At the end of December 2014 we published a post recapping our year at Firmsconsulting and providing a brief overview of our plans for 2015. We want to provide an update on our plans for 2015 so you know what to expect and how we are keeping to that schedule.

More importantly, if you want us to change the schedule or our priorities, you can comment and let us know. We are going to focus this update on just one area where we need some guidance from readers.

Implementation Executive Program

Executive programs refer to the full studies we undertake and publish on our website: all the power points, videos, tool kits etc. like the merger study and LAB market entry study.

We are planning to work on 4 studies this year.

  1. The market entry study is done and will be released shortly.
  2. The power sector corporate strategy transformation study has started and will be released shortly.
  3. In all likelihood, the power sector study will lead to a major implementation phase so that will be the next study.
  4. Finally, we are debating whether or not to do the BTO strategy study, operations or another study as the 4th study of the year.

Do you want an implementation study and toolkit?

We need to know which should be the next two studies. If you look at our header and footer, under executive programs, we have listed all the studies we have negotiated with clients. The start dates for some of those studies have not been set and we can move them based on reader popularity.

Every time someone subscribes for updates on a study, we view that as a vote for the study.

We try to do the studies with the most votes first.

We need you to vote.

As it stands, this is the top 4 studies based on your votes:

  1. Market entry strategy study
  2. Power Sector strategy study
  3. Operations study
  4. CPG pricing, marketing and strategy study.

Based on this voting, the operations study is the next study we will release. That outcome was a little surprising. We suspect it is the most popular because most readers have not taken the time to vote.

So, by default operations moved to the top of the list. We also think many readers are confusing operations with implementation. This post will provide some details on implementation studies so you can understand the differences better and decide if you really do prefer the operations study over the implementation study.

We feel implementation skills are more important than operations skills. Every executive in every organization needs implementations skills. This involves setting goals, change management, embedding new cultures, overhauling systems and processes. In essence, it means helping your company/client generate the $xM benefits that was promised.

Every single executive client we have will understand their biggest obstacle is implementing recommendations. In a corporate environment, you get promoted for getting results. You do not get promoted for strategy analyses and recommendations which you fail to implement.

We are working on creating the most comprehensive implementation toolkit in the world, which we will roll out for the power sector implementation study.

We are working with Bain and McKinsey Implementation Group coaching clients to ensure the toolkit exceeds the quality of the material available in those firms. Therefore, we remain excited about this study and toolkit.

The implementation study will contain over 350 videos and power point guides. The accompanying toolkit will contain well over 100 videos and power point guides. That is >450 videos in total. That is a deeply comprehensive program. To give you a sense of some of the differences between implementation and operations, we have attached some screenshots from the videos.

Once you review these implementation slides and believe it will be useful, please vote by subscribing to this study and comment below. We use the comments to help us think of missing elements in the studies and tool kits.

In this exhibit we explain the fundamental difference between operations and implementation. They are frequently confused but are not the same in any way.

McKinsey Implementation Group 1

This exhibit explains the overall, high-level implementation approach. There is a lot of details that sit behind each block. In fact, the block on “Design Implementation” contains well over 100 power point slides since there are so many different implementation techniques and tools to overcome resistance from employees.

McKinsey Implementation Group 2

This exhibit pretty much sums up the main chart the client is interested in. At the start of an implementation, the client tracks adherence to the activities. The client does this since it is too early to track the banked benefits. However, as the study progresses the implementation will focus more on the banked benefits versus the activities initially outlined for the implementation.

This is because things always change throughout the implementation and sticking to initial activities makes little sense when the situation on the ground is fluid. Sticking to the financial targets, however, is the primary goal of the client.

McKinsey Implementation Group 3

The exhibit below is a simplified version of a more detailed map. We list every single type of resistance a client could display over the course of the study, along with the toolkit to overcome that resistance. This is probably the most important part of the toolkit. There is a significant amount of material walking subscribers through use of the tools.

McKinsey Implementation Group 4

This final exhibit highlights just one of the five possible roll out options for implementation. The “Big Bang” approach works very well during crises where there is no choice but to execute the roll-out across the entire country at one time.

McKinsey Implementation Group 5

As you can see, this is a very comprehensive study and toolkit.

However, if we release the studies based on the votes alone, it would seem the implementation study is not as popular and will not be released anytime this year. So please vote to help us know which studies to release.

So, to recap: 4 studies are planned for 2015 but we need you to tell us which one’s should be released first by registering for the implementation study or any other study you prefer.

If the implementation study and toolkit is not what our readers find useful, we will likely decline the opportunity to run the power sector implementation study. This would be a pity because we believe implementation is a core skill to learn and is a priority of every major consulting firm today.

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23 responses to Implementation Study & Toolkit

  1. Thanks William,

    We will think about live-blogging the implementation phase, should we be awarded the work.

    Live-blogging tends to slow us down quite a bit and it also delays the roll-out of all the training material. We will think about the trade-offs and make a decision once we have certainty on whether or not the implementation will proceed.


  2. I’m in support of an implementation study. This is needed. It’s a capability that needs taught because, in my view, it is a deficiency in organizations post-strategy formulation. It would be great to have a live implementation study to follow and toolkit to reference.

  3. Hi Aylwin,
    We have some innovative ideas to try wrt teaching implementation.

  4. Thanks Michael. I trust that FC will look into the best way to convey the training material irrespective of complexity and size, after all both terms are relative. Look forward to the next study and toolkits.

  5. Thanks for the comments Attila.

    It is good to hear from you.


  6. Hi Michael,
    I’m glad to see that FC has already decided to give the Implementation study high priority.
    I definitely vote and looking forward to it.

  7. Thanks Aylwin.

    This is a good argument – going back to our values and moving from those first principles. Over the last few hours we have made the decision to proceed with this study. In fact, we would have proceeded even if the votes did not come through, and will still release the implementation study this year even if the votes change and the implementation study drops in popularity.

    We believe clients need to understand implementation. While the power sector study strategy, and implementation phase of that study, will continue, we will release the technology merger implementation first and the power sector implementation later.

    Thanks to everyone who voted and commented in the last 24 hours. It helped us think this through and you will notice we changed the order of the implementation studies based on AB’s comments below.

    One cannot argue with his clear logic.

    Aylwin, on your point about releasing a less complex implementation study first, I would say all the studies we are doing are fairly large and complicated. We will, however, find a way to present them in a clear and easy to understand format. We already have begun working on a rough layout for the implementation study.


  8. Hi Michael

    Do what is best in the client’s interest. This is the underlying value of FC. Posting this article shows the importance of implementation whether FC clients understands it or not.

    Out of the three terms, ‘strategy’, ‘operations’ and ‘implementation’, strategy to the common, is elevated above all three and many misuse this term as it helps makes things “important”. It is just the nature of the term. This is not to say strategy is not important. Rather, strategy (and operations) is and is one wing of an aeroplane. The other wing I would say is implementation. Without both wings, you can’t get to your destination.

    By going through the tech corp strategy, one point that stands out is if the client does not change, the project is not successful. In other words, when the client adopts the recommendation, if there is no implementation, the project is still not successful. Thus the importance of an implementation approach and toolkits to help realize the benefits to change the client situation.

    Coming from the lens of “approach and toolkits”, to help FC clients better understand the approach to corp strategy, the tech merger helped achieves that. It is not complex, and the primary purpose is to show that approach. When complexity increases, it is harder to see it. I assume the approach for implementation will take the same course. Having complexity may distract clients. Based on the article above, the toolkit itself is 450 videos, not yet to mention the approach. Good amount of material to digest. I suggest having one implementation study this year to show clients the importance of implementation and use a study that is not to complex.

    So, there isn’t much negotiation whether we do an implementation study or not, rather when. Better this year than next. After all, FC will many strategy studies lined up.

    Kind regards.

  9. Hi everyone,

    An update to this post is that the implementation study has now received the most votes on the site across all studies. So, that is a good sign!


  10. HI Michael,
    Yes it does.

  11. Hi Brian,

    You are already doing that when you vote. When you vote/subscribe for a study you are also voting within categories.

    This post is helping us understand the order between categories. Once we figure out which category will be published next, we thereafter look at the votes for all studies in that category.

    Right now, you can basically choose between the tech merger and power sector implementation studies for that category

    In the same way, when you vote for a strategy study, you are voting within a category.

    Does that make sense?


  12. Hi Michael,
    Would it be possible to have subscribers vote within a category rather than between categories? Strategy, Operations and Implementation are equally important and I would think that you may want to have at least one study published/done in each area in a given time period. Whether we are in consulting, corporate, or in the public sector, knowledge of how studies are done in each of the three areas benefits us all. Given that your firm specializes in training, it would stand to reason that we are given the best training in all three areas. Strategy provides direction and vision, operations is how the daily work gets done and without the ability to implement change, organizations can’t adapt to new circumstances.

  13. Jen,

    I wanted to add a separate but important point to your comment.

    Our primary clients are not the corporate clients for whom we conduct the studies. If they where, we would never publish the studies since publishing the studies is of small, but not insignificant, value to corporate clients. Our primary clients are the subscribers on this website. In other words Firmsconsulting is a B2C consulting-type firm versus the traditional B2B consulting firms. That makes us unique worldwide – no other firm has this business model. This is a critical distinction. We make decisions that ultimately help our B2C clients. Whenever we are forced to make a decision which can either help a B2B client or B2C client, but not both, we always choose B2C.

    That is one reason you will never see us do defense studies. While they are very interesting, we would never be able to publish them. In this situation, B2B clients benefit but B2C clients lose out since they can never see the studies.

    If we produce something that our primary clients do not want or like, ultimately we are doing them a disservice. They move away since we are not serving their needs. This is an important distinction to make. We have to do what is right for our core clients.

    On the other hand, our core clients may not fully understand the value of a new service until they see it. They may assume implementation is not useful or interesting because they are thinking about implementation as it is currently taught or discussed. They may very well love it once we show them what we have in mind. In other words, clients do not always know what they want or need. It comes does to the way we teach and re-interpret implementation to make it more practical and useful.

    The two concepts above is something we always think about: who is our client and do they understand what they need.

    And if they do not understand what they need, can we get them to understand it.


  14. Hi Jen,

    That is an interesting and valid point. Consulting firms break down studies into three phases: planning (strategy and operations) and implementation. It is really an arbitrary distinction since the client really wants the implementation and sees the planning as the means to an end.


  15. Michael, I very much like your crowdsourcing approach to problem solving.

    I have voted for my preferred study. In the event that you don’t get the votes required, you shouldn’t view it as a lack of interest in the Power Implementation study. Instead, consider that voters expected implementation to be part of the package. Your goal is to ensure that the lights never go out in Africa. You don’t keep the lights on via a pretty PowerPoint deck collecting dust on some executive’s shelf.

    Like when you go to Mickey D’s and pay for the value meal. You expect that it comes with a large drink, and don’t really expect someone to ask you whether or not you want a drink.

  16. Get people to vote Aylwin. That is key.

    We appreciate the support though.

  17. Would be a shame not to see implementation study being published.

  18. Hi AB,

    That is a very good question and a great point. That study is also based on a real client, but we are delaying it for 1 reason: It is not as complex as the power sector study. We feel more complex studies are more realistic.

    Although is subjective. The technology merger study would look incredibly complex to most subscribers.

    That said, if other feel strongly about this, we could shift the order and focus on the technology implementation study.

    We will see what the other commenters say.

    So, basically there are two decisions:
    1 – Do we roll out the implementation material?
    2 – If yes, should it be the technology or power sector study?

    The technology study makes more sense since everyone has already seen the material from phase one. The power sector study may be better since it is much more complex.

    AB, I am definitely going to think about this more. Thanks for this valuable comment.

    We will post our thoughts very soon on the decision.


  19. Hi Michael,
    You talk about the implementation of the power study. What about the implementation of the tech merger study in Canada? Wouldn’t that be the natural next step since subscribers are already acquainted with what needs to be implemented?

  20. We could not agree more Yuri.

    Implementation matters, especially in the corporate world.


  21. Hi after going through most of the material provided and for my own experience the benefit of a study will be realized only if successfully implemented as stated above therefore I am keen the choose the implementation study and the respective toolkit.

  22. Hi Brian,

    Thanks for the feedback. We agree with your sentiments. We have close to 10 strategy studies scheduled for the next 2 odd years so we will cover just about every area of strategy: pricing, market entry, business unit, corporate, transformation etc.

    We agree with the need for balance. Let’s see if everyone else will agree.

    Operations is a very big areas as well so we will likely have a few studies in that area if we can find the right type of clients.


  23. Actually, it would be nice to see what both the implementation and the operations studies look like and to have those as the last two rather than the CPG strategy study. Given that you have two strategy studies already on the docket, it would give the training portfolio some balance. Plus, how a company operates can be the source of competitive advantage to a company (Southwest, Toyota) so it would be useful to see how tier 1 firms tackle an operations issue.

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