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Case Studies: Team Facilitation

Client: VISA International

Client Situation.

In 1997 VISA, the credit card transaction processing company, was aggressively exploring new technologies and new avenues within its markets including smart cards, online banking, and electronic bill presentment. VISA convened a program under the direction of the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) known as VISA 21 to consider the strategy for VISA into the 21st-century, the role of new technologies, and the skills and opinions of the employees across the organization. As an advisor to VISA's electronic banking unit, VISA Interactive, Lighthouse Consulting was asked to represent VISA Interactive's perspective and position as VISA developed its strategy for the future.


Representing VISA Interactive on the VISA 21 project offered unique challenges, which included the following:

  • Managing the tension between old and new ways and opportunities
  • Representing the minority position in the conversation
  • Helping to evolve and shape VISA Interactive's strategy while arguing for its place - and perhaps leadership - in VISA's overall strategy
  • The dual challenge of convincing the "parent" company to back the future-oriented strategy of VISA Interactive, and assuring the "child" that it was welcome and wanted in the parent's business.
  • Finding a balance between being a representative of VISA Interactive, while seeking the best strategy for the VISA organization overall, while developing a partnership with the consulting group leading the project, yet maintaining Lighthouse's responsibility to provide what it felt was the best advice possible to its client.

Lighthouse Role.

Lighthouse demonstrated the skill and professionalism that it has consistently delivered to its clients in rising to the challenges. Key actions included:

  • Encouraging and supporting VISA Interactive in refining and redefining its own strategy, independent of but in order to contribute more effectively to VISA's strategic efforts.
  • Developing a pattern and a process for keeping VISA Interactive informed and engaged in the strategic progress of the parent company across the country.
  • Helping to ensure that the message, strategy and value of VISA Interactive was heard and valued by earning a respected role on the team for VISA Interactive and the right and respect to be heard.
  • Advocating and winning approval to refine the programs and process developed by BCG for the parent company as part of VISA 21 to fit the unique circumstances of VISA Interactive and thereby better represent VISA Interactive's viewpoint.
  • Beyond offering strategic and business insight, Lighthouse also remained keenly aware of the politics that overshadowed the entire VISA 21 process, and effectively managed these factors so they did not overshadow the key business considerations for the client.


As a result of Lighthouse's efforts in VISA 21, clear benefits emerged:

  • A more refined and appropriate strategy for VISA Interactive.
  • Clarity for the client on its parent company's strategy, thought process, and function that allowed VISA Interactive to more effectively manage its relationship with VISA.
  • A clear role and voice for VISA Interactive within VISA, even as differences of opinion remained.
  • Better positioning of VISA Interactive with customers and ultimately with a future acquirer as a direct result of its more focused business path.
  • A strong base of trust in Lighthouse as a facilitator and intermediary on the part of both VISA Interactive and VISA. Lighthouse filled this intermediary role for VISA Interactive and its acquirer Integrion many times following the completion of the VISA 21 project.

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