Guiding Strategic Growth at Castrol: A Case Study

By Michael Lippitz

May 19, 2012 •

Castrol is the world’s leading specialist provider of lubricant solutions for virtually all domestic, commercial and industrial applications. With operations and R&D laboratories in over 75 countries, Castrol designs and produces automotive, motorcycle, agricultural, industrial and marine engineering lubricants, such as manual and automatic transmission fluids, chain lubricants, waxes, coolants, suspension fluids, brake fluids, greases, cleaners and maintenance products.

The Challenge

A company long committed to staying far ahead of the technology curve, Castrol and its leadership team recognized a convergence of game-changing trends in areas such as IT, communications, biotechnology, personal mobility and nanotechnology that will drive fundamental change across the many industries and businesses the company serves. In response, Castrol’s executive team began developing a long-term business strategy and transformational roadmap called Castrol 2020. In its effort to gain a comprehensive understanding of the many market trends and emerging technologies affecting the industries it serves, Castrol recognized the critical importance of engaging both internal resources and external expertise to identify and strengthen the company’s leadership, innovation and investment roadmap for the next decade.

We were looking for a strategic partner that could help us best understand what the future will look like for our business and our customers, said Polly Flinn, vice president of marketing for Castrol. From new products to emerging technologies, we needed to examine marketplace trends, transformations and disruptions and carefully analyze their impact on the market and our business.

Castrol engaged Clareo in order to gain a comprehensive perspective on the evolving marketplace, industry changes, customer challenges and technology innovations, as well as to develop tools for assessing and mapping business opportunities. We selected Clareo because of the company’s capacity for bringing together unique, innovative and expert perspectives and converting that knowledge into smart, effective tools for assessing and selecting business opportunities, said Flinn.

Enabling Insight

The first phase in Clareo’s solution focused on gathering extensive marketplace, technology and industry insight in order to provide Castrol’s leadership team with the clarity needed to make strategic decisions around business planning, investment, innovation and growth. To this end, Clareo custom designed three of its Insight Programs, which are immersive, multi-day transformative processes that challenge a client’s conventional wisdom and deepen market understanding.

For each of Castrol’s Insight Programs, Clareo brought more than 20 leading external subject matter experts—including renowned academics and global economists, as well as business, industry and technology authorities—to join internal business teams in an immersive learning experience and participate in breakout sessions over the course of two and a half days. By the end of the Insight Programs, this multidisciplinary team of internal and external experts had achieved a profound level of business insight and clarity.

Synthesizing Knowledge and Ideation

After the Insight Programs, Clareo partnered with key leaders from the Castrol team to synthesize the information, gain insights, and identify the opportunities and critical building blocks for achieving long-term success in a changing marketplace. Over a period of 12 weeks, Clareo conducted a rigorous portfolio, product and risk assessment. The Clareo team worked with Castrol to analyze the company’s current course through the new knowledge filters created during the Insight Programs. Clareo developed a business-driven weighting and ranking system, allowing Castrol to combine data and market factors in order to determine the priority of opportunities and initiatives. The team worked to carefully prioritize newly identified territories of opportunity and create a strategic priority system that would give the business an informed, competitive and pioneering roadmap for Castrol 2020.

By the end of this knowledge synthesis and ideation process, Clareo and Castrol had built a transformative 2020 roadmap. Our approaches before and after the Insight Programs and ideation processes couldn’t have looked more different, said Flinn. Castrol’s path ahead was entirely deconstructed and restructured by Clareo’s process, putting the company in the more competitive, innovative and growth-oriented position we wanted to embrace.

Engaging the Organization

Another key role Clareo played in the development of the Castrol 2020 roadmap was engaging business leaders and critical stakeholders from across the organization in the development, planning and understanding of this critical business effort. Clareo worked with project teams and executive leadership to help ensure priorities were aligned to the new roadmap and served as an ongoing advisor, analyzing initiatives and helping to guide the organization toward the 2020 vision.

The Results

Castrol 2020 is now the company’s dynamic roadmap to the future. Clareo’s engagement, resources and guidance have given both the knowledge and strategy needed to move forward with clarity of purpose while embracing opportunities to innovate, grow and adapt, said Flinn. As we move forward, Clareo continues to be a strategic guide in our growth.

The result of the 2020 process was the creation of the Castrol InnoVentures Group, the business arm charged with the execution of the 2020 roadmap and portfolio. InnoVentures, a corporate venture fund, which Clareo helped design and launch, was established to invest in initiatives and companies shaping key Castrol industries.

Most recently Clareo was asked to help the company execute several of the Castrol 2020 strategic initiatives slated to begin in the months and years ahead. Clareo continues to partner with leadership and business teams as the company restructures operations and processes to embrace innovative approaches to its changing business.

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