Harnessing ‘brain power’ to solve complex commercial challenges

Francisco Siro discusses the benefits of strategic consultancy

It’s six months since Francisco Siro joined Sagentia Innovation to lead the advisory side of the business. As a senior management consultant with a strong track record in the delivery of business-critical projects, his insight and expertise benefit our own team as well as enriching our client offering.

When Oakland Innovation, OTM and Sagentia recently merged into the single Sagentia Innovation brand, Francisco ensured the strengths of each entity came to the fore. Under his leadership, we’ve created a powerful, integrated advisory offering where scientific and technical knowledge meet commercial/strategic acumen and sector insight.

Here, Francisco considers the big issues of the day which most often necessitate use of strategic consultancy support. He also discusses what makes a good consultant, suggesting that part of the role is to challenge and interrogate clients’ assumptions. In this way, he says, we ensure their innovation and R&D is aligned with relevant sectoral trends in strategic, legislative and technical matters to generate robust, effective and commercially sound products and services.

Bringing clarity to complexity

Two overarching trends currently impact organisations of all sectors, and they are set to dominate the agenda for some time.

Firstly, the need for more sustainable business practices which make better use of resources and reduce waste is a high priority. However, improving sustainability is rarely straightforward. Any changes made to processes, packaging or products have consequences which can sometimes prove more damaging than the problems they set out to solve.

Digital transformation and the Internet of Things also present challenges – as well as opportunities – for many organisations. Leveraging new possibilities presented by technologies such as cloud computing and digital connectivity without compromising factors like security and reliability can be problematic at times.

Our advisory consultancy provides a valuable sounding board for projects related to these trends. For instance, it creates the time, space and opportunity to challenge assumptions and identify ‘unknown unknowns’. Ensuring this happens at the earliest possible stage in product development reduces project risk as well as streamlining and accelerating progress.

Asking difficult questions

One of the key attributes of a good consultant is an ability to read between the lines of a client brief. It’s very easy to take a hypothesis at face value and build a raft of activity that depends on it, only to find that it unravels at some point in the future.

An external consultant is not bound by the politics of the organisation. Nor are they so deeply involved in the product or project that they can’t see the wood for the trees. They bring a different perspective, expert insight and broader contextual understanding that enables them to home in on the issues that matter most. They don’t shy away from difficult questions, choosing instead to interrogate and scrutinise hypotheses that underpin commercial strategy.

This approach requires not only strong technical and sector knowledge but also tenacity and an element of bravery. A good consultant has the courage to speak up, even if what they have to say will be unpopular. They’re able to do this because they know their stuff and understand that flagging potential issues at an early stage is the best way to avoid unexpected problems later.

Solving problems to deliver commercial advantage

At its best, our advisory offering goes beyond the delivery of good ideas. It substantiates ideas, outlining the rationale behind them. Then it offers actionable recommendations to bring the ideas to life efficiently and effectively with commercial goals in mind.

Achieving this requires a blend of technical expertise, commercial acumen and sector insight. It’s about striking an effective balance between macro level understanding (market opportunities, consumer demand, the competitive landscape) and micro level knowledge in specialist fields of science, technology and engineering.

However, the best consultants also know that senior decision makers in client organisations don’t have time to sift through reams of detail. Instead, they need to be presented with a clear, considered proposition backed up with a thorough report that addresses any questions they might raise.

At Sagentia Innovation, we work to a ‘ten-minute rule’. Any client recommendations should be clear and concise enough to engage and persuade business leaders in the space of ten minutes. Once this is achieved, we share relevant detail from the report with individuals and departments that need it.

What gives Sagentia Innovation the edge over other consultancies?

Here at Sagentia Innovation most consultants hold a PhD in their specialist field of science or technology. This brain power is complemented with direct industry experience, a global perspective and in many cases business management qualifications. We work with rigour and vigour to unpick the complex challenges that clients encounter as they develop new products and services.

Furthermore, our consultants collaborate extensively with their product development colleagues at Sagentia Innovation. They also engage with regulatory experts from our sister companies Leatherhead Food Research and TSG Consulting when needed. Ultimately this means we deliver targeted and effective solutions that are mindful of the bigger picture. Our ideas are implementation-ready, enabling clients to accelerate commercial strategies with confidence.

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