Business Unit Strategy

What we do

Our business unit strategy approach focuses on driving a specific business to full economic potential–whether through an annual planning process, a transformation effort or full turnaround. Such efforts are all about making strategic choices and driving change. The ultimate goal is to rapidly create a proprietary set of actions that serve customers better than the competition.

Only 1 in 10 companies achieves sustainable profitable growth. And of those sustained value creators, 90% lead in their core business. Our business unit strategy approach focuses on achieving full economic potential of the core business and pursuing adjacencies with ruthless discipline, with an eye toward mobilization from Day 1 to ensure our clients convert their strategy into realized results. We work with clients to develop a robust strategic foundation, make choices on where to play and how to build a competitive advantage, and establish flexible priorities that drive results at the front line.

What makes a good strategy?

  • Strategic Foundation. A robust fact base that drives strategic insights and builds the case for change. Establishes the baseline for business boundaries, rules of the game and competitive position (including leadership economics), customer insights and future outlook.
  • Ambition. A bold, inspiring, full potential ambition that drives sustained profitable growth. Defines what the company aims to achieve over a given time horizon, balancing stretch goals—outperforming the market, maximizing full potential, inspiring and aligning the organization—with sustainability and achievability.
  • Where to Play. Clear choices on where to play: which markets and segments the company will pursue and which it will not. Focusing first on growth from the core, expanding through adjacencies where appropriate, and redefining the core when needed.
  • How to Win. Clear choices on how to win: which differentiated management capabilities, operating capabilities and proprietary assets the company will use. Leveraging repeatable models to improve the odds of success.
  • Results at the Front Line. Flexible priorities that follow the money even during turbulence and go beyond "just initiatives". This includes mobilization of the front line to embed change and the creation of feedback loops to monitor and adapt. It ensures organizations have addressed key questions: Is the organization fit to deliver? What is the right operating model? Is your plan complete with ways to predict, measure and manage risk?
Our approach

Bain’s unique approach to business unit strategy overcomes the shortfalls of the typical strategy development process, which focuses on getting to recommendations more than results. In the typical process, substantial time and effort are invested in developing a static fact base and recommendations, with relatively less emphasis on dynamic action planning and execution. The outcome is a strategy that falls into one or more classic strategy pitfalls: it’s not tailored to a company’s specific capabilities and position; it’s too incremental; it’s not scalable; it’s not implementable; it’s not durable; or it’s just plain wrong.

We use several lenses to help our clients develop creative and innovative strategies. Ideas may be generated from an assessment of changes in the "rules of the game," differentiation via new competitive models, new trends, deep consumer insight, the application of sustainable business practices, the expansion of repeatable models and the mining of underutilized assets or platforms, or "hidden assets." To foster creativity further, Bain uses its BothBrain® approach, which helps clients harness the creative and analytical capabilities within a business to revolutionize the ideation process. Our deep industry and functional expertise give us valuable insight into the critical issues our clients are facing. At the same time, our ability to share situational expertise across industry and functional boundaries creates significant value for our clients.

Bain's approach is geared to rapid results by considering options and mobilization efforts early in the process, and leveraging quick wins to build momentum. Critical to this process is communicating early to key stakeholders to ensure buy-in and effective feedback loops that allow management to monitor execution. Mobilization efforts include evaluating challenges to implementation and results by addressing risks, constraints, people and capability gaps from the beginning of the strategy process.

We help clients develop dynamic decision-making capabilities, which aid strategy development during uncertainty. Scenarios are developed by extrapolating macro, industry and competitive trends to determine likely end states. However, since the expected scenario may not be the one that plays out, organizations also need a process to develop robust and adaptable strategies, to monitor actual scenario outcomes and to accommodate course corrections as needed.

Client results
We share our clients' ambitions. We work to understand their reality and deliver true results—focusing on strategic decisions and practical actions. And we align our incentives with our clients' objectives, so they know we're in it together.
Insights
We develop insights that work for our clients. Our approach and recommendations are highly customized and lead to practical actions. Below is a selection of our experts' perspectives on important issues—for our clients and their industries. Visit Bain Insights, Repeatability.com and FoundersMentality.com to read more.