Seeing an increasing client demand for  a tailored approach to strategy and innovation, Engage // Innovate is expanding its team to welcome new Partner Ian Pallister – who comes armed with more than two decades of experience helping top management across the globe on strategy, innovation, and transformation.


“It’s a great privilege to have Ian Pallister join the team, bringing on board deep expertise from his time at renowned strategy firms Strategos (with Gary Hamel) and Palladium,” says Engage // Innovate co-founder, Christian Rangen.

Residing in Munich, Ian Pallister has a 25-year track record of working with clients across a broad span of industries – from telecommunications, government, to energy and Fast Moving Consumer Goods – to solve their most complex strategy, process and people challenges.

“With Ian on the team, we will be able to serve a wider variety of clients and create even stronger impact.” added Rangen.

We sat down with Ian and a cup of coffee to understand what he brings to the table.


Tell us a little bit about your work in strategy and innovation


For the last 20 years I have been working in advisory roles, working within well known consulting firms to help clients with their strategic and innovation challenges. And I’ve been fortunate to work with some great people and clients around the world, from whom I have learnt a huge amount.

At Strategos, I worked with clients to formulate robust strategies that were based upon a solid ‘foundation’ of strategic insights. The resultant strategies were focused upon opportunities for growth that took account of what the company was uniquely good at, and where it could out-compete others; but also unique insights into current and potential customers and markets.

As well as strategy formulation we always emphasised the need to design strategies that could be implemented and that lead us to develop Migration Maps that clients could use to guide their strategy implementation.

Our work in innovation built upon a similar approach – we focused upon developing new innovative concepts but also emphasised in-market experimentation for ultimately greater launch success. So, in summary the work was about creative design and rigorous implementation.

At Palladium I was able to continue that work, helping clients with both their strategy and innovation challenges. Palladium is known as the world’s premier strategy execution firm and its work in that area is based upon the ground-breaking work of Prof Kaplan (from Harvard) and Dr Norton who developed the concepts of the Balanced Scorecard and the Strategy Map.

At Palladium, I helped to bring more of a front-end strategy formulation aspect to their work, whilst also developing a comprehensive approach to innovation which was called the Innovation Impact Framework. This framework was very comprehensive, starting with the strategic role of innovation through to the measurement and management of innovation.

Could you highlight a couple of the more interesting projects you’ve worked on?

Some of the most interesting projects are those where clients are facing big challenges that they have never faced before and you are able to come in and reassure them as to how they should move forward.

A recent strategy project saw me helping a company adjust to a completely new set of strategic challenges that had come about through a change in their Group strategy.

They no longer had a protected ‘internal provider’ status and had to go into the external market and compete for both external customers and internal business.

This was a huge disruption for them and required a completely different approach to strategy, one that actually required them to be more innovative in their thinking and a lot more focused upon extrernal trends and customer needs.

Helping them to make this very difficult strategic adjustment and develop a really strong strategy was very satisfying.

A recent innovation project saw me asked me help a leading Telco firm develop new innovation spaces in the areas of IoT and Big Data.

This was especially interesting due to the leading edge content matter of the project itself but it also reinforced my belief that disruptive innovation as well as more incremental innovations can be brought to market by the application of a thorough innovation process, that involves the right participants from both within and outside of the company.


‘Based on your experience, what do you think are the key building blocks for developing an innovation proficiency?  

The key here is to be able to develop an approach to innovation that fits well with the existing organisational culture. And this requires a bespoke approach.
Of course it is advisable to start with an existing proven approach and a set of tools, and the guidance of experienced practitioners. It is all about adopt, adapt, and embed.
This involves adopting a framework/system/process and through some practical application to real business challenges, adapting these processes/tools to your organisation. And finally you need to embed the approach by extending it to as many parts of the organisation, and as many people, as possible.


‘You’ve worked on projects where you helped teams look out and capitalize on long-term trends – what are the things you think we should look out for?’

Well, in terms of the process that you should adopt to help you look for the trends, I think it does help to take a broad view and by that I mean to look at trends in many different categories – technology, markets, customers, socio-economic etc.

The key thing here is not to focus upon individual trends but to be able to look for the intersection of trends and the reinforcing of separate trends that have the potential to drive discontinuous changes that can result in large scale market disruptions.
At present, we see a lot of disruption that is technology-led and this will continue but we also see a lot of disruptions to business that come from political and market changes, so being able to predict those changes, and perhaps model the impact of those changes through some form of scenario planning is a useful exercise.


What are some of the key issues you see that CEOs are struggling with currently?

Building upon the answer to the last question, at present I think the key issue CEOs are facing is the level of uncertainty and rapid change in the world and this has only been magnified by recent political changes i.e. Brexit, President Trump and his leaning towards trade tariffs etc. The world was complicated enough without these additional drivers of uncertainty.

So, I see CEOs struggling to develop long-term strategies that set out a vision and direction for their firm and stakeholders, but are also practical and implementable in more than just a short 3-6 month execution horizon.

Of course, the solution to this is to work on formulating longer term strategies that are based upon a robust and broad set of strategic insights – the Strategic Foundation – and consider different strategic options and scenarios as part of that formulation process.

And then to implement rigorously in a short to medium term time frame (12-24 months) using tried and tested management tools such as those I mentioned earlier, Strategy Maps, Scorecards etc. and build the management and reporting of strategic success into the culture of the organisation. Implementation then becomes more than just a reporting of numbers and allows for greater organisational agility to ‘course correct’ as necessary based upon changing conditions.


How do you see the intersection of strategy and innovation changing in the years to come?

I see the intersection of these two areas as being vitally important and strategy and innovation are becoming inextricably linked. And in many ways strategy formulation is all about innovation i.e. identifying new market spaces, developing new concepts, and bringing them to market; whilst also ensuring that existing product/services/business models remain relevant to changing customer preferences.

For example, The Innovation Impact Framework that I mentioned earlier was designed to ensure that all innovation activity was 100% aligned with the business strategy and that any outcomes from innovation efforts were completely aligned with the vision of the business. If there is any disconnect between the two, then innovation effort and budget is wasted.

Finally, let me say that what I love about Engage//Innovate is their focus on both strategy AND innovation. I think you are leading the way in helping clients to bring these two vital areas of management together and I look forward to working with the team in the future.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *