In today’s world driven by change and uncertainty, an agile approach to develop, review and update your strategy is essential for success. Likewise, dynamically adjusting the way in which your organisation is structured and the way in which it operates is a key driver of top business performance.
Singular is a trusted adviser to large corporates, mid-size and family owned businesses across a large range of sectors including industrial goods and services, natural resources and energy, logistics and infrastructure and the public and social sector. At the core of our approach, lies a combination of forward-thinking views, practicality and excellence in execution – as well as our continuous leverage of a global network of clients, investors and partners that help us share ideas and opportunities across geographies.
Depending on your business, the axes of future growth opportunities may vary from exploring adjacencies to your current core competencies or considering new sectors which have high potential but need a total overhaul of your organisation. With this much uncertainty, Singular gives you the confidence to identify the right opportunity.
Examples of potential axes of growth that we typically explore include:
- Extending vertically up or down your current value chain
- Expanding horizontally into new commodities within your core activity
- Entering into new geographies beyond your current customer base
- Targeting new customer segments
- Developing a product differentiation (in line with a market trend / opportunity)
- Leveraging technology for opportunities to disrupt your value chain
- Defining different business models to test and learn about completely new sectors / markets (e.g. Corporate Venture Fund, Joint Venture Partnerships)
Our typical strategy engagement will stretch over six to ten weeks and focus on the following activities:
- We ensure we have a full understanding of the status quo including a review of past strategies.
- Our team will conduct belief-audits i.e. interview senior management to gather internal perspectives on future growth options.
- We will benchmark other companies / sectors to bring external perspectives on how others have approached growth to pick relevant key learnings for your company.
- Using growth axes that are relevant for you, we will define a custom growth framework.
- We will develop a long list of strategic options along each growth axis.
- We will shortlist the options based on attractiveness and likelihood of success.
- Lastly, we will detail the shortlisted options including examining the business case, defining the go-to-market strategy and considering the risks and key success factors.
Once your path is defined and accepted in your organisation, we work with you to build execution capabilities to turn great ideas into business outcomes.
88% of business leaders say strategy implementation is key to their competitive advantage. However, only 7% of organisations view themselves as very effective at introducing change. In this rapidly changing environment, it is no longer good enough to have good intent and a new strategy or development model. Ideas need to turn into impact by implementing solutions and seeing them through to the point of successful delivery.
Several common pitfalls affect companies in taking the leap from concept to implementation:
- Companies define their strategy, but don’t implement actions to achieve it due to a lack of understanding of the methods required to do so.
- Budget and skills are not aligned. Often there is not enough money or employees do not have the capacity and/or the capabilities to bring about change.
- Leadership might believe that the concept needs to be implemented, but everyone else in the company does not follow suit.
- The capacity to understand roadblocks and solve problems is lacking.
- There is no model to offer as guidance and assist in learning and adjusting.
We will help your company to be one of the few who are successful in their change efforts by using the following approach:
- We will develop a roadmap that includes a detailed execution plan of key priorities, and maps key milestones and potential challenges, that is signed-off by key stakeholders and initiative owners.
- Resources will be allocated, i.e. budget for people, tools and enablers will be fully aligned with the roadmap.
- A stakeholder management plan will be developed to manage relationships with each key stakeholder, including key messages and engagement initiatives.
- A transformation team will be put in place with skills and tools to support implementation initiatives, monitor results and improve problem solving. This will be a separate unit that has full support from leadership.
- Lastly, we will ensure that operations are agile by implementing a clear process to test, evaluate and re-adjust the transformation plans on an ongoing basis.
We support our clients in developing operating models to reach their long-term goals, starting today. To develop a refreshed operating model, three changes need to be targeted:
- Growth step – Growing a business rapidly, whether through acquisition, major projects or accelerated product deployment, means major business change. Your operating model needs to be ready today and needs to be able to adapt as you grow.
- Performance improvement – Performance must be designed for, with an operating model that enables all parts of your business to operate effectively and efficiently. We target areas of improvement and deliver the results to drive performance.
- Strategy shift – As you look to innovate to stay ahead of a changing market, the underlying business needs to change too. Our approach takes the change in these objectives and translates that into the required change in your operating model.
At Singular we take a holistic approach to designing an operating model that goes beyond moving boxes around an organogram. With your strategic objectives as our compass, we seek to ensure that all the internal business elements are in place to give you the highest chance of success. As such, these engagements typically run for six to twelve months but we look to deliver value as early as possible by using the following approach:
- Defining the required scope of work and processes to achieve your goals
- Determining how responsibilities should be allocated across the business to optimise both effectiveness and efficiency
- Ensuring the right people are in the right place to deliver in this environment
- Ensuring the culture supports the stated objectives and encourages success
- Empowering teams to perform by ensuring the appropriate infrastructure, resources and physical tools are in place
- Assessing your existing capabilities and how to close the gap to where you should be
Culture is an essential enabler of strategy and deserves a high degree of leadership attention. It influences the way people work and is a key component in how the organisation achieves its goals. Culture transformation begins with personal transformation of leaders as they are the ones who create culture.
Changing the way people think and behave is challenging due to the following reasons:
- Culture is informal; thus, cultural change requires more than adjusting official methods and procedures.
- Cultural change is not focused on one specific group but needs to apply to everyone.
- Culture is self-reinforcing in that if someone acts in a specific way, it will be interpreted by others in the organisation.
We help you to overcome these challenges by using the following approach:
- We follow a top-down approach where we define the target culture which is tested and refined with mid-management.
- The desired future culture is defined so that we can identify gaps and prioritise actions to close the gaps.
- Concrete next steps are then defined to induce changes that are immediately visible to the organisation. This includes developing leaders who are able to embody the required culture and address the personal aspect of culture such as values.
- We use a scientific framework integrating psychology and leadership research to quantify a leader’s development stage and to identify concrete areas of improvement.
Investment and advisory services
Singular is a trusted adviser to private equity funds, family offices and strategic investors. We offer the full range of buy-side strategy consulting services: Commercial Due Diligence (CDD), 100-day plan and value enhancement. The majority of our clients seek our support for investments into small-cap to larger mid-cap targets in the industrial goods, software, logistics or natural resources sectors.
Commercial Due Diligence (CDD)
We help our clients evaluate the attractiveness of their targets before they allocate their capital. We believe that superior information is a prerequisite for superior investment decisions, and therefore the foundation for superior returns.
Our approach to deliver superior information is: Experienced. Analytical. Flexible. Unbiased.
- Experienced – We have dedicated CDD teams with deep experience in various industries and technologies as well as expert pools we regularly tap into.
- Analytical – Our CDD approach is analytical and structured, we give our clients the big picture and zoom in on areas critical to the target’s success and future value creation.
- Flexible – We realise that each target company is unique. We strongly believe in a flexible, out-of-the-box approach with regards to the way we ask and answer the key CDD questions.
- Unbiased – We are our clients independent and outspoken sounding board. We will praise a target’s qualities, but we are not shy to point out the cockroaches under the rug.
Our typical CDD project will stretch over two to four weeks but depends on the breadth, depth and complexity of the deal. In these engagements we typically cover:
- Business model of the target
- Market segmentation, sizing, dynamics and fundamental drivers
- Customer analysis
- Competitive landscape and target’s positioning
- Value levers to increase performance in the short, medium and long-term
- Business plan scenarios
Once an investor takes ownership in a company, the first days and weeks are the most critical in laying the foundation for long-term value creation. We support our clients to make the most of the first 100 days.
- Our teams hit the ground well prepared with portfolio company and market insights and initial hypotheses on value creation.
- We come in to work as the link between the investor and the company’s management. We strongly believe in the values of listening, enabling, supporting and rolling up our sleeves.
- In early discussions with the management we detail our hypotheses, eventually validating or discarding them, to gradually build the value creation strategy.
- Based on the company’s past financials as well as the identified value creation levers, we develop a new financial model – evolving into the company’s financial plan after discussions with the company’s executive leadership as well as the investor.
- Working side by side with the company’s management, we translate value creation levers into actionable work packages with clear accountabilities.
- We set up a transparent and structured project management process around the value creation strategy.
- During implementation our teams gradually transition responsibilities to the portfolio company’s management, periodically checking in to monitor progress and offer guidance.
Our clients are in for the long-term and they know that value creation does not end after the first 100 days. A long-term growth strategy will be in place by then, but it might not be delivering sufficient value for the following reasons:
- Reality clash – Initial value creation hypotheses turn out to be (partially) incorrect, or their positive effects were overstated.
- Lost focus – Management is overwhelmed with day-to-day business and short-term projects and loses focus on strategic high effort / high reward initiatives.
- Market changes – Customers, suppliers or competitors behave differently, creating new opportunities or jeopardising the business model, or both.
- Implementation struggle – Timelines are stretched or overrun, quality of deliverables is sub-par, and each answer leads to a series of new questions: Lack of resources, insufficient incentivisation or just the wrong people in place? These may be difficult to assess for an investor outside in.
Whatever the case may be, taking counter measures is essential to keep value creation on track and to meet targets laid out in the investment case.
- We analyse the existing strategy and plans and compare them with actual progress – creating transparency and objectivity for both the portfolio company and the investor.
- Together with the portfolio company’s management, we identify the underlying reasons for the lack in progress.
- If required, we revisit the long-term strategy and propose necessary adjustments to changed market conditions, or to implausible assumptions. If required, we look for new profit pools and seek new ways for product differentiation or geographical expansion.
- In close collaboration with management and investors, we define the necessary measures to bring the long-term value creation back on track.
- Our team translates these measures into actionable work packages and assigns accountabilities.
- We ensure that progress is tracked efficiently by defining suitable project management processes and tools. If required, our team will run the project management office to give support, coach, ensure tight monitoring of timelines and deliverables and keep stakeholders informed.
Digitalisation and technology
Digitalisation and 4.0 technologies are disrupting many industries and forcing companies to adapt faster and faster.
Singular helps clients to understand and optimise the value opportunities in embracing digitalisation and new technologies. We aid clients in recreating their business model to help deliver growth and results in the digital economy.
Innovation, Quotient and Readiness Strategy
At Singular, we are entrepreneurs, investors and thinkers. Across our business we interact with other leaders and innovators who are changing the way the world works. Through this experience, we know that innovation does not happen by accident. We have identified key success factors in becoming an innovation magnet, such as the need to align your innovation objectives with the aim of your strategy, to develop a culture and leadership layer that promotes innovation, and to adjust your internal processes to attract the right partners and skills (e.g. procurement and HR processes).
In line with our agile approach, we believe your company should take to innovation and we seek to deliver results in a short period. We seek to create the framework to turn your business into an innovation magnet by implementing our framework over six to twelve weeks:
- We will help you find preferred partnerships to enable you to connect with sources of innovation that develop your business, and partners who share your challenges to collaborate on solutions.
- To ensure you drive innovation as a key part of your strategy with a disciplined approach to decision making, we will take a programmatic approach which involves the following:
- Conducting an extensive online survey where the results will translate into an Innovation Readiness Score. The analysis will reveal areas for improvement.
- Conducting interviews with top management to discuss survey results and do a belief audit on required actions
- Defining KPIs that will focus on areas of improvement
- Developing a tracking system that will monitor progress
- We will implement plug-in systems to your existing framework which must be flexible enough to accommodate the change.
- We will define and implement processes that welcome innovation, instead of impeding the rapid introduction of pilots or new technologies, while still ensuring the business is protected.
- We encourage a people of tomorrow mindset from leadership through your entire workforce, entrenching a culture that encourages innovation.
Organisations across borders and industries are investing substantially in new technology. These solutions can transform the way companies do business if they are implemented correctly. Singular helps clients to drive adoption to get the most out of technology investments. We use our analytics-based insights to help organisations operate new technologies and capitalise on their technology investments.
Introducing new technologies successfully requires a set of organisational enablers and technology selection processes which we implement through the following approach:
- A needs analysis is done by identifying key operational issues and observing industry trends. We analyse internal operational issues and external technologies.
- We then identify what technology is needed by using expert networks.
- A rigorous selection process with clear criteria is done e.g. evaluation of contribution to production output, cost reductions and safety/environmental targets.
- Technology is implemented quickly using field tests on a limited scale. We use the learnings from field tests to improve technology and roll it out on a larger scale.
- Lastly, we implement a number of enablers to facilitate the introduction of new technology. This includes adapting procurement, operations and HR processes to become more open to new technology and putting dedicated cross-functional project teams in place to enable the introduction of new technology.
Digital and Innovation Ventures
Many businesses understand that in a digital world the fundamentals of making profits will radically change. It is also proven that the larger and organisation is, the more difficult it finds innovating from the inside out. For that reason, many companies are opting for investing in an ecosystem of third parties that develop innovation for them.
Singular helps clients build impactful ventures by leveraging their assets and building their digital capabilities to embrace the digital disruptions that most industries face. We are also keen to have skin in the game and co-invest together with our clients.
We have a simple approach to helping our clients with digital and innovation ventures:
- We define meaningful strategies by supporting you in all aspects of growth plans to ensure you are making sound decisions that will bring high value results.
- We collaborate with our client partners to build strategic corporate ventures by applying a very lean approach to rapidly develop, launch and grow digital products and businesses.
We help you to form and develop impactful joint ventures or stand-alone digital units. We are also more than willing to aid in ramping up operations and finding the right governance set-up.
Baarerstrasse 43, 6300 Zug
Rudd Road 25, Illovo 2196, Johannesburg
Kaiserstrasse 14a, 80801 Munich
Generale Armando Diaz 7, 20123 Milano