Together we clarify strategy,
drive innovation, and
Are you clear on where to play, who to serve and how to win?
Have you the right vehicles for this stage of your innovation journey?
Can you get your desired change off the page and adopted by people?
Strategy wins today and shapes tomorrow.
There is nothing more powerful than a strategy whose time has come. Winning strategies are simple, with hindsight. Foresight is more valuable; it’s also more complicated. Leaders see what others don’t and act now to shape the future.
We extend today’s competitive advantage and make tomorrow’s real.
Innovation holds the promise of new growth
Yet for many the space has become confusing. Should you disrupt, change-the-game, think like designers, act like entrepreneurs, copy the latest trend or just tweak a winning formula?
We make sense of innovation and make it work for you.
Change is profoundly personal and highly political
Technical change is tangible and logical. It demands the right expertise and smart coordination. Human change is intangible and emotional. It demands that you unearth and align people’s energies to develop and grow.
We balance hard and soft to deliver change.
Some challenges we’ve helped clients crack
Diageo’s European Beer Leadership Team had a relentless focus on cost of goods sold (COGs). A state-of-the-art brewery and consolidation strategy significantly moved this dial. However, the European Beer organisation had a lot more value to add to Diageo worldwide.
AO designed and delivered a strategic innovation sprint that shifted mindsets from costs to breakthrough growth. This involved select tools and analogues together with relevant external experts and senior executives from other sectors – all working together at a fast moving pace. Dubbed the Kilmainham Gaol (jail) strategy, outputs led to new global manufacturing services, new beers and a new Dublin based whiskey business. Perhaps of more value the process instilled a capability and greater confidence to explore wider horizons.
Pfizer was managing blockbuster patent cliffs, mega mergers, and a new business model. Pfizer Global Manufacturing (PGM) Ireland had to manage premium product overcapacity and help shape Pfizer’s path forward.
AO helped the Irish leadership candidly assess changing markets and their strategic resources. A growth process led to an ambitious product and service vision; and an opportunity portfolio that included product lifecycle management, technical services, and upstream innovations. Today PGM Ireland manufactures many new products, and manages new services and business models. Critically it has the capability to sense and seize opportunities that provide competitive advantage.
Closing The Growth Gap
Capability For Growth
A big growth ambition highlighted a big gap vis-à-vis current forecasts. To close the gap, a growth accelerator was stood-up.
Step one, get real on age-old and new ideas and agree a growth portfolio. Then, diverse external and internal teams were equipped with knowledge, tools and expert support. A pipeline of innovative products, services and business models has successfully launched. Crucially a growth capability has been developed. Opportunities once deemed radical are now rapid extensions to a growth platform.
The IDA has been instrumental in Ireland’s success. The challenge was to build on foreign direct investment (FDI) success and ensure that Ireland’s value proposition attracted more innovation related activity.
Eddie and Ian led a participative strategy process that leveraged the knowledge of IDA and key partners. While the enduring IDA vision remained, the strategy codified how to better deliver it. The emphasis was on knowledge ecosystems, team Ireland and a coherent FDI development process that managed clients from attraction through to embedding their strategic capability in Ireland. During implementation FDI jobs increased by 40% and IDA clients accounted for 68% of Ireland’s innovation spend.
Leading 4 Results
As competition intensified on all fronts, we helped An Post clarify and balance its strategy. Leadership to transform this 10,000 employee and centuries old company was imperative. Know thyself is essential for leadership, equally critical is the capability and motivation to deliver relevant strategic results.
AO designed and delivered a programme tied to strategic KPIs. Each member of the top 200 participated in four modules over six months. Executives were equipped to coach participants and evaluated KPI specific projects defined by cross functional teams. Diploma level accreditation was offered and achieved by 65%. Top box satisfaction for the programme was 87%. Over the programme duration, An Post improved next day delivery by a record 10.5%, reduced absenteeism by 4% and identified projects with significant payback.
Making Sense Of A
For Diageo change is constant. AO has supported this for decades. In 2009 Diageo Ireland sensed their people’s weariness as they commenced another change programme.
Loren created Making Sense of a Changing World, a programme that empowered people to change. Participants at all levels were given the opportunity to experience the change agenda as a benefit to themselves, those they care about and the business’s continued success. Over 500 people self-selected to participate. They were provided with tools to access their own resources and aspirations in practical ways. The response led to a more ‘adult-adult’ and energised approach to individual-organisation development.
Diverse players who love to converge on big challenges.
We stem from multiple disciplines – business, psychology, technology, engineering, design and marketing – and masterfully integrate on strategy, innovation and change.
Great things happen when we combine our expertise with yours.
DR. Ian Kierans
Ian is a strategist, innovator and psychologist. He facilitates the old and new to create the next. Ian believes novel insights, diverse teams, and tailored tools deliver breakthroughs. His methods have led to new products, services and businesses for Financial Services, FMCG, Healthcare and Recreation industries.
Prior to founding AO, Ian worked with Accenture USA at the front lines of the world’s largest telco-technology strategic alliance. During the dot.com boom for Diamond Technology Partners, Ian consulted with Fortune 500s to shape strategies for a digital era. Recently in Silicon Valley, Ian researched how established companies and start-ups build the competitive capability to continually innovate.
As Adjunct Professor at Trinity College Dublin, Ian teaches graduates how to design and test innovative business models with customers, partners and backers. He also teaches MBAs in Ireland and Germany’s #1 ranked schools the state-of-the-art on strategy, innovation and entrepreneurship. Ian holds a BA, an MA, an MBA and PhD.
Ian can often be found with a bunch of “Mamils” cycling across mountains in Europe and Wicklow!
PROFESSOR Keith Goffin
Keith explores and creates new markets. His hybrid background in engineering and psychology underpins his methods for identifying customers’ hidden needs. Application of these methods with clients have created innovations for diverse B2B and B2C markets, including financial services, healthcare, industrial goods, construction, recreation, hardware and software.
After a successful management career in the medical electronics industry, Keith moved to academia. He now conducts leading-edge research on innovation strategy, and product and market development. Keith focuses on developing practical but proven methods for breakthrough innovation. He has published widely, including three books. Keith is currently researching business model innovation and advising leading companies.
Keith is Professor of Innovation at Stockholm School of Economics and Emeritus Professor at Cranfield School of Management. He holds a BSc in physics, an MSc in medical physics and a PhD in Customer Driven Innovation. He teaches widely on executive programmes across Europe.
Outside work, Keith is an enthusiastic mountaineer and for 2018 is training to climb an unnamed, unclimbed 6000m peak somewhere in the Indian Himalaya (and he won’t tell you exactly where).
DR. Loren Duffy
Loren helps individuals, teams and organisations achieve high performance. His dedication to understanding how people develop, and transform was sparked at a young age by the imaginative work of Carl Jung. Ever since, he has sought out and worked with the major pioneers of psychology.
Loren believes that aligning the physical, mental, emotional and imaginative aspects of self is the key to creativity, self-renewal, and sustainable performance. Integrating neuroscience, social psychology, and behavioural science he takes a rigorous, but practical approach to how we can better organise our companies and our lives. He has facilitated major culture change for companies that are growing and seek sustainability, and for dying companies that need to radically turnaround. He most often starts with the top team.
Loren consults on creative projects in entertainment, influenced by his Hollywood film, music and advertising backgrounds. In sport he coaches elite talent who compete to win and strive to develop personally. Loren lectures in a wide variety of learning and development topics, drawing on his experiences working with street gangs of LA, conflict in the north of Ireland, and his work with the United Nations. He holds a BA, MSc, and PhD in Psychology, focusing his doctoral research on individual-organisational transformation for companies facing complex change.
He is a master diver, music lover, and thought provocateur.
DR. Eddie Molloy
Eddie founded AO to integrate diverse management thinking and tools and to apply them to solving knotty client problems. He is regarded as one of the outstanding consultants in the areas of strategy and large-scale change. For over 35 years he has played a lead role in many of the landmark cases of organisational transformation (e.g. Guinness/Diageo, Apple, Pepsi, Boston Scientific, PM Group, An Post and the Revenue Commissioners).
His ground-breaking ideas on the strategic development of multi-national subsidiaries have been widely adopted in Ireland and imitated abroad. More than 500 Senior Managers have attended his signature AO programme, Managing Change in Turbulent Times.
He is joint author of a number of books on organisation development. He is a frequent contributor to the discourse on public affairs. He is also a member of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, a board member of Mental Health Reform and Honorary Consul for Barbados in Ireland.
Eddie holds a PhD in Developmental Psychology, an MSc. in Org. Behaviour and a MSc Psych. His first intellectual love is Philosophy.
DR. Michael Gray
Michael is digital strategist and data scientist. He has developed and implemented digital strategies for financial services, technology hardware and software, professional services and telecoms clients across the world.
At Yahoo, he led projects for the communications business including: Big data analytics for the mail anti-spam team, data analytics and insight for the Yahoo mail growth team, and mail product development experimentation testing.
For HP Labs he conducted big data analytics research in the context of managing and mining structured and unstructured information to derive competitive business insight. He also led design and test research projects using proprietary and open source big data analytic platforms to understand the impact of information quality on decision making. He evolved these advantages into an innovative business model that is now a healthcare service business.
Michael holds a PhD and a MS in Systems Engineering from Auburn University and a BS Engineering from Westpoint.
Michael likes to fly and jump out of planes.
DR. Evy Sakellario
Evy is an innovation-marketing expert. She has combined consulting and executive training with top multinational and non-profit organisations with University teaching and research. Previously, she had a senior marketing and innovation business career at Unilever UK, and Unilever Greece-Cyprus.
Evy is masterful in eliciting new customer insights and translating them into breakthrough concepts and customer-centric innovation strategies. Her focus is helping CMOs/Marketing managers to gain new perspectives, to uncover breakthrough customer insights and to develop competitive marketing and innovation strategies by integrating advanced theory with business practice.
Evy is senior lecturer at Kingston University and associate faculty of design, media and management at Buckinghamshire University. She has done extensive work with the Innovation Centres in London, Amsterdam, Brussels and Milan.
She holds a DBA from the University of Surrey, UK and an MBA from Loyola University of Chicago, USA.
Ciaran has extensive experience creating innovative products, services and business models. He has held roles as Innovation Director and Head of Strategy, and in M&A and strategy execution in Telecoms, eCommerce, Renewable Energy, Forestry and Recreation.
For Coillte he created a new B2C recreation business; helped scale a technology start-up apply data analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT) to forestry operations; and developed the wind energy strategy that shifted the business model from a passive player to a full-scale Wind Farm Developer. Ciaran successfully led the team that negotiated the ‘make or break’ interconnection agreements for Digicel in four new countries.
Ciaran’s background is business strategy and innovation (MSc in Strategy and a BBS in Business). He regularly presents at leadership conferences, is an associate of St. Gallen’s Institute of Technology – Business Model Innovation Lab and a member of the Irish Research & Development Group (IRDG) on Design Thinking.
Ciaran, a lifelong rugby player, recognises the importance of timing and contends he could’ve been a pro. He settles for wins at work and vicariously through others as Honorary Treasurer of Ireland’s oldest rugby club.
Valerie is a Leadership Facilitator, Strategic Change Consultant and Executive Coach. She has a wealth of experience working in organisational development both at leadership team and individual level. She has held senior HR leadership roles for over 25 years in large multi nationals such as Diageo, Nestlé, and Rowntree in Europe, Asia and Africa. Most recently Valerie was the Global Organisation Effectiveness Director for Diageo.
Valerie is known for combining intellectual rigour with a practical and commercial approach to deliver sustainable change. She has a track record of delivering organisational growth through complex transformational change and cost reduction.
Valerie creates open and trusting relationships which underpin her interventions. She identifies and builds on the strengths of leaders, enhancing their self-insight, enabling them to move to positive sustainable change. She is known for coaching with purpose in order to stretch individuals to elicit their greatness.
We want creative and critical problems solvers to help us develop & grow
We believe in…
…working with people, not on people. Co-creating potent questions and answers. Knowing and doing. The AO way guides how we crack each challenge.
We candidly assess the external challenges and internal capability.
Together we define goals and carefully design the process to get there.
We get people and processes working to
We embed the new capability to continually develop and grow.
Vital Topics for Senior Managers
insights and tools for growth
Our reputation is based on applying the most up-to-date knowledge and wide practical experience to the challenges facing senior managers today. The need for 1-day masterclasses on vital strategy, innovation and change topics is triggered by recurring challenges we encounter in our work.
The format is bringing together small numbers of participants from non-competing companies. Pre-work includes: a short diagnosis which informs final content; and reviewing carefully selected articles. AO Masters make short presentations illustrated with live local and international cases, tools and advice on company applications.
Large or small, established or start-up, most companies want more growth. Many CEOs call for innovation because it holds the promise of growth. It also causes some managers to roll their eyes. Innovation has come to represent everything and nothing at the same time. Around the world busy executives ask us: should we ‘disrupt our business’, ‘open a lab’, ‘think like designers’, ‘work with start-ups’ or ‘hold a hackathon’?
This Masterclass will help you make sense of innovation in order to grow your business.
Do you have a strategy for your strategy?
Advanced strategy-making requires that different types of strategy (e.g. corporate, business division, subsidiary) and degrees of ambition (e.g. defend, extend and disrupt) must be matched with the right process. In this Masterclass you will learn how to:
- Put strategy in it’s place – recognise the different types of strategy and their relevance to your company
- Design the means to achieve the ends – apply AO’s strategy design tool to fit your process to your ambition
- Use simple rules to navigate complexity – the critical success factors for every strategy process
Are you ready to lead strategic change?
For decades we have heard “Change or die”, “Change is constant”, “Change is just cost cutting”, “Change is hard”. We’ve bottled the key components of strategic change. In this Masterclass you will learn how to:
- Diagnose leadership readiness – review and discuss the vital components to lead strategic change
- Establish a ‘change unit’ – understand the structure, people and tools to execute change projects
- Empower change – engage the people who need to deliver and adopt change