From our own world: The TBK Consult Synergy Conference in Istanbul

 In Industry News

Istanbul MoskeThis post is about the 5th TBK Consult semi-annual Synergy Conference, which took place in Istanbul, Turkey April 15-19, 2013.

TBK Consult is a network of senior executives from the software industry operating as management consultants/business developers who assist software-driven companies with top-line growth.

We call ourselves “software industry growth doctors.”

TBK consultants operate across 14 countries, and the semi-annual Synergy Conference is our opportunity to get together for a full week to review our business and determine our direction for the following 6 months. 

Sharpen the saw

Although we are all senior executives with many years of practical experience we still need to “sharpen the saw” at frequent intervals. Given the nature of the software-driven industries we need to continuously develop our skills and competencies on four main levels:

  • Macro-Economic and Industry trends: Which challenges do our clients face? Which new opportunities are emerging? New form factors (cloud, BYOD etc.) and other industry trends.
    CS in session S

    Carl Savage, UK

  • Consulting approaches: What new approaches do we need to master in order to deliver more value at a faster rate to our clients.
  • AIDA: How do we keep optimizing our own business being more effective in building Awareness, capturing Interest for what we do, converting Interest into Desire and taking specific Action?
  • Growth: How do we continue to grow as a company? We need more consultants and we need to grow the revenue per consultant (by increasing the value we provide).

The need for taking time out of our busy schedules to “sharpen the saw” is probably more critical for consultants than for more traditional businesses. As consultants, we must continuously be able to provide our clients value over and above what they can squeeze out of their own organizations and their private networks. We are well aware that clients only call in external consultants when much is at stake and when the internal resources are inadequate for finding the solutions required to tackle serious challenges or exploit massive opportunities.

Business Model Generation

The Synergy conference in Istanbul, Turkey was built around the Business Model Generation framework developed by Alexander Osterwalder.


The Business Model Generation format provides a brilliant framework for discussing business issues. Slicing our clients and our own business into 9 building blocks allows for a much more structured and focused approach.  Several TBK Consultants are already certified Business Model architects and more will take the Master Class offered by Osterwalder during 2013. However, it is one thing to read a book and take a two-day class; it is another thing to apply the concepts to real-life clients. Reality always exposes you to challenges not foreseen by the textbooks.

For those of us who had already applied the theory in live client situations, the five days was a welcome opportunity to discuss some of the challenges we had experienced. For those who are still facilitating their first Business Model Generation project, this was a great opportunity to get some lab experience before the ultimate test.

Building trust and culture

It is not impossible to build genuine trust and culture in a virtual organization. It is just so rewarding when you actually meet your associates face to face. It takes the professional relationships to a much higher level of mutual respect and understanding. Learning from one’s peers who are involved in business development projects all over the world is extremely rewarding.

Group 3 Cropped

From the left: Erdogan Lak, Carl Savage, Luc Van Becelaere, Fikret Idil, Emma Crabtree, Kai Lempke, Leon Rubinstein, Hans Peter Bech, Steen Helmer, Gianmaria Odello, Nicola Angelina, Jan de Blanck, Howard Tonge

Even though we are all seasoned senior executives with a fair amount of recognition and awards in our bags, we still strive to be the best. The competitive spirit thrives in a team where respect and independence is the foundation.

Getting the “Best Performing Partner Award” is an award that attracts deep respect. When you are no longer on a fixed salary and have to live from selling your services at a fee, you come to recognize and respect those who can do so again and again.

Hans Peter Bech (Group CEO) and Steen Helmer (best performing partner twice in a row)

Hans Peter Bech (Group CEO) and Steen Helmer (best performing partner twice in a row)

Steen Helmer, who has been with TBK Consult since December 2010, received the “Best Performing Partner” award for the second time. He also took the award at the Synergy conference in November 2012 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

Steen Helmer, who is an active member of the IAMCP network, has been the driving force in developing services related to the use of LinkedIn for businesses. These services will be offered by the TBK Consult network throughout 2013. Steen is also a certified ValuePerform consultant and a Business Model Generation Master.

New advisory board and executives

At the annual shareholders meeting, Hans Peter Bech was re-elected as CEO and chairman of the advisory board. Gianmaria Odello, who is a co-founder of TBK Consult, was re-elected to the advisory board, while Steen Helmer was elected as a new member of the advisory board.

Jan de Blanck was appointed Director of Partner of recruitment, stressing the importance the group attaches to growing the network.

TBK Academy®

The objective of TBK Consult is to assist software companies with local and global growth. The objectives of the TBK Academy® are to share approaches and experiences with various go-to-market strategies and frameworks and to give software executives an opportunity to build an international network of peers.

The Synergy Conference offered three full-day workshops.

Management Consulting Essentials

7 steps simpleThe objective of the workshop “Management Consulting Essentials” is to help current and potential TBK Partners deliver more value to carefully selected clients against an attractive payment. The workshop provides an opportunity to review and discuss the issues related to operating as management consultants.

“Management Consulting Essentials” primarily addresses issues related to management consulting delivered to small and medium-sized companies that need pragmatic assistance in growing their revenue and market share.  It also uses the Business Model Generation format to discuss and define “Management Consulting” and get a better understanding of what “Management Consulting” is and what it is not. Furthermore, the workshop reviews all the elements of the management consulting business model including service definitions, awareness building, lead generation and sales.

The workshop also reviewed the Lean Management Consulting Wheel, the AIDA process and the SPIN method.

The workshop is based on the book Management Consulting Essentials by TBK Consult CEO Hans Peter Bech.

Entering a Foreign Market

Entering a foreign market is a cocktail of immense opportunity and horrendous risk. However, no software company can survive being a local player only. Local players will sooner or later be out-competed by global players with much more muscle. The nature of the software-driven industry calls for global growth; thus, entering foreign markets is a requirement and not a choice.

The “Entering a Foreign Market” workshop reviewed the tools TBK Consult applies in helping clients decide when and how they can enter new markets rapidly and within a predictable budget. During the workshop, we looked at the preparation requirements and at those frameworks available to manage and control the process.

The workshop was facilitated by Gianmaria Odello from the TBK Consult Milan office.

Channel Development and Management

when to partnerUsing a channel of independent companies to resell, implement and/or service customers has a long tradition in the history of the software industry.

For some software companies the channel has been a major contributor to global success, but for most software companies making it work is a depressing and constant struggle.

The word “channel” is used in the software industry to describe independent companies that assume various roles and obligations in bringing a software product to the customers.  The definition is rather broad since the roles and obligations can vary substantially from “simple” reselling to system integration, solution development on top of the software, implementation in terms of consulting, project management, customization, training and support.

The Channel Development and Management workshop reviews the tools TBK Consult applies to assist software-driven companies to build and manage strong and productive channels.

The workshop was facilitated by Hans Peter Bech.

TBK Consult in Turkey

TurkeyThe Synergy was hosted by Erdogan Lak and Fikret Idil from TBK Consult in Istanbul. Gönül Kamali, Vice Chairman at YASAD was invited to give to give a keynote presentation about The Turkish Software Industry and the initiatives underway to support outbound and inbound internationalization.

Turkey has defined a 2023 vision for the nation. The vision will make Turkey one of the 10 largest economies in the world. The software industry is assigned a significant role in the strategy to achieve this position. Major government initiatives are underway to support the implementation of the strategy.

Synergy 2013-2

The next TBK Consult Synergy Conference will take place November 4-8, 2013 in Barcelona, Spain

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