Wednesday, August 9, 2017

I'm a Solution Strategist and This is How I Work Part One

Brandon Rozelle, SVP, Growth Strategy
Culture / Strategy

My mother has no idea what I do for a living. Let's be clear, my mother is an extremely intelligent person, but when I try to describe what a Solution Strategist is and does, I'm inevitably met with the same follow-up response: "Yes, but what do you do?"

Increasingly, I am finding the need to better define my role professionally as well, specifically within the context of Rightpoint. Channeling my mom, lately I've had several clients ask me some version of her same question:

"Where do you go, or who do you follow to get insights on digital change and marketplace evolution?"

In essence, that is "what do I do, and how do I do it?"… and an idea began to form. Maybe the way to kill two birds with one stone would be to talk a little bit about what Rightpoint's Solution Leaders actually do, and provide some insights into how I do my own job — ideally providing insights about the role and exploring a few key ideas:

  • The Job Itself (an overview)
  • Sources of Influence
  • Time Management
  • Tips, Tricks & Essential Apps 

In the spirit of the blog format, I'll cover these topics over a blog series (call it ~3 episodes.) Now repeat the mantra with me:

Keep it focused, keep it brief (if possible) …and keep it moving.

One thing I want to get out of the way upfront is that I don't have all the answers. What I will share throughout this series is a glimpse into the current iteration of a process that I am constantly trying to adapt, evolve and improve. One of the benefits of working with incredibly passionate and talented individuals is I have no shortage of insights into what better and smarter might look like.

Credit: I love LifeHacker's How I Work series. It is one of the sources I follow for insight and inspiration. (If you don't know it, check out the recent article that profiles Gianna Toboni and Isobel Yeung of Vice News.) I want to credit them for this idea and format. I'm just some schmo using their construct to have a conversation around a medium-complex idea. Keep fighting the good fight, LifeHacker.

For the first installation of this three-part series, I'm going to focus on defining the role of Solution Leaders, as well as my specific area of focus, Solution Strategy.

At Rightpoint, we describe Solutions as our head, while our National Practices (the disciplines in which all of our consultants sit who work day-in and day-out serving our clients) as the heart. Solutions are how Rightpoint goes to market. Our current solutions include:

Our solutions typically group into a focus of either Empowering the Business (what sits inside of a firm's four walls) or Servicing the Customer (the engagement points that interface directly with our client's customer.

In Experience Strategy & Planning, we spend our time trying to understand a company's core mission—so that anything we do to engage internally or externally is driven from a place of core value, and this tends to be how define differentiation.

We are trying to answer:

  1. What is changing/emerging in the marketplace? (competitively, new capabilities, emerging trends)
  2. How are customers/users evolving? (channel-shift, referential influence, loyalty, atrophy)
  3. Where are there gaps or areas of oversaturation in the competitive landscape? (who is doing it well, where are the points of differentiation, can we adopt a challenger position?)

Experience Strategy & Planning is perhaps a little different in that we are not only trying to answer these questions for Rightpoint—we engage our clients to help them define and evolve their business or digital strategies in a way that uncovers advantage as well.

I spend a good amount of my time helping clients adopt strategies to put their own customers in the center of how they make decisions.

As the Solution Lead for business and digital strategy, I spend a lot of my time trying to decipher shifts in the market. I analyze trends across various industries and help develop a point-of-view (POV) for existing clients, prospective customers, and Rightpoint as a whole. A heavy area of focus for this space is trying to understand what is happening with end-customers. We could look at Retail and CPG firms, Healthcare (payer and provider), and B2B Manufacturing, as all very different industries with different customers and different needs. Those subtleties are we spend our time helping our clients understand, with the ultimate goal of adopting approaches to build more meaningful 1-to-1 interactions between those firms and their end-customers.

clarity brandon

The diagram above illustrates what inputs we use to evaluate opportunities for our clients when we conduct strategic planning and roadmap engagements. It is similar to what a Solution Strategist is working to understand across industries at any particular moment in time.

So, to more honestly answer my mother's question of "What do you actually do?" The simplest answer is that I help advise my clients on how their market and customers are evolving and what they can do to take advantage of those trends. We'll get into some of the more tangible nitty gritty in the next post, but it involves a lot of reading, meeting with clients across many different industries, asking a lot of questions, declaring what it all means in the form of POVs, speaking, defining business and digital strategies, building business cases, and helping clients plan their short and long-term strategic future.

For Rightpoint, it means applying the very same methods to monitoring our marketplace and finding the most effective paths to help our clients and prospects understand what outcomes we can drive for their organizations.

Now you (and my mother) have a better sense for what I do, but you might still be wondering what this means for your business. Watch for part 2 of this series (coming soon) to learn more. And explore our Experience Strategy & Planning capabilities for how we can help you with your customer experience strategy.

Brandon Rozelle is the Vice President of Solution Strategy at Rightpoint. Follow Brandon on Twitter and LinkedIn.