27 Apr

Disruption + Speed Equals…Opportunity or Threat?

A key observation in Geoffrey Moore’s latest book, Zone to Win, is that modern businesses are profoundly impacted by disruption plus speed coupled with the tension between protecting the existing business from disruption and innovating to catch the next wave. There is no simple answer. Where do you focus amidst all the chaos? Organizations are typically awash in internal information about their offers, technology, and capabilities but lack intelligence and understanding regarding their external environment.

There are many tools available for organizations to look at and listen to the external environment, the market. Here are a few. Customer satisfaction surveys are one way to glean external market feedback. At a very high level, a PEST Analysis examines the Political/Regulatory, Economic, Social, and Technology trends and the impact they have on an organization. Drilling down, a Five Forces Analysis examines an organization’s immediate rivals, the threat of new entrants and substitutes, as well as the power exerted by buyers and suppliers. Win/Loss Analysis is effective at identifying the specifics on why you win and lose deals and to whom. The aforementioned tools combine primary and secondary research techniques to cast a wide net to capture information and connect the dots about your market.

In markets that are fast moving and highly disruptive, knowledge of the external market is a great place to start.

31 Mar

Profiting From Change: How Some Health Care Organizations Are Navigating Industry Chaos

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For every industry there is a ‘current state’ and a ‘future state’. The space between them is called ‘change’….and in an industry like health care, the term ‘chaos’ is more appropriate.  This chaos can represent either opportunity or threat, depending on an organization’s ability to understand and respond by making the right decisions and investments. Innovation is happening at a pace never seen before in the health care industry. Political and regulatory change, technology change, demographic and societal change are all driving new market needs for consumers, providers, payors and others. From telemedicine to population health management to connected health, to social patient experience and crowd-sourcing solutions, the pressure on organizations intensifies as they jockey to fill those emerging market needs.

In the midst of all this change, executives are trying to make the right decisions to survive and grow. Product managers and developers need to place bets on new products and innovation, chief marketing officers need to invest in campaigns that position their organizations effectively, and sales executives need to compete ‘in the trenches’ against a dizzying array of competition. CEOs and other leaders need to bring all of these functions together to create strategic plans. Beyond making sense of the chaos, how does an organization gain the confidence to make the right investments in order to grow and not get left behind?

Unfortunately, there is no silver bullet, no single solution.

Although no one can tell the future, some organizations are better at preparing for it than others. How is it that companies like Catamaran (now part of OptumRx), Coloplast and Express Scripts are recognized by Forbes in its latest list of the most innovative companies, while others seem to be paralyzed?

One way in which we’ve observed health care organizations change their mindset has been when they apply their expertise on the clinical side to their business strategy. These organizations are mining data from many sources and analyzing it in a longitudinal, systematic manner. They use the information to identify opportunities to engage directly with consumers, their providers, health coaches and others to close gaps in care. The concept has been applied across the health continuum in wellness, chronic condition management, pharmaceutical safety and adherence, population health management and many others. Optum’s Care Management program, Express Scripts’ Rational Med, Healthways’ TargetTM and Humana’s Gaps in Care programs are only a few examples.

What if this model could be applied to business strategy?

While there are distinct challenges with applying this model to business strategy, the basic model is something we’ve been applying for our customers for nearly 15 years to give them clarity about the changing world around them and the strategic moves that can help them grow their business. They apply this insight to everything from training their salespeople to developing new products and services to making high-stakes technology investments and more.

For health care organizations that are heads down, charging hard and working to meet growth and profitability goals, it can be difficult to take a breath and consider the benefits of applying systematic market and industry intelligence to strategic decisions. Applying the concepts of what they already know gives them a place to start. The basic notion of using empirical data to make decisions and perform interventions that improve outcomes is at the heart of healthcare….and at the heart of strategic intelligence applied to your business to improve growth and profitability outcomes.

If you will be attending the American Telemedicine Association conference May 14 to 17 in Minneapolis, please stop by booth #1325 to say hello and learn more about how Line of Sight helps organizations like yours make sense of, and grow, amidst the chaos.

29 Feb

Our Journey Continues



This – the creation, care, and feeding of the Line of Sight Group consultancy – all started as a passion for two kinds of challenges:

  1. the challenge of impacting the strategy of organizations, and
  2. the challenge of making sense of seemingly random data and turning it into meaningful, strategic insights upon which our clients could act.

Since 2002, it has been our clients, staff, partners, and mentors guiding me and shaping Line of Sight Group into what we are today…and where we are headed next.

I started Line of Sight having worked in various sales, product development, market research, and strategy roles with three respected Twin Cities organizations across three different industries – Deluxe Corp, Jostens, and Optum/UnitedHealth. Building out and leading competitive intelligence functions at those organizations leveraged my skills and provided the kinds of challenges I was seeking.

The idea of Line of Sight was to do work similar to what I was already doing as an employee – only to do it as an outside partner. I soon learned that it was much more complex and risky than I had thought. However, it was the relationships formed during those years that led to our early success.  We grew through referrals and those who knew my work. I’d get calls from people I’d worked with previously who had moved on to another organization saying, “Remember that strategic analysis you did for us last year at my old company? We need a similar ‘deep dive’ at my new company!”

The work load quickly grew beyond what I could handle; I was able to convince talented people who had similar skill sets and passion to join me. Jen Loehr was just out of college with a degree in Journalism and a strong, Midwestern work ethic, and helped to build out Market-i, our cloud-based platform and the first intelligence monitoring programs. I had previously worked with Sara at Deluxe and at a weak moment she agreed to help me with analyzing the newly developing Medicare Advantage industry. Derek was a student in my competitive intelligence course at St. Catherine’s and began doing part-time monitoring work before becoming our first full-time employee. Others have joined along the way, each adding their own unique skills and personalities. Jennifer S., Jennifer E. (yes, we have 3 Jennifers), Jessica, Mike, Glenn and Brett all share the same values and drive for helping our clients better serve their customers by understanding and taking advantage of change in the business environment.

Our new website and brand refresh is just part of our continued evolution. It started with feedback from our clients – those corporate researchers and their associates who are developing products, communicating with the market, selling, and sometimes running the entire organization. They told us what they value most about how they work with us. We kept those things and built on them. We looked at our competition. We focused on where we are different and better. We listened to our clients’ stories, we observed, we made some strategic decisions. We brought on new talent and developed new relationships. We re-prioritized some activities and reallocated some resources. As Peter Drucker said, “The first step in a growth policy is not to decide where and how to grow. It is to decide what to abandon.”  We stepped back to better understand how we provide value to our clients and developed the Grow, Protect, Focus mantra to reflect what we had been doing all along.

The future for Line of Sight Group is bright. Not only do we have a new look and feel but a new focus and energy. We excel at helping our clients grow their business in health, financial, education, and manufacturing/retail spaces and will continue to do that. We have assembled the skills, technology and talent to better serve our core clients:

  • Executive teams and CEOs with sharper strategy creation and alignment of Sales, Marketing and Product functions;
  • Sales teams so they can win more and target more accurately;
  • Marketing teams can listen to the market to create superior content and messaging; and,
  • Products teams to create differentiated products the market ultimately wants to buy.

Through it all, our core purpose and passion will remain as it has been: To help our clients grow, protect, and focus their business by making strategic moves that provide unique and better value to customers than their competition.   

As always, we’re here to help. Have a look around our new website and (newly launched) social media presences (links below), and take a moment to say “hello” from wherever you may be.  We’d love to connect.