Ryan Zielonka

Client Story

In 2017, Ryan Zielonka helped a multi-billion-dollar newspace venture evaluate its current business plan and develop a new vision, mission, and strategy for guiding:

1. Innovation in the development of products and services to support both the founder and the CEO’s evolving vision of the company

2. Achievement of sustained profitable growth and high-performance across the full range of the company’s customers and customer types

3. Identification of new areas for growth based on ongoing enhancement of customer segmentation practices

4. Definition and evaluation of strategic investment opportunities

The Challenge

While the client possessed substantive technology leadership and robust core assets, the company faced difficulty in establishing a compelling business strategy. The client turned to Zielonka to facilitate dialogue, introduce best practices, and secure corporate alignment on the core questions of business strategy:

• What is our guiding aspiration?

• Where will we compete?

• How will we compete?

• What systems and structures do we need to succeed?

• How do we continuously improve?

What the consulting team discovered, through a comprehensive industry and market assessment, was that the fundamentals of the business offered several avenues of growth and innovation. The challenge would be in developing a framework, tailored to the client's unique circumstances, for making executive decisions that would help the client achieve its goals without compromising on its fundamental principles.

The approach

Zielonka utilized a best-of-breed approach in addressing the client's strategic challenge. Given the technology-first, blank slate nature of the business issue, Zielonka employed an array of tools to better orient the organization toward its industry and generate a competitive go-to-market strategy.

Alignment on an end-to-end strategic vision based on its core asset and an understanding of the company's differentiated capabilities allowed Zielonka and the client to construct a unifying strategy for harnessing the full potential of the organization. Zielonka's advisory work, which was conducted over a period of sixteen working weeks, featured the following activities:

 

Phase 1

Assessment and Alignment

  • Assessment of previous iterations of the business case against validated best practices

  • Competitive evaluation of industry, market, and sector to support synthesis and implementation of leading business strategic models into net new business case

  • Optimization of growth strategies, mitigating gaps inhibiting high-performance and prioritization of methods for improving both capabilities and management systems


Phase 2

Design and Development

  • Definition, development, and implementation pathway for strategic vision, mission, and business case

  • Analysis of risks and current-to-future state gaps requiring mitigation for sustained high-performance across customer segments

  • Proof-of-concept framework and decision model for strategic investment evaluation, business model design, and digital transformation


Phase 3

Implementation and Sustainment

  • Implementation, iteration, and revision of advisory and in-house strategy materials needed for dissemination internally and externally, and at all levels of leadership

  • Handover of detailed six-month project plan and program roadmap for implementation of business strategy recommendations

  • Orchestration and facilitation of boardroom briefings with CEO and executive leadership team on findings, recommendations, and next steps

Insights and recommendations

Zielonka made six specific recommendations to be considered by the client in its effort to optimally define its strategic position and competitive capability set in the emerging newspace industry:

 

1. Identify, build, or acquire complementary capabilities for securing alternative streams of revenue as a competitive adjacency while the client’s core products and services remain nascent

2. Mitigate risk against upstart competitors by considering strategic partnerships, alignments, or co-ventures in product and service development

3. Purchase or merge with an existing firm that could offer untapped benefit at different layers of the industry value chain unaddressed by the client's present capabilities

4. Deploy a “Build-Test-Learn” agile methodology toward testing products and services in-market by soliciting input from potential customers in a design thinking approach to market roll-out

5. Seek differentiation through customer experience, leveraging cross-industry best practices, and conduct bottom-up user experience modeling to grow competencies

6. Evaluate strategic decisions on the basis of “What Must Be True?” and develop habits of managerial practice for weighing choices through a filter of advocacy and inquiry

Inspiring Results

Zielonka and the client's teams came together to redesign the fundamentals of the organization, including the vision, mission, goals, and strategy to support the organization's existing technology leadership in product design. Zielonka’s approach helped the client identify critical opportunities for organic and inorganic growth, and defined a pathway for ambitious and unconstrained value creation.

By focusing the organization on its unique characteristic, a strategy built on differentiation, service, and global impact. The top levels of the executive team adopted the revised business plan in full, and have continued to grow and expand in a manner commensurate with the consulting team’s recommendations.