Karin von Kienlin:
My name is Karin von Kienlin. I'm a partner in LEK's Munich office, and I focus on growth strategy for industrial customers.
Essentially, industrial products includes anything that's produced for businesses. My clients are companies that could be family owned, private equity owned, publicly listed. They are typically between about half a billion and anything to $50 billion. In which case it typically tends to be certain areas of a very large corporate, a business unit for instance, or a region. So essentially strategy is really about the customer's needs and pain points. Secondly, the competitiveness of the proposition that we offer to them, also in terms of cost in which the propositions offered. And those two together will really drive the margins and the returns on the investments that you have to put in to produce the proposition.
So how do we help? I think the first thing to do is really to summarize where a company is at. So really reflecting on what's been their journey, where did they get to, and what are really the key critical questions that need to be answered? And it may sound trivial, but it actually isn't because you can get lost in a lot of detail about it. It's really key to define the questions correctly, to get a good strategic answer.
And then secondly, it's about getting the fact base together and validate it, because in many cases, there are tons of different opinions. And to get to consensus and to something that energizes the company and gets people to act upon it, you need to create persuasion and you do that typically by bringing data. We once said, "In God, we trust, everyone else, please bring data," and that epitomizes what we're really about. We really want to get to the bottom of things to get to the right answer for the company.
Yeah, a good example of how we can help clients is really when you go into the detail of what can be done for a specific proposition because many clients would ask themselves for a specific product project. If I wanted to make that totally sustainable, what would be the cost? And it turns out that on quite a number of projects in packaging, for instance, the cost would actually be quite prohibitive and you'd actually have to take quite a long time to get it approved and to make it usable. That means that the other big job that packaging is meaning to satisfy, which is protecting a product, communicating its value, being cost effective, that, that could be out of the window if it were sustainable. And so there is an inherent conflict in many initial propositions, and it's really about testing the trade offs. On the one hand you want to be sustainable, but on the other hand, you need to still get the number one job done, which is protect the product in a cost effective manner.
In some cases, our clients are super well aware of what the problem is, and they've already deployed teams internally and done quite a lot of work. But in some cases it turns out that the actual problems have not really been understood that well. So for instance, what looks like a pure execution problem is actually more a problem of ill defined goals that were either too ambitious or not well enough defined or just not hitting the mark, really. We would expect that over the coming years, as we edge towards 2025 and 2030, quite a lot of companies will find that some of the goals that they've established a couple of years back may need revisions. And the question is, how do you do that and how do you make sure that the top down vision really matches the bottom up capability of actually doing it?
Yeah. So on the one hand, it's augmenting the view that our clients have about the external environment. What do their customers really want? What's the regulator up to? What is competition up to? What are the latest trends and where are things likely to develop to? And then adjusting the internal view of the strategy to these external facts and discuss, how do we respond to specific changes that they haven't really envisaged, for instance. It's about a co-creative process of acknowledging what's out there, looking at the facts, interpreting them, and then evolving a strategy process that gets you to specific actions.
Yeah. So what really differentiates us is that we come with decades of experience in understanding client problems, understanding the data that's available to help solve the problems and then creatively thinking about how we link our experience in interpreting data with the data to come to conclusions. But just looking at the data isn't going to solve the problem. So the question is, what do you make of it? What's the interpretation? What does it tell you? And that's what great consultants do. They help the client get to the answer. And ideally, at the end, they would reflect on the journey and say, "That's exactly right. It was there in front of us, we just didn't see it."