Horváth Innovation Insights

Modular-agile strategy work

“Only those who know their goal will find the way” - this was already realized by the Chinese philoso-pher Laozi in the 4th century BC. With the effort to define exactly this goal as an orientation for em-ployees and customers, companies globally undergo the strategy process. However, since Laozi and the famous strategist of recent history, Michael Porter, the world has been changing rapidly. For this reason, strategy work must be able to compete with the fast pace of the market, and must be cus-tomized and agile. Under this premise, modular-agile strategy work has emerged.

Strategy with radiance

Instead of being associated with new beginnings, innovation and the future, the strategy process in companies often evokes memories of endless workshops and a jumble of KPIs and targets that are difficult to break down to team level. This calls for focused, goal-oriented strategy work that radiates the fundamentals of its purpose: setting the course for a successful future at an early stage.

Based on our extensive experience with traditional strategy methods, we have devoted ourselves to the question of how we can make the classic strategy process leaner, more agile and more customized. At the same time, the goal was to continue providing a reliable basis for decision-making. The result is the modular-agile strategy work.

Modular-agile strategy work

At first glance, modular-agile strategy work does not look like it will deliver what it promises – as it comprises more than 15 modules and you could spend weeks or months on each of these topics. However, the charm of the approach lies precisely in this. On the one hand, each module can be designed individually, and content focused, and on the other hand, modules can be skipped. For example, many companies have already established a structured environment scanning (such as FORESEEN) or defined corporate values which minimize the effort for the modules "External Checks" or "Values". These modules are eliminated from the process, therefore saving valuable time. Experience shows that there are not even two projects of modular-agile strategy work that have been based on the same modules.

The four unique selling points

It is not only the modularity and speed of the method that make it unique; four specific elements in particular stand out:

  1. Hypothesis-based and customer-centric strategy work
    The quintessence of the analysis phase is a few focused hypotheses that allow a concentrated discussion. The hypotheses are formed based on an analysis of internal and external sources, management interviews, best practices from other industries and input from the Horváth & Partners research team. They are structured based on the 7K model and thus cover every aspect of the business model. These hypotheses form a sound basis for further strategic analyses.
  2. Becoming better and becoming different 
    The new strategy must push these two essential pillars of the business model. "Becoming better" refers particularly to the performance of the business model elements. Does the company need to become more adaptable, customer-focused, faster or more flexible? In contrast, "Becoming different" aims at the uniqueness of the business model. Does the company have to radically rethink its product portfolio, sales channels, customer segments, cooperation or the depth of value creation? These questions are answered in two dedicated workshops at the beginning of the design phase.
  3. Validation of strategic directions and active testing
    Early evaluation of the measures designed in the pre-launch phase with the stakeholders concerned ensures the effectiveness and relevance of the planned activities. Validation is directed particularly to customers (e.g., to gather opinions about the introduction of a new app or redesign of branches), employees (e.g., in the introduction of automation tools or the focusing on the project portfolio), service partners (e.g., for the outsourcing of processes), or ecosystem partners (e.g., for the implementation of a common platform). The element of testing thus paves the way for strategy implementation.
  4. Top-down and bottom-up transformation with a focus on people
    In modular-agile strategy work, all employees at different hierarchical levels are involved. This ensures overall commitment and identification with the strategy development. A balance between bottom-up and top-down approach is achieved by communicating to all employee groups and involving representatives in the process. However, executives are also directly integrated, and the commitment of the top management is gained from the very beginning. By implementing a change and communication plan, stakeholders are involved at the right time.

Even in times of COVID-19, these unique selling propositions can unfold their effect. Modern, virtual collaboration methods have replaced the classic Post-it and the large meeting room and enabled a close collaboration with customers. Thus, digital modular-agile strategy work can once again radiate what characterizes a strategy: future orientation.

Horváth & Partners Innovation Services

We have already impressed many of our clients with our modular-agile strategy work.

"Modular-agile strategy work was the ideal solution for us to develop our new strategy in a timely and focused manner. The modularity and testing on the customer have particularly convinced us."

CEO of a Swiss Cantonal Bank

"Horváth & Partners was always reliable and delivered results in excellent quality. The project with the external support was professionally and personally first-class and the cooperation was pleasant and constructive."

Alexander Roth, CEO DARAG Germany, Group Chief Strategy Officer

If you would like to find out precisely which activities are concealed behind the respective modules and which modules are particularly suitable for your company, please contact us!

Banking & Insurance: Schindera, F. /  Müller, M. / Goretzki, F. 
Strategy: Greiner, O.