated set of outcomes. These then formed the basis of the strategic development for the next two years.

Organisation Diagnosis Projects

E-Business in a UK Clearing Bank

The re-organisation of this national clearing bank into centres of excellence (e.g. call centres, service centres) had been intended to provide a nationwide service. An unexpected consequence was the fracturing of the integrated service previously received through the branch network. An in-depth analysis of the organisational structure of the bank, combined with process mapping enabled the creation of mechanisms to re-integrate the service to the customer.

Restructuring IS in a Pharmaceuticals Company

Applying the Viable System Model to the parent organisation showed misalignment of the IS department to the needs of the business, which led onto this exercise in analysis and redesign of the IS department. The department had been seen as over-centralised, remote and as providing a poor service to its internal customers.  Analysis had shown that an even more significant problem was about to hit the department since it was not structured to be able to effectively deliver the big cross-company program changes that were due to be introduced. The restructuring led to a closer identification between IS support teams and their customers, and to an improvement in their capacity to deliver company-wide programs effectively.

Recommending Structural Change in a University Department

This teaching school within a university had significant problems, with toxic relationships between the school management team and the rest of the staff, and extreme levels of stress.  Diagnosis using the Viable System Model found a near-absence of any organisational structure or management processes, making it virtually impossible for the staff to deliver, except through unsustainable individual and team heroics.  Recommendations to implement effective structures into the school gave the management team and the staff a clear programme to collaborate on, building bridges and co-developing a better place to work for all.

Settling the Centralise-Decentralise Debate in a Sales Function

An international materials supplier delivered on a national and local basis. Some contracts could be made to supply nationally and drawn off locally over the period of the contract; others were one-off. This mixture of local and global concerns for one function made the issue of centralisation and decentralisation extremely complex. The models developed through an organisational analysis improved the company’s understanding of the important issues. Providing strong integrating mechanisms allowed the company to centralise those aspects that required global consideration whilst leaving local service provision decentralised.

Structural Review in a Large NHS Teaching Hospital

Following a major restructuring, the largest division in this hospital was undergoing problems. These intractable problems were very ill defined, and apparently interlinked. Organisational diagnosis of the divisional structure of the hospital using the Viable System Model revealed how a set of systemic problems were disadvantaging this division at both an operational and a strategic level, giving rise to this set of problem symptoms. Using System Dynamics modelling showed the heavily interdependent nature of their most acute organisational problems. An integrated plan was developed to tackle a range of systemic problems in a structured and developmental way.

Restructuring to cope with Cuts

The information support services in a large pharmaceutical company faced cuts in funding together with changes in priorities from their internal customer base. The challenge for the leadership team was to maintain as many of their existing key services whilst extending to cover new priorities whilst cutting costs. Fractal developed a process that allowed the leadership team to assess organisation options to find the one that offered the greatest resilience to both the immediate changes being threatened and those likely in the medium term.

Restructuring for Privatisation

A publicly owned research organisation was threatened with major changes as it and its industry moved towards the private sector. Organisational analysis helped the organisation recognise the differences in structure that they needed to operate effectively as an independent business rather than in their traditional role as the intelligence unit for a large public sector body.

Organisation Design & Business Architecture Projects

Restructuring a Large IT Company

After years of consistent growth, this very successful IT company was facing a declining or flat market. There was no shortage of potential new products and services, but developing a set of new services that could replace the established range demanded completely different operating procedures, management focus, risk profiles and operating cycles across the development portfolio. We introduced the management team to the Viable System Model and worked with them to restructure the operational base and the management structure to anchor delivery of existing products and development of new ones into different divisions. The company reported significant increases in their ability to deliver their strategy.

Organisational Restructure in an Informatics Support Group

This pharmaceutical informatics department needed to change to be able to support changes in priorities from its internal clients. Over two days, Fractal took them through a rigorous decision process to formulate five organisational design options and choose between them against a set of decision criteria which we also developed. The team had been stuck for some time on the way forward, but using the design approach arrived at a strong agreement on their preferred option for organisational structure. They and also had the clarity necessary to convince their staff that this was the best option. Following this, we worked with them to further develop the design and the change process.

Restructuring Manufacturing in a Medium Sized Auto-Components Company

Operational failures were not only seriously affecting profitability, but also threatening the viability of this company. An analysis of work flows, the operating structure supporting them and decision-making, showed that chronic breakdown of production schedules was due to poor manufacturing structure. Fractal demonstrated the need for and advantages of cellular manufacturing to replace the organisational structure.

Streamlining Order Processing in a Medium Sized Auto-Components Company

This project integrated with the restructuring of manufacturing as the second phase of an organisational change project. Fractal analysed and redesigned order processing using the existing IT package to better effect. By disengaging the business process from the work process, we reduced the number of departments engaged in delivering a typical product order from six departments in nine locations to two departments, and the number of inter-departmental information transfers from sixteen to three.

Restructuring Operations in a Medium Sized Joinery Company

This Joinery manufacturer was faced with an opportunity for significant growth, but constrained by capacity issues. Fractal developed a new design for the organisational structure that significantly improved efficiency in terms of productivity, throughput time and use of space. This increased production by 40% within one week in one work area and the design process was repeated in a second workshop with similar results.

Organisational Agility Projects

Developing Organisational Agility in a Large Engineering Company

This international engineering company needed to develop its capability to address multiple challenges – an increase in demands on its core business coupled with a need to cut its prices and in parallel with that, a need to develop its offering overseas. A key factor on the project was developing an approach to enable the company to switch key resources quickly between strategic objectives to enable it address fluctuations in both domestic and overseas demands.

Developing Agility in a Large IT Company

Faced with unpredictability in rates of sales growth in their developing new markets, this IT company needed to significantly increase its agility so it could quickly redeploy resources from existing services into new services for developing markets to deal with exponential growth for its successful initiatives. Fractal helped the senior leadership team redesign their operating structure to allow the company to move resources to focus on new developments and support growth.

Developing Agility in a Mutual Financial Services Provider

This organisation was facing a series of strategic challenges: an opportunity to acquire a similar provider, uncertainty about its financial backers and an increase in regulation. Decision making by the board had become focused on operational issues and these strategic issues were being neglected. Redesigning the governance structure created more agility both in management and operations with teams delegated to address specific strategic and performance issues being brought together to provide a holistic picture for decision making.

Restructuring for Growth

This large engineering-based company had successfully developed new lines of business internationally, and needed to restructure its operations to handle substantially increased streams of demand.  Organisational analysis highlighted the critical importance of building the capability of operational teams to initiate, prioritise and carry through changes to operational processes.  This created the agility which the organisation required to be able to manage more complex and variable demand.

Performance Management Projects

Performance Management in a Public Sector Organisation

As part of a restructuring in response to a strategic risk, this public sector organisation needed to reassess its performance management structure. As is common in the public sector, government set some performance measures, but these were inadequate to ensure management that departments were operating effectively. In workshops with managers, it became clear that there were significant gaps in the performance management structure, which had led to confusion over roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities. Fractal worked with a management team to design a new performance structure and more appropriate measures.

Performance Management in an NGO

This NGO had never had an effective performance management structure. Its main activities were only measured at point of delivery which did not provide managers with timely information needed to prevent problems before they hit customers. Deadlines were regularly missed and managers had no usable information on either progress or quality. Fractal supported a dedicated team in designing a new approach to performance measurement, identifying performance thresholds, measures, decision points and reporting cycles.

Reviewing Performance Management in an Industrial Group

This group had undergone a restructuring to allow it to address more diverse markets. Fractal were asked to review of the performance management structure. This established that at two levels of the organisation, managers had no usable performance measures that would allow them to take decisions effectively. The holes in the Performance Management structure prevented effective governance, creating a strategic decision making vacuum and led to serious strategic mistakes being made.

Business Eco-systems Projects

Developing Nuclear Waste Management Eco-Systems

This EU funded project involved reviewing the nuclear waste management systems in two EU countries. The purpose was to understand the structural underpinnings of decision-making, and specifically how this related to the enormous problems of public confidence that affect the industry. In each case, the “system” involved the whole industry interacting as an eco-system, with different organisations playing very different roles in relation to one another. Outcomes from the study were a set of recommendations in each case for improving the structure of decision making to improve the transparency and accountability of the system.

Eco-Systems Development for Third Sector Providers

A group of third sector providers that were contracted to a public sector organisation were under pressure to consolidate their operations so their clients and the public sector funder would have less complexity to deal with. What ensued was a battle for position between the set of providers. Fractal worked with one of the providers to model the eco-system of organisations and the relationships between them. From this we developed a strategy for the business and a negotiation strategy for building the alliances necessary to manage the consolidation and broker an agreement with the public sector body in the way that was most advantageous for the client.

Partnership Governance

Designing Partnership Governance for an IT Outsource

A large IT provider bidding for a large government contract needed a partnership structure that would allow it to work effectively alongside the existing in house IT teams. A ladder partnership governance structure provided a rigorous framework for establishing joint development and accountability in decision making, coupled with an ability to introduce innovations at different levels, so that the needs of governance didn’t stifle change and flexibility.

Developing Partnership in Health Centres to Improve Health and Social Outcomes

Fractal was asked to develop a model for partnership working to help Health Centres partner with a range of health professionals and social organisations to increase access – particularly in to hard to reach groups – and to integrate care and support. Trials showed significant improvements in both access and take up of services from key target groups.

Developing a Strategic Partnership to Withstand the Impact of Cuts

A local authority had a professional support contract with a private sector company. Both sides regarded this as a strategic partnership and the relationship was good. When stringent public sector cuts were announced, they hit this relationship particularly hard. The private sector company was faced with a disproportionate hit on new projects and this impacted on their ability to maintain key skills within the area. Both parties had a reason to work together to solve this problem since hollowing out the skill base would harm both. We worked with them to identify a source of alternative income for the professional support team and so maintain key skills. This was identified from exploring the potential synergies that the partnership could develop together that neither could offer alone.

Developing a Strategic Partnership to create shared IP

This partnership between an R&D-based company and a large university was aimed at developing new intellectual property on a shared risk-reward basis.  Both organisations were highly motivated to deliver.  After six months, the partnership was floundering, with a reduction in trust between the partners and a consequent drop in productivity.  Our consultant demonstrated the elements which anchor in effective partnership working and supported the partnership in implementing them.

Developing Governance Audit Methodology for a National Government

The enormous and endemic problems of trying to establish control and stability in a volatile political environment led to this World Bank sponsored skills transfer project for the Columbian government. A methodology was developed using the Viable System Model to help the Columbian Contraloria to analyse and evaluate the structural and communications problems of their public sector organisations. This was then developed as training programme and a handbook.

Commissioning Projects

Reviewing Information Support for Commissioning

Fractal were asked to review the provision and use of intelligence for commissioning across a number of primary care trusts. Our diagnosis started with modelling the information needs of the commissioning process and then mapping the available information and its use to this model. This gave a very different perspective to the one the Trusts had adopted and revealed significant biases in the decision structure that had been caused by deficits in key areas of provision. This in turn revealed how little actual commissioning was being done.

Design of a Management Simulation to Develop Commissioning Skills

Fractal were asked by Cranfield School of Management to build a management simulation to provide senior decision makers of public services to practice their commissioning skills. The simulation has now been used by managers from over 30 public sector organisations.

Mergers & Acquisition Projects

Managing Post-Merger Integration

Two mail, delivery and advertising organisations merged, to create a greater regional presence, deliver cost efficiencies, and to combine their expertise to create synergies through new offerings.  As part of the integration planning, they jointly developed a capability model of the new merged organisation.  This helped them to consolidate their core capabilities, and also identify where capabilities needed to be strengthened to deliver the new services identified at the point of merger.  A useful by-product of the modelling work was the creation of strong personal relationships across the new organisation and a shared understanding of the direction and plans for the merged organisation.

Developing Management Structures to Integrate Acquisitions

The expansion by acquisition of this engineering mini-conglomerate from £30m to over £250m left the CEO with a problem. At £30m he knew most of the employees personally. As the company grew by acquisition, he was no longer able to manage through personal relationships and had to increase and improve the organisational relationships and management structures necessary to manage the company. Our consultant helped him design the management structures to manage the increased complexity of the growing company.

Rationalising the Divisional Structure in a Growing Group

This group had grown by acquisition from nine to around thirty subsidiaries. These had been assigned to divisions on a political basis to try and keep the divisions the same size. This complicated the interactions between the subsidiaries both in the market place and between operations. An analysis of market and operational concerns helped in the development of a divisional structure that optimised the co-ordination between the subsidiaries and between the divisions. This helped the divisions to develop coherent strategies that were integrated into an overall group strategy.

Integrating Acquisitions into a Group Structure

A group had been developed from a parent company and two acquired new business units, but the board found that there was considerable friction between the original company and the two new units. An analysis of the governance structure showed that the group management viewed the whole business as synonymous with the original parent business. This meant that the strategy of the group and group’s resources tended to be focused on the parent company, and the other units in the group were neglected. The project showed the need for a strategic capacity for each of the three units and for the integration of these into a strategy for the group as whole entity.

Mosaic Transformation Projects

Designing a Transformation Programme for an Engineering Company

This medium sized engineering company were faced with the need to radically transform the way they operated in order to meet demands from their most important clients for significantly increased levels of service. We designed a transformation programme using the Mosaic Transformation methodology that broke down a series of complex interlocking changes into manageable chunks, which could be tackled in a logical sequence with available resources. Each stage of the change process was designed to prepare the ground for the next stage of the programme.

Designing a Transformation Programme for a Public Sector Organisation

This large Public Sector provider needed to institute a programme to change the way it managed its operations. Structural change was politically unacceptable, so a series of changes to working practices and interdepartmental relationships was needed to overcome the problem of process breakdowns between departments. Fractal supported the design of an incremental change process that allowed management resource to be concentrated on achieving packages of change. High levels of staff involvement ensured that this change was driven by the staff affected, minimising the traditional problems of resistance.

Designing a Transformation Programme for a Manufacturing Company

This manufacturing company was struggling to cope with demand and was unable to expand due to shortages of skilled labour. Fractal recommended changes to the operational structure with a switch from functional departments to manufacturing cells. We helped to design a change process that integrated organisational change and the formation of the cell teams with major equipment changes. The organisational change was incremental and progressively reduced the burden on the hard pressed front line managers, as well as dramatically improving efficiency, turnover and delivery performance.

Portfolio & Benefits Management Projects

Managing a Portfolio of Transformation Projects

A large charity had a very unstructured approach to the selection and initiation of transformation programmes. Each was looked at individually, without reference to the impact on the wider organisation and the consequence was an organisation with change going on simultaneously in all of its core operations and, unsurprisingly, struggling to provide the management capacity to oversee and direct this volume and spread of change. Fractal provided expertise to help the charity design a portfolio process and prioritisation criteria to bring strategic alignment to their portfolio of transformational change.

Sequencing transformation through time

A global pharmaceutical company had a massive portfolio of IT-enabled change. This included a cyclic refresh and upgrade of underpinning infrastructure, and demand for new applications and application enhancements. In total, the cost of requirements exceeded available budget. Our consultant designed a portfolio process and prioritisation criteria which enabled the competing demands from different functions to be assessed for business impact, and ensured that necessary investment in infrastructure didn’t get squeezed out. This required phasing capital and revenue investment over several years, with careful definition of the dependencies between investments, and ensuring an even pipeline of benefits delivery to the organisation, aligned to business priorities.

Benefits of Partnership for Patient Health

An NHS trust had an ambitious agenda to integrate patient care, adult social care and lifestyle counselling for patients with long term medical needs in a deprived inner city area. It was, of course, critical to validate that the benefits to the patient of a single coordinated service at the point of use was worth the investment to deliver it. It was also important to ensure that the distribution of costs and the subsequent delivery of benefits across the different service providers was understood by all before the transformation programme took place. Our consultant took the stakeholders through a thorough benefits definition approach, to build shared clarity on the outcomes of the programme, and to reach agreement from all the service providers on the nature and timing of their contribution to the new integrated service for patients.

Grounding Benefits Definition in reality

In a large biopharmaceutical company, many high cost transformation programmes were initiated with an insubstantial business case, where the expected benefits were written as aspirations rather than demonstrable outcome from change. Fractal brought its benefits management methodology through a blend of training and programme consultancy to ensure that the programmes each had a validated set of benefits statements and a clear model of change to deliver them.

Dynamic Performance Management Projects

Real-Time Performance Management in an International Chemicals Company

The performance measurement system for this company was designed to operate in real-time, and to filter out ‘noise’ to help managers to focus on the real issues behind the figures. The measurement in real time allowed managers to react more quickly than traditional retrospective systems. The performance management system linked the efficiency of processes and the effectiveness of the process management at both operational and strategic levels. This direct linkage of performance measures to strategic objectives also gave the flexibility to easily change performance measures as objectives changed without requiring a complete re-arrangement of the performance management system.

Innovation Projects

Bringing a new innovation to market in the ICT market

This project involved the design, development and deployment of a strategy to bring a new and complex innovation to market. The development process involved all major stakeholders to ensure that the resultant strategy was appropriate and consistent with all of their needs. The process took into account technology and market maturity to ensure that the developed value proposition was synchronised with the emerging market. A target segment was identified and a range of services were developed to enable the company to address a mission critical issue within the chosen segment.

Developing Innovation Options in a Medium Sized IT Company

This IT service provider needed to develop new innovation opportunities quickly. Fractal was asked to run an innovation workshop to surface and test ideas. The management team developed and did first screen testing on over 20 innovation ideas, evaluating each against a mixed set of criteria including market factors, technical feasibility, and suitability of business models. From these, enough passed the screening criteria to provide enough innovation targets for the next 18 months.