You’ve probably heard the term: “War games.” Long used in a military context to plan for future conflicts, when applied in a business setting, the phrase refers to a group exercise in which participants try to anticipate the possible moves of a competitor by pretending to “play for the other side.” I have used this…

I’ve been coaching nonprofits and entrepreneurs on how to develop a good elevator pitch for years. In fact, just last month I worked with six different French biotech startups, critiquing and helping them refine theirs. The term describes a hypothetical scenario in which you step into an elevator and find yourself face to face with…

Students in my strategy classes at Boston University often ask: What applicant characteristics matter most when applying for positions with strategy consulting firms? Of course, there are some obvious ones — sharp analytical skills and strong communication capabilities among them. But one that is often overlooked — and yet quite valuable — is possession of…

In her book, “Seeing Around Corners,” Rita McGrath notes that insights at the “edges” of an organization — close to the customers but far from the executive suite — can take a long time to reach the top of the food chain, if they get there at all. This can be problematic for a number…

Back in the early 90s, I joined the senior management team of a regional retail chain. I was new to the company and had moved there from out of town. The rest of the leadership team was made up of longstanding executives — people who had been there for years (in some cases, decades). Not…

In his book, Your Music and People, Derek Sivers addresses a problem faced by musicians: being asked to describe the kind of music they play. Saying “all kinds,” doesn’t help. That, according to Sivers, is like saying, “I speak all languages.” Nor does claiming to be unique, since all musicians rely on “notes, instruments, beats,…

If you hope to develop an effective strategy, it’s essential to have a clear understanding of the external forces that impact your organization. Much of this, of course, can be learned through the inevitable Google searches — finding news items in mainstream press, public reports from organizations, or trade journals. But to really gain a…

Many years ago, my mother initiated what has since become an annual family tradition. When my father was about to reach his 70th birthday (he’s closing in on 90 now!), she decided we should gather siblings and families, and all spend a weekend together to celebrate. But where? What kind of place? There are thousands…

When was the last time you paid for a “long distance call?” I know, I can’t remember either. Back when I was growing up, however, it was a big deal. My grandparents lived in Florida, and anytime they called, if my siblings and I were given the chance to say hello, my parents hovered nearby…

In September of 2006, Boeing executive Alan Mullaly was named the new CEO of Ford Motor Company. Not only did he have zero experience in the auto industry, he drove a Lexus (shocking!). The hiring decision was widely panned by industry experts and “regular people” alike. But Mullaly wasn’t fazed. When asked how he was…

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