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  • Writer's picturewilliam wright

Adaptomy DNA, White Paper Part 1, 20 years of innovation (long blog).

Updated: Jan 26, 2023

20 years of innovation

There’s a proverb that says, “if a thing is worth doing, it’s worth doing well”. There’s another phrase popularised by Jim Collins called a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG). The development of Adaptomy DNA fits both these descriptions. Developing systematic methodologies to support commercial strategy and operations, providing a framework for commercial capability building and capacity management, a systematic value management and growth methodology is not for the faint hearted.

Today Adaptomy DNA is a unique methodology for systematic commercial scale-up, growth, capability building and value management. It’s a methodology to help leaders and commercial teams know why, when, and how to take ideas to market, create customer value, 'win in-market', drive cash flow and build capital assets. It's based on 63 commercial disciplines supported by proven playbooks, diagnostics, templates, process maps, a range of proprietary tools. It’s used by experienced practitioners to deliver integrated growth roadmaps, future customer success, margin, and capital asset value.

Adaptomy DNA has taken over 20 years to develop. It is the history of three companies Brand Intellect, Aptimet and Adaptomy. I invented what is now Adaptomy Commercial DNA, founded and ran Brand Intellect, Aptimet and Adaptomy to develop and deploy the Commercial DNA methodology. The full methodology is now being brought to market with the support of some astonishingly talented advisors and innovative customers.

It’s been an astonishing journey!

This is part I of a two-part white paper explaining the history of Adaptomy Commercial DNA, (C-DNA) and what it is today.


Adaptomy C-DNA could not have been realised without the help of many people. Inspiring people who helped shape and support development of the methodology through the early years and deserve very special thanks include Andrew Seth. Andrew was for many years from 2002 a constant source of support and encouragement. His insight into marketing at scale proved to be invaluable, so too were his introductions to some of the best minds in marketing including Tim Ambler. He introduced me to Mark Sherrington, a charismatic and skilled marketing leader, who asked, on hearing about the quest to build the C-DNA methodology if I was trying to boil the ocean, then quickly told me that he loved Big Hairy Audacious Goals. In those early years I could not have imagined what he meant; I do now.

In 2013 Richard Nunn had the courage and conviction to use early versions of what is now Adaptomy C-DNA to implement a corporate wide ‘Marketing Way’ to align marketing strategy and operations. Martin White gave Adaptomy its first contract to use an early version of Adaptomy C-DNA to design a product management and ‘go to market’ strategy. Rupert Baines and Aileen Ryan provided Adaptomy with it’s first ‘deep tech’ opportunity in 2019 to assess market opportunity and design quantified value propositions. Thanks to Chris Ellis and Dominique Borie for giving Adaptomy the opportunity to use Adaptomy C-DNA for content marketing strategy and product procurement. Thanks to Keith Bibby for the opportunity to use Anatomy C-DNA for commercial strategy and operations, customer journey mapping, market opportunity analysis and marketing transformation. Thanks to Ken Stannard for reviewing the Growth Road-maps and to Bevan Duncan, Paul Davidson, James Bagan and Nick Eades who helped introduce Adaptomy C-DNA to the world of Venture Capital and Private Equity.

From 2003 to today a vast cast of advisors, associates, employees, academics, and partners have all provided support and encouragement along the way. Special thanks to Stan Maklan, Andrew May, Cameron MacQuarrie, Andrew Bourne, Simon Scullion, Karen Thomas-Bland, Ben Kettell, Matt Stroud, Noorie Sazen, Chris Weston, Adrian Wakefield, Matt Ballantine, Sarah Wicks, Nick Johnson, David White, Mark Peacock, Geraint Holliman, and more recently, Chelsea Wilkinson, Adam Votava and Simon Leadbetter, and of course to Craig Willis and the team at SkoreLabs for use of their process mapping tools.

Adaptomy and its sister company Brand Intellect have worked with many clients that have tried to do something different, and have helped to build the Adaptomy C-DNA model into what it is today, these include, but are not limited to:, Time Warner, SAB Miller, Unilever, Legal & General, MS Amlin, Orange Business Services, UltraSoC, Wincanton, Octopus Investments, PUMA Private Equity, Convertr, Smart Technologies, Veritas, Scorch, Queens Park Equity, Turtl, RWS and SERCO.

An introduction to Adaptomy DNA

Adaptomy Commercial DNA (C-DNA) is a methodology for systematic formulation and execution of commercial strategy, operations, performance management, capability building and capacity management. It is also a reference model for intellectual capital and intellectual asset management. It is a methodology designed to work alongside and in no way diminish the creative value of strategy, marketing, and sales.

C-DNA, is a proprietary methodology currently being deployed by Brand Intellect Limited (founded 2001) and Adaptomy Limited under the titles of, and known as, Adaptomy DNA, Unified Commercial Engine and Customer First Operating Model. It has been under development for the last 20 years through numerous commercial projects with large and small businesses, Private Equity and Venture Capital firms and academics.

The beginning

In the early days around February 2001-2002 Brand Intellect started to gather metrics and measures for marketing performance. This was well before the kinds of sophisticated data that’s available today, and well before marketing performance measurement became in any way professional. The premise was to:

  • Put the customer first.

  • Measure what mattered.

  • Develop integrated strategy and commercial operations, bringing strategy, marketing, and sales together.

  • Tie marketing performance metrics and measures to business management and financial performance metrics.

A pivotal ‘lunch meeting’ with Andrew Seth, (former CEO of Lever Brothers, now Unilever) in 2002 where he was presented with an early concept paper that ignited a 20-year journey to the current versions of Adaptomy C-DNA.

Initially, Brand Intellect collected operational marketing metrics and built score cards prioritising these metrics and measures to suit different commercial circumstances. Focus on the core metrics and measures stored in Brand Intellect’s Base Line 'Book of Numbers', quickly moved from marketing metrics and measures to commercial metrics and measures, (including strategy and sales), then on to measures of intellectual capital.

Early work supported by Andrew Seth quickly revealed that although valuable metrics and measures were available or could be sourced, their context and meaning was to a large extent lost because there were no clear processes or systematic approaches supporting them. It was also clear the marketing and the majority of commercial operations were at the time almost process free. There was no consistent way to approach strategy, marketing, and sales. If you were to ask a room full of strategists, marketers, or salespeople to ‘define what you do’, there would be as many different responses to that question as there were people in the room. Contrast that with almost any other discipline, (for example: accounting, law, information technology.) where you will find process, rigour, and systematic approaches.

Initial growth frameworks

In 2003 Aptimet was founded to work with Brand Intellect and operationalise the systematic approaches, processes, metrics, and measures developed by Brand Intellect. In 2011 Brand Intellect and Aptimet launched Integrated Growth Frameworks designed to de-risk growth strategy, inform strategy formulation, deliver operational improvement, and execute commercial strategy based on robust, integrate measures. Products included: rapid diagnostics, deep performance insight, benchmarking, work-style alignment, strategy, and growth alignment, KPI’s, best practice libraries. These early frameworks included the integration of collaboration, commercial process, and operating models.

Very early construction of what was to become C-DNA included development of ‘Collective Competency’ frameworks, developed to drive development of intellectual capital and build new competencies for collaborative client side and consulting execution. These early frameworks now seem naïve but began the process of filtering and organising commercial processes, operating models, and intellectual capital.

In 2010 Aptimet launched a series of rapid diagnostic and deep dive analysis tools focused on integrated measurement, analysis and performance improvement in key disciplines including: knowledge management, innovation, human capital management, brand building, product and service design, demand management and customer relationship management, strategy, culture, relationship management, organisation, process information and technology management. They provided perspectives on leadership, planning and renewal, implementation, efficiency and effectiveness, empowerment, visualisation, agility, and organisational management. These early diagnostics laid the foundation for today’s far more sophisticated C-DNA disciplines, capability, capacity, intellectual capital diagnostics which have been embedded in today’s C-DNA.

A new mission

Brand Intellect and Aptimet established one of the main driving principles of C-DNA; to find new competitive advantage from robust, integrated strategy. They laid the foundations to provide answers and solutions to a key strategic question:

“How many companies have truly integrated, robust corporate strategy and clear measures of success that balance capital allocation and risk across a range of key strategic processes?”

From 2011 the mission could realise more adaptive, balanced outcomes:

  • To ensure corporate strategy translates into effective action companies need to forge much stronger links between corporate strategy and other key processes.

  • To manage the allocation of capital expenditure and strategic risk new insight needs to be found to strike the right balance between exploitation of external opportunities, mitigation of risk and company capability, capacity, and competence.

Quite simply great companies were and are good at this, others are not, but all could improve substantially. And it seems one of the persistent strategic issues then, and now, affecting long term growth remains the ability to build robust, integrated, measurable strategy. Focus from 2011 began to develop around three key benefits.

  1. Imagine the benefits of being able accurately and consistently to measure performance of key strategic processes: innovation, knowledge management, human capital, brand building, product & service design and delivery, demand management and customer management – arguably right now (2011) nobody is even trying to do this properly.

  2. What if structured insight into different facets of these processes: strategy, culture, relationships, organisation, process, information, and technology could be used to make more informed strategic decision and build intellectual capital?

  3. What kind of competitive advantage could emerge from being able to effectively balance capital allocation and risk amongst such processes to meet external challenges?

Discover, lead, act, improve

In July 2013 Aptimet was dissolved and Brand Intellect acquired all Aptimet intellectual capital. From July 2013 Brand intellect established a new, far more pragmatic approach focused on building strategy, marketing, and commercial capability within a clear planning cycle: Discover, Lead, Act and Improve.

Throughout 2013 and 2014 Brand Intellect continued to develop new models and integrating existing Brand Intellect and Aptimet assets and insight to build new strategic assets for key customers and complete another phase of C-DNA development including commercial operating models, workflows, ‘Marketing Ways’, and mapping of key commercial disciplines and processes within the planning cycle: Discover, Lead, Act and Improve. A new four stage framework for innovation, strategy and marketing was developed with 24 disciplines.

For the first time key inputs, outputs and primary workflows were mapped between discipline groups:

Throughout 2013 to 2016, Brand Intellect continued to develop C-DNA, and in 2016 Adaptomy was founded to commercialise the Brand Intellect C-DNA methodology. In 2016 customer journeys, value propositions, offer portfolio management, product, service, and solutions management, ‘Go to market’ strategy, pricing, experiences, touchpoints, account management and channel management, fulfilment, and risk management were integrated along with management psychometrics to deliver Commercial and Customer intimacy strategies.

This and other developments since the foundation of Brand Intellect represented a significant, knowledge base and what was becoming an embryonic framework for today’s C-DNA methodologies, tools, and approaches.

Where we've come from and where we are today

(To be continued in part II - what Adaptomy C-DNA is today)

Adaptomy C-DNA has continued to evolve since 2016 to the present day through a range of customer projects and bench research. It is now a fully-fledged methodology for systematic value management and growth. Adaptomy C-DNA is a unique methodology for systematic commercial scale-up, growth, capability building and value management.

It's based on 63 commercial disciplines supported by playbooks for commercial due diligence, fast track strategy, market fit, GTM and scale-up, commercial change and transformation.

Just some of the disciplines include customer journey mapping, market opportunity assessment, quantified value proposition, offer, product and service management, campaign, content sales and account management, fulfilment, performance improvement, capability building transformation and renewal of commercial strategy and operations, capability building and key capital asset management.

It includes proven diagnostics, templates, process maps, workflows, a range of proprietary tools and support from experienced practitioners. It's used to deliver integrated growth roadmaps, future customer success, margin, and asset value.

Part II of this white paper will cover what Adaptomy C-DNA is now, how it works and the benefits it delivers to leaders, practitioners, businesses, and their customers.

If you'd like to know more just get in touch, Adaptomy DNA will be rolling out with key customers throughout 2023. We will be running workshops and other events to help spread the word about Adaptomy DNA as a systematic underpinning for any commercial strategy, offer, product and service development, commercial capability programmes, GTM planning, fund raising, Commercial Due Diligence and for those that simply want to improve a specific discipline.

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