For-profit companies place a great deal of weight on financial measures when evaluating their own performance (revenue, profits, etc.). That’s logical. Their customers pay for their products and services and so financials are a pretty fair measure of their success (or lack thereof).It doesn’t work the same way with nonprofits. Yes, revenues are important, primarily as…

One of the phrases I frequently hear — often attributed to management guru Peter Drucker — is that “culture eats strategy for lunch.” Many times, what’s being suggested is that strategy is, therefore, irrelevant. Naturally, as a strategist, I disagree! That said, it’s no accident that this quote has survived for as long as it…

You’ve probably heard the term “stakeholder analysis.” It’s a tool that is traditionally used for project management, often with an internally focused perspective. But the concept is also relevant for strategic planning work, factoring in external stakeholders as well. So… What is a stakeholder? A number of years ago, companies began to realize that they…

Pricing. It’s one of the most important elements of any business value proposition. And yet, it’s a topic that many struggle with. That’s because setting the right price is about much more than simply setting price higher than costs or mimicking the actions of competitors. Some things to consider… Pricing sends signals. While economists have…

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,…

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