Articles: Strategy

The future of consulting

I’ve been thinking a lot about the future of consulting lately. This is a bit of an occupational hazard… I’ve been a consultant for almost 20 years, based in San Francisco, and I’ve run my own practice for eight years and counting. A long time ago I remember telling a colleague: “The consulting space is massive: multi-billions of dollars globally. Even if it were to shrink by 50%, there’d still be money on the table for those…

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Beyond average thinking

Data science is changing global and local business. One might think that immense data sets and expensive tools are required to make sense of this increasingly complex world, but that’s not true. Before we even look at data sets, we can all cultivate better data sense. To that end, I’d encourage us all to look at one common kind of data with suspicion: the average. We all use averages on daily basis— e.g., when we split a…

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What is marketing?

Marketing is one of those words that seems to have a different definition depending on who you ask. If you explore the huge volume of resources, history, and commentary out there regarding marketing, it quickly becomes obvious that these voices have little to do with each other. It’s hard to believe that they all describe aspects of the same general craft. I work with companies across a wide range of industries and levels of scale, so it…

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What is brand?

Brand is a top priority for many businesses, but it often lacks a clear definition, owner, or action plan. People frequently conflate the term “brand” with related concepts like vision, awareness, positioning, and design, and so it never really gets articulated, and therefore never really gels. I’ve been doing brand work for a long time, across a wide range of clients—from massive global conglomerates to edgy startups to small local businesses, and everything in between. Personally I’ve…

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It’s (not) complicated

We all understand simple mechanical systems like pulleys. Complex systems, like rain forests, however, work differently. They exhibit unique characteristics, including modularity, homeostasis, self-organization, resilience, emergence, non-linearity, inter-dependence with other complex systems, and collapse. In work and life, we encounter complex systems every day. They include: Human brains Human bodies Human relationships Organizational cultures Financial markets Digital media ecosystems Competitive business environments Global climate One sure-fire way to make big mistakes is to expect complex systems to behave like simple ones. You’ll…

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