Development of the Business Development concept – 15 years of experience in reflection
The Business Development concept has changed a lot in practice. Below we reflect on the more than 15 years of experience that forms the basis for EIBE CONSULTING’s perspective and execution of the discipline.
What is the Business Development concept, really?
We have a clear definition and approach to Business Development , which is not taken out of thin air but based on dialogues that began with e.g. Roche , Nokia , NovoZymes , Biocon and Skype back in the 00s. We are constantly learning new things about nuances and approaches that facilitate more effective business development. But the structure, processes and tasks, as well as the type of people best suited, remain largely intact.
CONFUSION VS STRUCTURE
In the 00s there was great confusion – somewhat greater than now anyway. There was a big difference between what was called business development and business developer and what were actually unique business development activities. At one end of the spectrum was a business developer, just the new employee you didn’t have a job title for. This was also true in large reputable American tech companies.
At the other end, business development was a well-organized activity that drove the company’s non-strategic growth opportunities through planning and implementation. The latter were typically biotech or pharma companies with a pipeline with many growth opportunities. The competitive dynamics in the industries means that there is extra pressure to get products and services to market as quickly as possible. Pay attention to ‘possible’, which means that it is a matter of a speed/quality ratio and not just thoughtlessly whipping up a new service or product on the market. There can actually be money in thinking the right way.
In between, we found ‘business developers’ who were actually salespeople, key account managers, IT programmers, corporate finance, managers for offshoring, etc. Business development obviously sounded so cool that well-known functions and activities were rebranded – perhaps to cover up what they actually were? The important thing, however, is that the companies simultaneously lose the opportunity to understand and work systematically with the business development function and its critical tasks.
STRATEGY, BUSINESS, PRODUCT/SERVICE & OPTIMIZATION
In Hans Eibe’s work with biotech companies in the early 00s, he continuously solved tasks that were not strategic or could be handled by the line functions or general optimization. These tasks were also not described in the many books and research in the strategy and product development literature. The curiosity to find the particular structures, processes, tasks and people that were best practice started an exciting journey that we are still excited about.
It was Hans Eibe’s experience with practical biotech and strategic organizational design that captured and structured the work with growth opportunities that were not strategic but also not an optimization exercise. See e.g. our STRATfinder™ tool.
SOMETHING NEW, SOMETHING OLD…
One of the recurring traps in the pressured day-to-day operations is that you often have to embellish development with “that it is strategic” in order to get on the agenda. This management error gives rise to the fact that the employees also do not get the right understanding of what type of growth opportunity they offer or receive from the management.
For the individual company, there will typically be activities that are business development without being named as such. Conversely, there are often many activities that are called business development without being so. So it is not easy to build and manage that activity. There is therefore potential in our companies to be able to map and work more effectively with business development.
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