Aligning Business Focus

Is it possible for a group of diverse businesses to develop a common vision of their future together? Is there any benefit in developing such a vision?
The benefits of a common vision are cohesion, complementarities of focus, and mutual or shared support. These are obviously important to an integrated business, but are they also important to a group of disparate businesses? We believe the answer is yes, because if there is no advantage from cohesion and shared support, what is the competitive or commercial value of creating such a group in the first place?
One practical example is branding. Branding provides a 'fast track' for appropriating the reputation of successful transactions in other group companies to your own business. With the increased choices now available to potential customers, branding is becoming increasingly important. But without some degree of cohesion and collective commitment a problem arises, because effort invested in helping other group companies in this way (referrals, leads, brand advertising, consistency) provides no guarantee of return.
Siemens Shared Services faced exactly this issue. A diverse group of independent businesses which had little recognition of the benefits of working closer together, and strong doubts that a common vision was even feasible, let alone beneficial. But through a collaborative process (based on a derivation of QFD) they have found a lot of common ground and more mutual benefits than they anticipated. Through this, they have developed a coherent vision and values, and a number of common processes, not least of which is 'Business Development' which encompasses their approach to branding.
The picture above shows the General Managers of the different service businesses evaluating each other's proposals against the common vision, and providing feedback.
As a result of this work Shared Services have achieved an annual growth of over 20% and maintained its profitability while delivering an additional £6.8 M in cost savings to its customers.
During the same period, customer satisfaction has risen from 69% to 79%, and employee satisfaction from 67% to 74%, while the level of queries has fallen to less than a third of its previous value.
To read the case study of this work, click here

To understand more about QFD, click here


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