UpStream Alignment <> DownStream Execution (TM) Methodology
Decision Making Flowchart: This flowchart illustrates typical decision making processes in technology companies and cascading UpStream to DownStream flow of strategies (including new product development). Only core functions focused on defining, developing, marketing and selling products and services to target customers in global markets are shown. There are also some other functions in technology companies that are considered context functions: Finance, Accounting, HR, IT, Technical Support, Manufacturing and Facilities.
Company as a System Design: The concept of proper alignment and effective execution is captured in a graphical model. The model illustrates the UpStream and DownStream flows involved in the core functions as well as inter-dependancies and cross-links. In its very essense, any successful technology company is a high performance "system" designed to define, develop, market and sell its products better and faster than the competition. To use an engineering metaphor, the best companies are "designed" and optimized better than their competitors in terms of proper alignment and better execution.
Proper UpStream Alignment: Global technology companies align themselves with their markets by gaining in-depth understanding of emerging market trends, customer needs, competitors strategies, business models and key technologies. Since technology markets are so dynamic, the proper alignment can be only assured by closely monitoring their environments on an ongoing basis, by understanding upcoming changes, and by making timely and appropriate adjustments in strategies, programs, products, resource allocation, positioning / competitive messages, business models and processes and/or organizational structures, if necessary.
Effective DownStream Execution: For high-tech companies, rapid time-to-market with new products is one of the most critical requirement to succeed in global markets. These new products must also be the right products, since there is no margin for errors in fast paced markets. The right products need to be defined, developed, structured, priced, positioned and promoted effectively. In addition, the right products must be accompanied by carefully crafted competitive positioning, go-to-market strategies and effective sales channels. To execute effectively, a company also needs to ensure that its personnel are competent, motivated, focused and well-trained.
Practical Application of the Methodology: We use our UpStream Alignment <> DownStream Execution (TM) methodology as a framework for an initial assessment of your company's alignment and execution. The objective of applying the methodology is to quickly identify misaligned or underperforming elements (deficiencies) in your company. We have a solid understanding of where and how the deficiencies, such as misalignments, imbalances, fragmentation, duplication, inefficiencies, blind spots and weak links, typically manifest themselves in technology companies similar to yours.
Our methodology has been developed by combining the best practices from leading companies, the analysis of typical problems, modern strategic concepts, practical executive experience and valuable lessons-learned from our own consulting assignments.
Misalignment and Execution Problems in Technology Companies: Technology companies operating in global markets face unique challenges and are forced to posses a unique set of specific attributes. But even the best companies could become temporarily misaligned or experience execution problems due to dynamic market changes, intense competition, aging product line, shift in customer preferences and/or emerging new technologies.
Employee Talent Advantage: Of course, successful technology companies don't magically "design" themselves in some sort of impersonal fashion. The rely on talented, innovative and creative people who optimize and improve "the design" on ongoing basis. Successful technology companies also know how balance skilfull product development teams with sophisticated product management, strategic marketing, and go-to-market teams. Additionally, they ensure that their employees are competent, motivated, dedicated and well trained.
Key Concepts in our Methodology:
Irreversable Flow of Decisions: UpStream to DownStream: Incorrect business, technology, product and marketing decisions made UpStream can't be corrected or reversed DownStream. Therefore, any critical UpStream decisions must be based on current and in-depth understanding of market trends, customer needs, competitors' strategies and emerging technologies.
System Design Analogy: As mentioned successful technology companies are, in essense, well-designed, precisely-tuned and integrated "systems." Their core functions are structured and managed as scalable and dynamic business processes. They define, develop, market and sell the right products faster and better than the competitors. Those business processes need to be reviewed, prioritized and optimized on an ongoing basis to keep up with very dynamic nature of global market. Successful companies know that the overall system will only perform as well as its weakest link or the slowest sub-system!
Typical Deficiencies: Typical deficiencies are somewhat unavoidable, predictable and fixable. They are product shortcomings, weak & conflicting positioning messages, program misalignment and ineffective execution. There are some specific factors involved in predicting where and how the deficiencies will manifest themselves in a global technology company. The most important factors are: company size and age, growth rate, organizational design, business models, market understanding, competitive position, technology maturity, corporate scalability and senior management's experience.
Cross-Links and Inter-Dependancies: Product management, product development, strategic marketing and go-to-market strategies as well as overall business, market and technology strategies are all closely inter-related and cross-linked, thus creating interdependancies. Any significant change to one part of the system, could result in "ripple effects" throughtout the entire company ('the system").
Therefore, the challenge is two-fold: (1) to improve performance of the entire integrated system, even when its specific system elements are evaluated, prioritized and optimized separately, and (2) to ensure that any local changes to the sub-systems won't negatively affect other parts of the entire system.
Core Functions: Core functions in technology companies must be not only well-understood, but also treated and managed as integrated, scalable and dynamic business processes. The core functions are business, market and technology planning, strategic marketing, new product development, product management, go-to-market and sales.
Customer and Market Focus: The leading technology companies apply the Outside-In Paradigm to align themselves with customers and markets as oppose to the Inside-Out Paradigm, frequently used by less successful companies. They evaluate, improve and optimize their strategies, structures, programs, processes and products by attempting to "see" themselves from the perspective of their customers, partners and competitors. They also assure that any customer "touch point" provides superior experience and consistent messaging.