Most everything we do is at the leading edge of the growth cycle, a type of work that happens infrequently and requires skills, experience and a viewpoint that can be difficult to cultivate in an efficient, operationally-focused organization. That could be a volatile mix. The team at Sherpa Strategic take great pride in bridging with your team while lighting the path, easing the load, and accelerating the effort.
As an extension of our ethos, there are three unique fundamentals embedded in all of Sherpa Strategic’s deliverables:
1. The speed of the cycles. The early mentors of our methodology were recognized leaders in the commercial application of creativity principles and sociological research, as well as pioneers in using deeper input from a smaller group of carefully selected perspectives to rapidly test thinking, focus the inquiry, and refine the proposition. It’s faster, it’s more cost-efficient, and it leads to more actionable insights. It’s in our DNA.
2. The thinking behind the recommendation. We believe both creativity and business discipline are crucial to success, but important in different ways and at different points in the program lifecycle. We respect both perspectives – it takes creativity to stand apart in a crowded marketplace, and it takes equal parts of empathy for the user’s desires and the business’ realities to achieve a model that works.
3. The way we report out. Highly interactive and collaborative techniques are at the core of most everything we do. The final report out is not a slide deck — it’s an informed conversation. The process design and the data reveal help ensure there is common understanding around the findings & implications as well as buy-in among the people in your organization who are responsible for taking action.
One of the most powerful perspectives Sherpa Strategic brings is the ability to connect the dots between challenges and dynamics that are similar to the ones you are facing, across multiple industries and environments.
Our rich base of experience includes:
- Health Care & Technology
- Highly Engineered & Industrial Products
- Financial Services
- Distribution and Channel Management
- Consumer Goods
- Venture Capital and Institutional Investing
Clients leverage Sherpa Strategic for turnkey support or as subject matter experts that complement their team:
Scouting: If there is such thing as a Special Forces librarian, this may well be it: practical, tactical, fast moving – and unapologetically intended to establish a strategic advantage. We draw on a diverse range of strengths within the team and decades of experience in figuring out what’s probably just over the horizon, before you get there, so that your team is able to respond pre-emptively and avoid potentially costly knee-jerk reactions. A scouting initiative combines tools from competitive intelligence, economics, scans of business, social and technology trends. Often it also includes targeted in-depth inquiries with lead users, thought leaders and industry executives.
Opportunity Definition: An early form of the business case – and often used to pitch prospective investors or strategic partners — this analysis lays out where there is a business opportunity; who are the users, influencers and purchasers that care about it and why; the nature of competition in this marketplace; potential intellectual property challenges; and rough parameters of what is needed to hit financial targets for growth or return on investment.
Marketing & Technical Requirements: Direct Voice of the Customer (VOC) input is a necessary step, and yet the insights will almost certainly come from a multi-structure inquiry that helps unearth the workarounds, unmet needs, and unanticipated possibilities that are the foundation for differentiation and IP advantages going forward. Among the data collection and classification methods we employ in establishing product and service requirements are: active and observational ethnography; mini-groups; structured and open-ended depth interviews; workflow analysis; cross-functional stakeholder inquiries; collaborative critique of conceptual and interaction models; technical block diagrams; and DMAIC/DMEDI House of Quality (typically House 1).
Technology & Channel Transfer: One of the ways to realize growth and higher incremental profitability is to tap into new customers who have an unmet need or a novel application for your technology, product or service product. The fastest path is often by getting into adjacent market spaces and new channels that add large volumes of possibility – not finding another way to carve up the pie you already have. We help your leadership understand the users’ needs and perceptions, your competitive levers, channel structure and dynamics, as well as business considerations such as utilization, margin impact and potential for brand dilution.
Screening, Verification & Validation: More than 70% of your designed-in cost is locked when you set requirements, though either support requirements, parts obsolescence or production requirements. Perhaps the cheapest insurance you can buy is a strategic and constructive approach to evaluating the appeal, differentiation and usability of your products before the budgets and KPIs are set. To make sure your business has the best opportunity to adapt and respond to competitive threats, we conduct collaborative debriefs and simulations using a range of stimuli and prototypes which advance from conceptual to production-equivalent. Screening helps prioritize potential executions, verification tests whether a concept meets expectations (both articulated and unanticipated), and verification ensures the solution is delivering against requirements and competitive positioning goals.
Facilitated Strategic Planning: How would you like to slash the time you dedicate to operationally-effective strategic planning by 50% or more, and have your team more committed to and energized about the action items? Leaders rarely have the bandwidth to dedicate to tasks outside their core responsibilities, and there is a fundamental imbalance that occurs when a manager or peer takes the lead in conducting strategic reviews and driving the group to a decision. When you engage a Sherpa Strategic resource, you gain a seasoned, objective perspective on the forward-looking elements of your business. You also gain an expert in managing the process – planning the details, managing expectations around roles & responsibilities, keeping the team on task, allow the conversation to vary when it’s productive. And closing with clear assignments, milestones and due dates.
Portfolio Roadmapping: Equal parts art and science, with a little Sun Tzu thrown in for good measure. It takes practical analysis and effective negotiating to develop an integrated product and service offering that brings together a range of application environments and customer segments with an offering that is both profitable and operationally efficient. A portfolio roadmap helps identify the enabling technologies, needs & adoption, reference prices, and competitive listening posts that help keep your growth trending upwards.
Insight-led Open Innovation: Talk about kicked up a notch or three, thank you Emeril. Breakthroughs are not going to happen when your team is popping M&Ms and watching 8 demographic clones from behind a one way mirror, or when your biggest customers are dragged into a conference room or trade show VIP room. It might keep your sales from sliding, or off of the purchasing agent’s “no boat, no quote” list. Sherpa’s proprietary approach is immersive, bringing your team into more direct and stimulating contact with a diverse cross-section of users and influencers who have a perspective to share — and sound reasoning behind it. Do not confuse this with a focus group, customer advisory board or industry council. It’s more like a loosely-controlled nuclear reaction. It will probably feel uncomfortable at times, and you will walk away knowing things you didn’t before.
Security and Defense: Needless to say, the government sector is a unique animal. There are specific regulations that govern how a product needs to be designed and produced in order to be eligible for U.S. Military, Intelligence or Federal Agency business, as well as what modifications are acceptable in order to engage the significant global market of government entities that are influenced by U.S. practices, or can serve as proof-of-concept applications for innovations. Success in this marketplace also requires a focused but intensive approach to acclimating users to your product and advocating this feedback to the influencers who decide which products to purchase from the approved list. Sherpa Strategic is a registered entity for conducting business with the U.S. government, provides field support through strategic partners, and is able to facilitate GSA line card representation for product distribution.
Leadership Coaching: Among leadership and high-potential managers, there is a practical familiarity with the planning process and interaction techniques embedded in the Sherpa Strategic methodology that can be very beneficial to the growth and energy of your organization. For select individuals and small teams, we can tailor a customized program based on individual assessments and your organizational development objectives. Strengthening your team’s skill set in these areas helps foster clearer, authentic, shared understanding. It enables managers to help their staff problem-solve and provide constructive critiques. It helps build cohesion and mutual commitment to success as a team. It expands the talent pool available for your succession planning.
Strategic Sourcing: A matchmaking benefit that comes with your Sherpa engagement… it’s not uncommon that realizing an innovation involves skills and competencies that are beyond what your organization might be currently capable of, or willing to fully invest in until the business case is proved out. Our report-out deliverables help ensure a clear and well-structured basis for screening vendors and soliciting bids for design, engineering, production and logistics. We’re also able to facilitate introductions where we have established relationships and an objective basis to believe there is a good fit with your needs.