Simon Everett, Ltd.

Simon Everett is an analytic design firm. We structure and implement analytic engagements to help government agencies, businesses, and non-profits solve problems, large and small. Whether our clients seek to create capabilities, improve processes, or inform decisions, we offer the proven ability to address their needs. Our consultative approach blends analytic agility with interdisciplinary expertise to produce functionally and aesthetically impactful results. We are successful when our clients tell us they can achieve better outcomes.

Filtering by Tag: strategy

Attack of the (business challenge) clones

Over the last three years, we’ve provided strategic planning services to over 45 businesses in the defense supply chain, helping them decrease their reliance on federal monies and improving their medium- and long-term resilience. Despite working with an extremely diverse range of companies (including manufacturers, IT firms, and process consultancies), we’ve noticed a number of shared challenges. Leadership in small to medium-sized businesses, regardless of location or industry, may well relate to these: 

Common differentiators

Saying that you care about your customers is not unique, it’s a given. In order to truly differentiate your company, you have to identify the elements of your value proposition that are actually different. For teams seeking to make “customer care” a corporate strength, explore ways to do this through your service or product delivery — not through communications that have minimal impact at best, and ring hollow at worst. 

On the inside looking in

Regardless of what industry you operate in, you (and your team) don’t lack for expertise in your sector. You know your market, your supply chain, and your customer’s pain points. So how can an external team help you? By helping you tackle knotty strategic problems in an objective manner, properly informed by your domain expertise. The outside perspective can help to validate or challenge prevailing views, make the case for hard decisions, explore alternative approaches, or uncover assumptions that you didn’t even know you had.

No why = no what

Most professionals can say “what” they do, even if the explanation is too complicated for the layperson. But when asked “why” they do what they do, many struggle. Being unable to answer that question has knock-on effects; when you can’t articulate your “why,” how can the same be expected of your staff and employees? Leaving this question blank also often makes branding and marketing difficult or uninspired. 

These are problems that some business owners may see as inconsequential; “we may have the same marketing as our competitors, and as a company we haven’t internalized our ‘why,’ but we deliver on our work.” While ignoring these types of issues isn’t harmful in the short-term, businesses will find it difficult to grow at scale without addressing them. Our clients are proof positive that honest, straightforward strategic planning can set a company on a better path towards predictable and sustainable growth. 

Channeling our efforts

We’re often asked what “analytic design” is. Simply put, it’s the combined application of analytic skills, tailored methodologies, and thoughtful design – both in terms of a project’s structure and its outputs. We’re pretty agnostic about the subject matter of our projects, as long as our team — including our network of consultants — has the necessary expertise to address the issue at hand. This allows us to tackle a wide range of challenges that have one aspect in common: they require us to assess, distill, and interpret information, and produce insights to help clients make informed decisions and improve outcomes. That said, it’s always fun when we’re given the chance to go back to our roots – Middle East affairs and the Arabic language – and apply our skills and knowledge in new and creative ways. Case in point: our recently completed 10-month effort supporting the Broadcasting Board of Governors.

The Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) is an independent U.S. federal agency whose mission is to "inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy.” BBG oversees multiple media outlets that combine to attract more than 226 million audience members each week. Even if you haven’t heard of BBG, you know their networks — including Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Our effort supported the BBG’s Middle East Broadcasting Networks (MBN). On behalf of MBN, we assessed the online Arabic-language content of nearly 600 news programs across 30 television channels to characterize their approach to topics relevant to BBG’s mission. By analyzing the subject matter, discourse, format, setting, objectivity, and production quality of individual episodes, we identified trends and gaps that informed MBN’s continued efforts to “expand the spectrum of ideas, opinions, and perspectives available in the region’s media.”

This project enabled us to use our foreign language expertise not for translation purposes, but to assess discussion of political, social, religious, and security issues. We created a custom framework for comparing media content and production across a large set of channels, programs, and episodes. And we provided MBN with concise findings and recommendations that can advance its mission. All in all, we enjoyed the opportunity to support a client that truly makes a difference on the global stage.   

Taking a dose of our own medicine

Barbers with bad haircuts... graphic designers with hideous business cards... circus clowns who cry themselves to sleep. Business consultants who haven’t written a blog post in nine months and whose Twitter account looks a few birds short. 

Over the past year we’ve worked with our outstanding partners at kglobal to help defense companies diversify into the commercial sector. A key component of our value proposition is that of offering external, objective expertise and facilitation to help clients who find themselves amidst the swirling stress of change. The precise nature of each engagement depends upon each company’s specific needs, but tends to involve issues related to strategic planning, business processes, and sales & marketing activities. Inevitably, the latter category touches upon the importance of messaging and branding, to include social media activity. 

When companies appear to have initiated social media accounts or blogs without levying an adequate level of upkeep, one (or more) of several usual suspects tends to apply: the company lacks a clear purpose or strategy for its social media activity; the company’s social media “champion" has left the organization; or social media activity as a task loses a daily competition with other business priorities.

We’ll plead guilty to door number three. And throw in a side order of “analysis paralysis,” in which the desire to get something juuuuuust right can prevent you from getting something accomplished at all. So what would we tell one of our clients who made such an admission?

  1. It’s OK. Unless you expect your social media activity to serve as a direct source of business leads, you likely haven’t caused any damage that can’t be undone. At worst, this aspect of your business might appear a bit rudderless to external audiences, and/or you’re telegraphing that you have some bandwidth challenges.
  2. Fix it. Pick your metaphor: Jump in the pool; get back on the horse; start posting again. (OK, that last one was literal.)
  3. Stick to your strategy. In our case, this means worrying less about the particulars of any one post. We didn’t intend to reserve this space solely for mind-blowing, critical insights about international affairs, intelligence community challenges, or analytic methodologies. We simply want to share what we’re thinking. What we’re doing. What we read or heard and found interesting. So we’re going to analyze our thoughts a bit less, and shoot from the hip a bit more.

In addition to providing expertise and guidance, our diversification assistance serves as a forcing function for our clients. Everyone is a little more motivated to get something accomplished when they know someone is watching — hence this post. This is our internal client self telling our external consultant self that we get it and we’re ready to fix it.

But the barbers and the clowns are on their own.

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