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The Aim is to Win

Strategy Associates has been designed from the onset to be something different than a traditional management consulting firm. Our Quality Policy and commitment is to help our clients win - that is, to help design and implement courses of action and solve problems that harness sources of competitive advantage in innovative ways, thereby accelerating and expanding upon large reservoirs of value.

Helping clients gain and maintain a competitive advantage in today’s global, rapidly-shifting, competitive marketplace  demands  greater levels of creativity and flexibility. We strive to combine and recombine our people and our knowledge in ways appropriate to the unique circumstances of each of our client’s unique engagement needs.

This is why we refuse to adopt the geographically-based mode of organizational approach that many other consulting firms follow.

Yes, of course, we have offices around the world: five of them. But they are merely locations of convenience for our clients, not the organizational sites by and through which we manage ourselves. All of our core processes – six sigma measurement systems, business alliance development, client service, knowledge development, problem solving, e-business planning, Quality Management-Continuous Improvement-Teamwork, and the like — are managed virtually in Cyberspace.

What’s in it For You?

But what does this mean for you and your organization? Quite a lot, actually. It means that you will experience no artificial barriers, no time blackouts or lacunas, no quirks of internal transfer pricing, and no conflicting sets of incentives–things that typically get in the way of our deploying the right mix of people and knowledge against the specific opportunity areas and problems of specific clients. In other words, no structures to hinder the movement of our people to the work or location that makes most sense for the provision of the consulting services best suited to their needs and interests.

Strategy Associates’ commitment to smart and practical solutions also depends on our refusal to focus on tampering with a client’s processes to make them incrementally more efficient while leaving fundamental issues of measurement, cyber-marketing, strategy or competitive performance untouched. Yes, of course, we help clients redesign the ways they organize, as well as provide the needed infrastructure for the work they do. But we strongly believe that, in the vast majority of our assignments, the sources of any sustainable advantage do not rest solely, or even primarily, upon such tactical improvements, for they can be fairly easily copied and that is precisely what the competition is doing each and every day.

Strategic positioning cannot be copied or imitated. The work that matters – the truly interesting, intellectually challenging work – is not about things that are routinized or easily reduced to templates-by-the-numbers and steps in a manual. Strategic positioning which leads to competitive advantage is about innovative, out-of-the-box thinking, marketing strategies and logistics implementation, and moving at the speed of e-business in cyberspace.

For you this means relatively little time spent on repetitive processes and manually-driven tasks and much more time spent on the core issues of doing business in cyberspace, in developing and implementing strategy, in business building, and in honing the entrepreneurial edge. It means spending more time on the things that matter, both to your customers, your stakeholders, and your employees. It means spending more time in honing the practice of winning!

Our Commitment to Excellence

Our commitment to excellence depends on our refusal to organize ourselves as a series of industry-related or sector-based practices as so many of our competitors do. Of course, many of the people in our global network are recognized experts in the strategic issues facing leading firms in such areas as marketing, strategic planning, e-business commerce, six-sigma/quality management, IT and telecommunications, media and entertainment, community improvement and sustainability, and education. But we do not focus our energy or attention on building large industry databases, methodologies, and points of view which are often then deployed–essentially unchanged–against the special, distinctive issues of many different firms in that industry. Instead, at Strategy Associates, all of our consultants participate in performing original research, original analysis, original design, original problem definition, and original value creation. We believe that an out-of-the-box, winning solution cannot, by definition, be just like everyone else’s; nor can it be based on the same data, the same approaches, and the same frameworks; nor can it be brought into focus by gathering and then crunching every conceivable bit of data – a consulting practice affectionately known as “boiling the cauldron.”

Nor, for that matter, can such a solution be driven by an unfocused effort to deal with some large, ill-defined issue like “weak profits” or “cost
pressures.” Instead, it must start with a High-Impact Consulting approach containing some clear specifications of the explicit, bounded choices that client managers must make and the issues that affect the client’s bottom line. Managers cannot, after all, decide about and take action on every issue; they can only decide on — and then act on — one or another branch of well-structured choice-points. Framing that choice, clearly and precisely, depends on the synthesis and deployment of unique and relevant information, facts, insights, and research, as well as cutting-edge analytic tools and a focused point of view.

On Boiling the Cauldron

If we were organized by practice, tackled poorly-defined issues, and regularly “boiled the cauldron” as many consulting organizations often do, we could not help but swap masses of data and so-called best practice around an industry. To be sure, that might look like a sound, quick-moving engagement strategy and speak to a firm’s instinctive need to “do something,” and it might even improve that firm’s performance a bit. But, since the newly developed answer would be easily replicatible and available to many, it would not provide our clients with any true, sustainable competitive advantage.

Instead, our commitment to helping clients win depends on our refusal to act as if Henry Ford’s vision of his “my-way-or-the-highway” value proposition were still in force. Ford’s famous pronouncement that customers could have any color car they wanted so long as it was black has a disturbing parallel in thebundles of services offered by many consulting firms. Whatever the real client need, all too often the response is: “Yes, of course, we can help with that, but only if we use our standard project team with our standard consultant-centered objectives, for a standard length of time at standard fee levels.”

At Strategy Associates, we think that’s the wrong approach, both ethically and practically. For it is the opposite of our High-Impact Consulting model and eventually leads to trimming the client’s need to fit the structure and economics of the consulting firm’s delivery system, rather than adjusting the latter to accommodate the client’s bottom line.

A Virtual Consulting Practice

Because Strategy Associates is a virtual group company involving hundreds of expert consultants around the world, we often bundle our knowledge with a project team to deliver a consulting study, when that is what the client really needs. But we can also wrap it around a pedagogy such as Six Sigma and deliver a management training program through our affiliate Universities (University of Miami and Florida International University) when that is the best answer; or we can wrap it with world-class customer analysis methodologies and deliver original and actionable marketing strategies for competing in cyberspace; or wrap it with hands-on Internet savvy and deliver a web-based strategy through our Strategy Solutions Center and the E-Biz-Wiz; or we can wrap it with special expertise in real options and deliver a fundamental new way to value strategic planning, Balanced Scorecard measurement, and related courses of action .

This customized un-bundling and recombination of people and knowledge is possible because all our affiliated entities are linked together by a common knowledge architecture, a shared base of knowledge assets, a highly sophisticated interactive Website and Knowledge Center, and an easy flow of people. For client organizations, this means a greater opportunity for achieving competitive advantage. For our associates and alliance partners, this means, the possibility of a much greater variety of challenging projects and careers, specializations, colleagues, entrepreneurial opportunities, and contacts with world-class subject matter experts, both individual and institutional, around the globe.

Check out our website and let us know how we can help you win today!

Frank Voehl

Frank Voehl is the President and CEO of Strategy Associates and an Author and Series Editor of more than forty books covering the subjects of quality, innovation, change and business-cycle management. He is a former Chief Operating Officer and founding General Manager of FPL's Qualtec Quality Services, a Grand Master Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma, and a counselor/advisor to business and industry since 1985, both in the public and private sector. His academic background is in industrial engineering, math, philosophy, and law. He received his undergraduate degree from St. John's University, and did some graduate and theological studies. He is currently enrolled in the FSU/JMI Entrepreneurial Development Studies Program, and is a Senior Mentor with Take Stock in Children.