Sherwin-Williams had four business units with four distinct customer bases: Paint Stores, Products, Automotive, and Industrial. Each had a stand-alone R&D function, resource autonomy, and no mandate to work together. They were so unique in the demands of their platforms that there had been little effort to collaborate and explore synergies. But, the SVP of Innovation saw an opportunity to bring them all together, in a combined effort to share and potentially discover untapped value within the organization.
They were agreeable to working together — that's not what made collaboration challenging. The difficulty was that little knowledge existed regarding trends across the different markets, the current innovation platforms, the customer accounts and their needs. Knowledge level-setting had to be thorough and occur quickly.
\ Our Approach
NewEdge conducted the foundational work to understand not only the subtleties of each portfolio and customer base, but also the industry dynamics and broader market conditions. We integrated the information into a digestible format, organized around the elements of Opportunity — customer Needs, potential Value, and industry Conditions. This provided the necessary level-setting.
From there, we moved into an unsiloed exploration of opportunity — Where are the larger opportunities across all the Needs, Value propositions, and Conditions? — and created an overarching landscape, illustrating potential projects across the entire coatings industry.
The next step was to look at each BU portfolio and map it onto the greater landscape. That's when the magic occurred! Overlap amongst the portfolios came to light through utilization of the newly created organizing structure — without having to discuss the similarities and differences of every project.
This proved to be an incredibly fast, agile, collaborative and effective process for building a cohesive corporate portfolio. Duplication in projects across silos was reduced through the creation of bigger, more robust and differentiated platforms.
The overarching opportunity landscape was presented to the CEO, who said it was the first time the entire portfolio had ever made sense.
As a final deliverable, we created a simple two-page document outlining key aspects of the landscape. It was deemed so concise and impactful that Sherwin printed 7000 copies that were distributed to everyone involved in innovation. The same strategy was shared with Wall Street shortly after, and set the ground work for an $11B acquisition.