Case Studies

Helped a Research Firm Protect and Enhance Its Position as a Market Leader in Tracking Consumer Attitudes and Behaviors Toward Food, Nutrition, and Health

Situation/Opportunity:  Responded to a leading research firm in the food and beverage industry, whose subcontractors and affiliates were threatening to emerge as competitors.

Actions: Worked on a cost-plus-gain-sharing basis to help the client determine (1) how to dissuade subcontractors and affiliates from becoming competitors and (2) whether and how to adapt its Food & Beverage sector research and trend reports to better serve current and potential customers. Evaluated the firm’s culture, research methods, and trend reports in comparison to those of subcontractors, affiliates, and competitors. Identified strengths and weaknesses in relation to market opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis) and made strategic recommendations. Uncovered health and wellness (H&W) research needs in new sectors. Prioritized and described key value propositions for new verticals and new categories of companies. Recommended accelerating entry in the Food Service, BioPharma/Med-tech, and Health & Wellness sectors. Recommended postponing entry in the Retail sector. Created brochures, marketing communications, and sales tools—with emphasis on digital content and messaging—to support new verticals and new customer categories. Facilitated key strategic planning meetings. Built the business case and guidance documents for launch of a new digitally engaged consulting unit that could outperform subcontractors and affiliates and dissuade them from becoming competitors.

Results: Created an intellectual property (IP) foundation for corporate development and supported the profitable, digitally enabled scale-up of the firm’s consulting service line. Leveraged digital channels to validate the market opportunity for research and trend reports serving new verticals and turned over pre-qualified leads in those verticals.

Facilitated C-Suite and D-Suite Focus Groups to Validate a Corporate Repositioning Strategy and Jumpstart Revenues and Earnings for a Leading Health Industry Distributor

Situation/Opportunity:  Responded to a tier-one health industry distributor facing rapidly eroding margins in its core business, new supply chain competition from outside the healthcare industry, and preemptive moves by direct competitors that had secured leadership positions in the most promising new service lines.

Actions: Conducted a SWOT analysis to identify corporate strengths and weaknesses in the context of environmental opportunities and threats, leveraging Web-centrist secondary research and digitally enabled in-depth interviews. Developed a dozen viable re-positioning strategies. Established strategy evaluation criteria and identified information needed to validate the more promising re-positioning strategies. Identified focus groups as the ideal vetting tool. Established focus group objectives, methods, and outcomes. Developed a plan of action. Defined the optimal format, level of participation, duration, number of sessions, participant characteristics, collection targets (e.g., words, tone, silent periods, body language), collection methods, moderator requirements, reporting formats (e.g., transcripts, analysis, recommendations) and risks. Created recruiting scripts and materials, used digitally enabled methods to target and recruit participants, co-moderated sessions, wrote and presented reports to management, and led executive-level meetings to address findings and implications.

Result: Identified immediate and long-term revenue-generating opportunities among focus group participants and created a context for business development without compromising the research project and research relationships. Validated the need for low-cost refinements to the client’s preferred re-positioning strategy (in one case, gaining customer favor by adding just two new words to a tagline). Used digitally enabled follow-up methods to drive substantial revenue growth and brand equity improvements in relation to participating organizations within 6 to 12 weeks of each focus group meeting. Identified urgent and pressing business needs among new categories of customers, leading to executive level authorization of a Program/Project Management Office (PMO) initiative to drive innovation capabilities and build an innovation engine within the client’s company.

Helped an Executive Recruiting Firm Lead the Market by Anticipating and Promoting New Categories of Jobs

Situation/Opportunity: Responded to a healthcare recruiting firm seeking superior placement opportunities and radical performance improvements.

Actions: Designed a digitally enabled system to identify fast-growth markets and mission-critical job roles at the points where the healthcare sector collided with disruptive forces (e.g., smartphones, mobile apps, health reform legislation). Trained the firm’s leadership team and top recruiters in this methodology so they could (1) characterize essential growth-driving competencies at those points-of-convergence, (2) prompt senior executives in growth companies to create new positions and request job candidates, and (3) locate superior candidates with relevant experiences and skills and repackage their attributes to ensure placement in the newly conceived and created positions. Engaged an information systems expert to guide the firm in improving its customer relationship management (CRM) and document management systems. Developed assets (digital collateral) for a semi-automated marketing campaign to test awareness-building, conversions, and retention strategies; identify growth hacks; and facilitate rapid scaleup.

Results: Supported unprecedented growth of the recruiting firm and enhanced the firm’s brand by creating competitive distinctions around the capacity to find mission-critical candidates in embryonic and fast-growing disciplines.

Developed a Community Risk Calculator to Quantify the Number of Lives at Risk in the Event of Breaches in the Pharmaceutical Supply Chain

Situation/Opportunity:  Were asked by a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) provider in the community informatics market to help anticipate and mitigate national, state, and community exposure around breaches in the pharmaceutical supply chain.

Action: Identified gap in emergency preparedness at the federal, state, and local levels vis-a-vis the pharmaceutical supply chain. Searched for tools that could be used to quantify the human risk around potential breaches in drug supplies. Determined that no one had developed a tool for this purpose. Identified the top drugs in the nation by total prescriptions dispensed. Identified life-saving and life-sustaining drugs on this list. Identified prescription refills by geography and demographics. Captured census data. Developed an MS Excel model capable of estimating episodes of breached access and determining lives at stake across the nation, by state, by metropolitan statistical area, and by micropolitan statistical area. Developed a “good/better/best” plan of action for continuous improvement of the MS Excel and online tool, using data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and other sources. Trained a community informatics client in the use of the tool to serve FEMA, the American Red Cross, 2-1-1 service providers, and more than 2,400 communities across the U.S. in relation to their referral, case management, and community care system.

Result: Delivered an MS Excel model that could be uploaded onto the client’s website to enable public, private and not-for-profit entities to calculate and plan for the human impact of potential breaches in the pharmaceutical supply chain in the event of man made and natural disasters.

Developed a Grant Acquisition Strategy for a Health Plan Committed to Leading a Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO) and Facilitating Health Information Exchange (HIE)

Situation/Opportunity: Were asked by one of the nation’s most technology-savvy Blue Cross Blue Shield Plans to help design a grant acquisition strategy and support the conceptualization of a Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO) and Health Information Exchange (HIE) program.

Action: Identified an opportunity for the health plan to better secure its position of market leadership and influence by emerging as the “hub” in a profitable RHIO. Researched the RHIO market. Characterized differences between profitable and unprofitable RHIO models. Outlined key steps in the design, development and management of self-sustaining RHIOs. Developed a plan of action (POA) for securing a grant to help fund development of a sustainable RHIO and HIE capabilities.

Result: Enabled the BCBS Plan to secure a grant and position a RHIO for basic health information exchange (HIE).

Supported a Corporate Turnaround for a Fortune 30 Client by Enhancing Its Innovation Engine and Assisting Product-Launch and New-Market-Entry Teams with Go-to-Market Strategies

Situation/Opportunity: Were approached by a Fortune 30 client that had been slow to adapt to changes in the healthcare value chain and was losing key accounts and being subjected to aggressive price competition from new market entrants.

Actions: Conceptualized, designed, and participated in a Program/Project Management Office (PMO) initiative to help the client develop and systematize both outside-in and inside-out innovation capabilities. Evaluated current and emerging markets to assess strategic implications, including corporate fit and potential contributions to the bottom line. Identified a high priority market and three other market opportunities that aligned with the client’s competencies and offered returns-on-investment (ROIs) far superior to the ROI from the client’s historic and primary area of focus. Presented three major reports to senior management: (1) a macro view of the marketplace, (2) a micro view of selected new product development and new market entry opportunities, and (3) an executive briefing that included revenue, cost, and bottom line forecasts based on various ramp-up and partnering scenarios.

Result: Helped the client profitably navigate from a high-volume low-margin business toward a medium-volume high-margin business, resulting in (1) a 24% increase in revenues in 36 months and (2) sustained revenues and earnings through a radical economic downturn.

Supported a Leading Biotech Company’s Go/No-Go Decision on Phase III Clinical Testing of a Licensed Biological Product

Situation/Opportunity: Were approached by a leading biotechnology company facing a Go/No-Go decision about Phase III testing of an early-stage product it had licensed from a biotech startup.

Actions: Characterized the probabilities of success and calculated likely returns-on-investment (ROIs) for the licensed technology’s full range of potential clinical indications and off-label uses. Recommended a “No Go” decision, but also prioritized clinical indications and off-label uses based on potential ROIs. Described best case, most probable case and worst case clinical trial results and off-label use patterns. Characterized probable launch environments. Addressed key market drivers, trends and disruptive forces associated with potential on-label and off-label uses. Anticipated technology performance versus current and emerging competitive offerings, focusing on comparative safety and efficacy profiles, relative cost-effectiveness, third-party payment policies, probable status on formularies and with pharmacy and therapeutics (P&T) committees, levels of acceptance among key opinion leaders (KOLs), probable buy-in among specialists and other factors.

Result: Supported a “No Go” decision on further clinical testing of the licensed product, based on the probability of an inferior cost-effectiveness and safety profile versus an entrenched competitive offering, but identified a viable use that would support profitable resale of the product license to a third party.

Protected and Enhanced the Growth of a Leading Global Food Services Company with > $20 Billion in Revenue

Situation/Opportunity: Were hired 5 times in 18 months and more than a dozen times over 6 years to (1) identify causes of unexpected changes in corporate performance; (2) help characterize breakthrough market, corporate, and product development opportunities; and (3) build the business case for new strategies and ventures.

Actions: Focused not only on the client’s target markets but also on adjacent and converging markets. Characterized more than two dozen rapidly evolving adjacent markets and more than a half dozen convergence markets. Identified client implications and imperatives associated with new market drivers, trends, and disruptive forces. Presented to leadership teams what would happen if the client took various actions (or took no action), and described “best case” options for market, corporate, and product development. Helped define, develop, test, launch, and grow demand for new market-leading products, services, and solutions.

Results: Supported a significant and revenue-enhancing change in strategy, leveraging radical shifts in the sociodemographic, economic, political, technological, and commercial landscape. Identified and supported mission-critical changes in corporate culture and operations, leading to more rapid product innovation, new market entry, an unprecedented deal with a major health system, and larger footprints in existing accounts.

Saved an At-Risk Conference Organizer Focused on the Healthcare Supply Chain and Successfully Positioned the Company for Acquisition

Situation/Opportunity: Were brought in to support an exit strategy by troubleshooting and turning around a supply chain education business faced with aggressive new competitors and an increasingly cost-constrained customer base.

Actions: Interviewed team members to identify drivers of, and barriers to, sales growth and organizational development (OD). Made professional development and outplacement recommendations. Focused on information silos and lapses in accountability as key causes of client service failures and team member under performance. Led the team in validating and adopting a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution to facilitate information-sharing and performance tracking. Identified key performance metrics and implemented management reporting systems. Launched a professional services unit. Wrote winning proposals and helped close contracts into the seven figures.

Results: Helped turn around sales performance in the client’s educational unit by the start of Q3. Created a highly profitable consulting unit in less than 12 months. Improved corporate earnings by more than 33% over what had been an extremely aggressive and unrealistic forecast. Successfully positioned the firm for acquisition.

Helped a Fortune 50 Healthcare Company Increase Revenues from $57 Billion to More Than $71 Billion in Less Than Three Years

Situation/Opportunity: Were hired to verify reasons for margin erosion in a key segment of the healthcare vertical and validate fast-growing adjacent markets that could enhance corporate earnings.

Actions: Interviewed key executives, middle managers, key opinion leaders (KOLs), subject matter experts (SMEs), customers, and non-customers to identify the client’s strengths and weaknesses in relation to market opportunities and threats (SWOT analysis). Characterized more than a dozen adjacent markets and several non-adjacent markets in relation to the client’s current and potential competencies. Identified five essential actions that could put the client ahead of other companies in its markets. Validated recommendations among customers and non-customers in regional chief officer retreats and national focus groups. Helped the client build an innovation engine through a major Program/Project Management Office (PMO) initiative. Helped lead the Marketing Department in developing and implementing a winning marketing plan.

Results: Gained support for four of the recommended five margin-enhancing initiatives. In less than 18 months, helped increase operating revenue by more than 20% and $11 billion; helped grow earnings by more than 75% and $200 million; and helped increase share price more than 37% and $14.75 per share.

Assured the Survival of a Struggling Laboratory Software Application Developer

Situation/Opportunity: Were hired under the auspices of Lockheed Martin’s Technology Ventures Corporation to help a startup company develop a viable business model and business plan related to laboratory software products and services.

Actions: Met with the startup’s founders and with their TVC counselor to help articulate the startup’s mission, objectives, and strategy. In working sessions, drew out sufficient “tribal knowledge” of the marketplace and unmet customer needs to develop a succinct business model, plan, and presentation sufficient for the first 18 months of corporate and account development activity.

Results: Helped the startup team focus on the right objectives and actions, minimize their burn rate, and communicate in a manner that resulted in two beta test partners and paying clients.

Kept a Privately Held Chiropractic Informatics Company Focused on a Profitable Segment of the Science, Technology, and Medicine (STM) Publishing Market

Situation/Opportunity: Were hired to help a chiropractic informatics company make critical “Go/No Go” decisions about investing for growth within or outside the organization’s core business and customer base.

Actions: Met with the senior leadership team to conduct a mini-SWOT analysis and address organizational development challenges. Helped articulate and refine the company’s mission, objectives, and strategies. Explored the relationship and degree of alignment between the company’s core business and proposed new ventures. Offered a candid assessment of the risks and prospects associated with competing investment strategies and corporate development strategies.

Results: Helped the leadership team avoid an unwarranted investment outside its core competencies and supported the company’s profitable expansion into promising adjacent and online markets.

Helped a University-Affiliated Medical Center Secure a Large Grant to Launch a World-Class Integrative Healthcare Clinic

Situation/Opportunity: Were hired to help write a grant application and create a business case for an integrative medicine program.

Actions: Co-developed a mission statement, set of objectives, and strategy for the proposed program. Reviewed and refined a proposed program budget to support a more favorable ROI. Provided grant writing guidance and editing services.

Results: Helped the medical center secure grant monies so it could successfully launch and profitably operate its market-leading integrative medicine program.

Supported the Survival of a Health-Related Data Standards and Legal Informatics Company

Situation/Opportunity: Were asked to serve as a consultant and interim executive to help stabilize an overextended startup with an exceptional health-related data standard, funded by an angel investor and his extended network, facing mounting investor concerns, and threatened by several of the most powerful special interest groups in healthcare.

Actions: Quantified the company’s burn rate and eliminated all but core activities to assure its survival. Identified essential skills and steps for a turnaround. Evaluated team competencies, made professional development and outplacement decisions, and established effective management control systems, driven by clearly defined performance objectives and methods. Secured team member loyalty and raised productivity through absolute managerial and financial transparency when a loss of funding seemed imminent and business failure seemed possible. Testified to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and selected members of the U.S. Congress to protect the venture from special interest attack. Secured strategic allies on Capitol Hill and elsewhere in Washington DC. Helped build the case to secure an unprecedented “exception” to HIPAA standards to legally test the functionality of the proposed data standard in HIPAA compliant transactions. Demonstrated the data standard could save the U.S. healthcare system upwards of $51 billion annually and submitted a final report to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Office of the HHS Secretary

Results: Corporatized the company and built the business case to warrant millions in new funding. Guided the team in building order fulfillment and customer service capabilities. Collectively secured more than 1,000 new customers in a single marketing campaign. Supported more than a 20% increase in share price.

Supported a Biotech Startup in Making Go/No-Go Decisions About Clinical Trials and Technology Licensing Deals

Situation/Opportunity: Were hired several times over two years to support Go/No-Go decisions on product, clinical, and market development for biotech products across multiple indications.

Actions: Performed extensive primary and secondary research to characterize potential markets for the products. Evaluated the qualitative and NPV/ROI rationale for “Go” versus a “No-Go” decisions. Reviewed the incidence and prevalence of more than a dozen potential clinical indications. Identified gaps in diagnostic and treatment protocols that could create market openings for targeted technologies. Assessed current and emerging competitive environments and compared the cost-effectiveness of competing interventions. Identified relevant opportunities and threats in drug coverage and reimbursement. Evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of directly and indirectly competing entities, including their patterns of offense/defense and their key vulnerabilities. Identified safety, efficacy, and cost-effectiveness hurdles. Determined whether competitive and third-party payment environments would justify product development and commercialization.

Results: Saved the company millions of dollars in clinical trial expenses and years of unpromising clinical testing by supporting a “No-Go” decision on the majority of targeted drug uses and by recommending a means by which the company could recover a large portion of its drug development costs and accelerate its speed to revenues through innovative partnerships and regulatory strategies.