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This article from Barry Horwitz explains why in-house resources should not be used to facilitate a business planning retreat.  After more than two years working remotely, hybrid, or cautiously in-person, some organizations are beginning to think about scheduling an offsite or “retreat.” And while many of these tend to take place in the fall, planning for them begins now, during the summer. These off-campus gatherings often bring together senior staff with the purpose of thinking strategically and developing ideas and…
Barry Horwitz shares a post on employee management and how to ensure you know what’s going on in the workspace. Maybe you’ve seen the news: Apparently, Vladimir Putin is being misled by his advisors who are afraid to tell him that his ill-conceived attack on Ukraine is not going well. While I shudder to think what decisions Putin might make if he knew the truth, this situation is not surprising, since the Russian President is notorious for literally killing the…
Barry Horwitz shares a post that explores the meaning of organizational structure, and why the right kind of strength is needed when developing strategies. 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 has….
Barry Horwitz examines the broad scope of the stakeholder moniker and offers direction on  how to identify and think about them. 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 needed to think beyond…
In this article, Barry Horwitz offers valuable insight into pricing.  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 long developed theories based on the assumption that we all act as rational beings (i.e.,…
Barry Horwitz explains how applying war games to business is a useful exercise and effective planning tool.  “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 technique many times, across a range of clients…
Barry Horwitz shares an article that extolls the benefits of reading and reading some more.  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 a healthy curiosity. As I wrote in an earlier newsletter,…
Barry Horwitz shares a few tips on how to improve communication between the front line and top executives when the organization is large, the problems are complex, and the stakeholders are diverse. 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….
  Barry Horwitz identifies why it is important to address the predisposition to the positive and how it often arrests the growth and improvement of the company.  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,…
  For everyone who has ever struggled with identifying a clear, concise, and compelling value proposition, Barry Horwitz shares an article that clarifies the issues and identifies the pitfalls.  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…
  Barry Horwitz shares an article with a few key pointers on communication best practices that gain better results from research. 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 clear perspective, you’ll want…
  While many struggle with switching the focus between work and home, Barry Horwitz has published a post that is the result of a family gathering inspiring how to avoid strategic planning mistakes.  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…