Investor-Owned Utility – Creating a Better Strategy by Identifying Hidden External Risks
An investor owned utility in the United States was facing an uncertain future with respect to its principal electric generation facility. The utility had been locked in a dispute with the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regarding the installation of emissions-reduction technology at the utility’s coal-fired power plant. Facing millions of dollars in added costs if the company installed the equipment demanded by the EPA, or millions of dollars in potential fines for failing to install the equipment, utility executives developed two alternative strategies for consideration by the company’s board of directors. Each of the proposed strategies would meet environmental requirements while delivering an adequate return to investors. However, each strategy required that the utility convince an unsympathetic legislature and an even more unreceptive regulatory agency to authorize a new method of cost recovery that would allow the utility to recoup stranded costs from the power plant.
The company’s management team engaged STAR Group to help the utility better understand the implications of pursuing either of its two proposed strategies. Working closely with the company’s key decision makers, STAR Group assembled a 29-person cross-functional team to develop a map of possible outcomes using the Implications Wheel® process. In just a few hours, the team developed over 1000 possible implications for the two strategies and scored each of these possible implications for desirability and of occurrence.
The results of the I-Wheel™ process were remarkable. Under either strategy, the company was highly likely to encounter a significant, uncontrollable risk that would produce extremely undesirable results.
Based on their thorough understanding of the implications associated with the two originally proposed strategies, the executive team was able to pursue a course of action that will significantly reduce the company’s risk exposure and improve the likelihood of a successful outcome.
U.S. Department of Energy – Avoiding a Multi-Million Dollar Mistake
The United States Department of Energy (DOE) asked STAR Group to assist in the development of regionally appropriate public involvement methods for several carbon capture and sequestration demonstration projects. Working with over 30 individuals from across the United States, STAR Group utilized the Implications Wheel® process to examine the short and long-term implications if DOE substantially increased public involvement and outreach efforts in connection with DOE’s Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnership (RCSP) Initiative. Based on information developed from the I-Wheel™ process, the DOE avoided a multi-million dollar expense on a proposed public outreach initiative that was very likely to bring about significant long-term negative impacts on the RCSP.
International Consumer Products Manufacturer – Avoiding Catastrophe
A Fortune® 500 consumer products manufacturer used the Implications Wheel® to anticipate a potentially catastrophic design flaw in one of its products. A cross functional team from engineering, manufacturing, sales, marketing and customer service examined the implications of bringing a new, lightweight version of a product to market. One possible implication – later identified as “95% certain” to occur – revealed that the design flaw would literally make the product “blow the face off” its user. Based on this data – which was undetected despite rigorous testing and engineering reviews – the company was able to redesign the product and bring it to the market successfully, without incident. The company conservatively estimated the value of this single finding at over $100 million.
National Not-for-Profit Medical Organization – Seizing a Hidden Market Opportunity
Using the Implications Wheel®, a world-renowned research clinic identified a significant risk to its business. The risk, uncovered during an exploration that was focused on a competitor’s anticipated entry into the clinic’s market territory, allowed the clinic to make a pro-active business acquisition well in advance of the competitor’s move. Even better: because the I-Wheel™ process identified both the risk and the potential opportunity well ahead of any move by its competitor, the clinic was able to complete the business acquisition on exceptionally favorable terms, giving it the dual benefits of keeping the cost of the acquisition to a minimum while securing the clinic’s competitive position within its territory.
Privately Held Company – Creating Support for the Strategic Plan; Improving Corporate Culture
An $8MM mobile dentistry company developed a strategic plan to include a goal to double in size and then sell the company in 5 years. The firm engaged STAR Group to provide a deeper understanding of the implications associated with this goal. Assembling a group of 25 individuals representing the organization’s board of directors, management, key employees and suppliers, STAR Group facilitated an Implications Wheel® process to examine the short-term and long-term implications of achieving this goal. The I-Wheel™ process confirmed that the organization’s plans were likely to succeed and would provide critical benefits to all stakeholders. By itself, this confirmation gave senior leaders confidence to move ahead quickly. In addition, the company’s CEO noted that the exercise caused a “cultural shift” inside the organization, with both managers and rank-and-file employees thinking far more carefully about the full range of implications associated with everyday operations. Finally, the exercise enabled key stakeholders in the organization to buy into the company’s long-term plan, making implementation of near-term strategies and action steps far easier.