Engineering, Construction and Industrial Industries

Effectively Identifying Solutions to Drive Improvements to Performance

June 17, 2014

It is one thing for a mechanism to be available by which we may transfer best practices and innovation and quite another to have an actual mechanism in place to do the actual transferring.

The critically chosen few improvements is what is important. This is not an exercise in trying to figure out how many things we can fix or improve. It is about the careful selection of only a couple of things that will have the greatest impact. (80-20 RULE).

We are not trying to establish a corporate strategy. What we can, could or should do is to make reasonably sure that a “group” strategy is aligned with the corporate strategy. In other words, what can a capital projects organization offer, and implement strategy wise, to support what is happening at the corporate level?

Strategic Vision for Capital Projects Group

Our "SWOT" diagram tool above identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of an organization are that are ideal because it keeps everything simple and easy to follow. Many are familiar with it.

Exploit the client’s internal strengths and external opportunities.

Defend against the client’s external threats and internal weaknesses.

Neutralize and/or minimize the capabilities and intentions of the client’s current and potential competitors.

Understand, by interviewing, the client’s own as well as internal clients’ current, emerging and/or unarticulated needs.

We refer to the results of this document as The Strategic Agenda.

Given the complexity and diversity of information, we find it helpful to follow a rather structured approach. This structured approach helps one identify gaps in what we know, what we don’t know and most importantly what we think we know but don’t, i.e., bad assumptions.


Sometimes we work with clients who are not really aligned internally, or at least we think they are not aligned. The top (top-down) of the organization (the Board and senior management) know their strategy going forward among themselves but it is not shared, except in the most generic manner, down into the organization. This information is "sticky" - either they can’t share it or won’t share it. However it really is not too difficult to generally gain an understanding. There is always someone in the client organization who can verbalize it in some detail. This information must be kept with the strictest of confidence and is covered by our confidentiality agreements in place in our contracts.

In lieu of obtaining that information, critical reading of their last few annual reports, as well as recent listings of their press releases, offers a pretty good picture in the direction in which the corporate client is thinking for the near term. This is a great source of strategy. Remember our definition of strategy, in the context of top-down bottom-up, what is going to be different, new or improved, not what they are currently operationally doing commonly referred to as their business model.

Strategic Thinking – Strategic Vision – Strategic Plan


Bottoms-up management, also known as middle management, and also known as business unit management, et al can also have an improvement strategy for their area of business. Generally, it is undocumented, and also is only known to a chosen few and is also esoteric sticky information.

This local business area strategy (bottom up) must be developed, aligned with the top down strategy and documented so that a fully encompassing Strategic Vision is developed. This then can evolve and develop into a Strategic Agenda (what’s going to be different about what we are doing in the near future).

The Bottom-Up Strategy involves the eight steps below which we will cover individually in future articles.

Step 1 - Establishing Demanded Capabilities

Step 2 - Measuring the Current Performance

Step 3 - Assessing and Establishing a Portfolio of "Viable Solutions"

Step 4 - Cross - Comparative Evaluation Demanded Capabilities Versus Viable Solutions

Step 5 - The Solutions Rank Scoring

Step 6 - Checking Impacts Utilizing a Forcing Triangle

Step 7 - Selecting and Reconciling Conclusions

Step 8 - Communicating and Obtaining Buy-In


When we collaborate with our clients, we can build trust, reduce relational stress and increase innovation-related activities, thus growing both of our businesses. We can offer our clients a huge amount of competitive advantage.

We and companies like us are generally recognized as having especially large amounts of entrained knowledge on significant current practices and innovative capability because we know what the companies - that is our clients - are doing and need and also because mechanism for knowledge transfer and subsequent implementation to our clients are virtually in place. There is a big difference between "virtually in place" and "in place" however. This document outlined the necessary, and in some cases optional, steps to follow to have the mechanism "in place."

CIP® is a planning framework and process designed to help our clients along with us to functionally focus, lead and implement improvements in their business activities. In this manner we, jointly, will have a significant impact on how services are delivered, generally capital projects or other activities, to business units and ultimately stakeholders.

The benefit will be to drive increased shareholder value to our private sector clients and drive an increase in benefit cost ratio to our public sector clients.


Interested in receiving and/or discussing our approach and our experience?

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Call: (240) 670-5552.