Articles

Five Leadership Lessons from Herding Goats

By | August 15th, 2013|Leadership|

Last month, as part of the Shapiro Family fellowship, I spent a day learning about goat herding. Goats were first domesticated over 10,000 years ago in either Turkey or Iran, making them one of the oldest domesticated animals in the world. They've been found in the foothills outside Jerusalem, where our group learned about herding, for thousands of years. Many early biblical figures herded sheep and goats, and they were common sacrifices in the ancient [...]

North Bridge Venture Partners and the Future of Cloud Computing

By | July 15th, 2013|Client Work|

Last month, North Bridge Venture Partners and GigaOm Research released their third annual Future of Cloud Computing study, exploring how business leaders are adapting the cloud into their organizations and the changes they expect to see in the coming years.   With more data than ever before, North Bridge needed to tell a new story that would help them demonstrate their expertise around cloud computing and the unique value brought by their fund. We worked with [...]

Don’t Be Afraid to Say No

By | May 9th, 2013|Leadership|

My graphic designer just told me he wouldn't make a change I requested, and it's why I think he does such a great job.  The change was a bad idea, but I didn't know enough about printing and design to have caught it.  Of course, he didn't just refuse the request, he explained his reasoning, understood the root cause of my request, and explained an alternative way to solve my problem without creating a new [...]

It’s Not What’s In Your Toolbox, It’s What You Build With It

By | May 1st, 2013|Practices|

Imagine you're doing a renovation on your house and you meet with contractor to see if he's the right person for the job.  He shows off his toolbox - that he has wrenches, hammers, saws, pliers, and a full set of ratchets.  He tells you that he knows how to use every tool in that box.  Do you think you'd give him the business?  Of course not - you don't care about his toolbox.  In [...]

If Don Draper Can Sell Anything, Why Can’t He Sell Himself?

By | April 10th, 2013|Relationships|

I’m catching up on Mad Men, AMC’s period piece about advertising executives in the 1960s.  As I round the midpoint of season 5, I can’t help but notice that somehow, despite Don Draper’s brilliance as an advertiser, Sterling Cooper Draper Price is perpetually struggling to find clients.  Is this some sort of leap of faith the writers, who are otherwise so diligent, have added for dramatic effect?  Are we really supposed to believe that they [...]

Moving the Ball Down the Field: A Case Study in Turnarounds

By | February 25th, 2013|Leadership|

I once worked with a hotel that was ranked at the bottom of their management company on nearly ever metric – profitability, customer satisfaction, employee engagement.  When a new general manager, a former college football star, took over the property, he probably felt like he was in a classic Bad News Bears situation.  His rag-tag team had sub-par equipment, including an elevator that constantly broke.  No matter how hard they tried, they felt like they [...]

Management Without Measurement Is Stupid, Measurement Without Management Is Worse

By | February 4th, 2013|Leadership|

Last week, Bill Gates published his annual letter, along with an editorial in the Wall Street Journal (link). In it, he discussed the way his philanthropic efforts have applied measurement to improve their effectiveness. In doing so, he brought one of the most important management innovations of the twentieth century to bear on the problem of solving human suffering. But measurement alone isn’t going to solve the world’s problems, and it won’t solve your organization’s either. [...]

Ghosts of Presentations Past

By | December 20th, 2012|Presentations|

Over at Duarte, they dug up some business presentations from decades past, long before the age of PowerPoint: Vintage Slides from GE from Duarte, Inc. Anyone who has likes to create superdecks would be terrified of  their first takeaway (I'm looking at you, market research agencies): Slides were treated like they were valuable because they were expensive. In the 1950’s each element on the slide was crafted by hand, using an array of papers and tapes [...]

The Freakonomists Take on Consulting (or How to Explain Consulting To Your Mom)

By | December 20th, 2012|Consulting|

The authors of Freakonomics have a new podcast that explores the management consulting industry.  If you've ever wondered why clients hire consultants, why consultants hire completely inexperienced MBAs, or what some high profile experts about the industry thing, this is a great place to start.  It's also a great introduction for people who aren't management consultants, which means you can send it to your parents to explain what you do. Of course, Freakonomist Steve Levitt [...]

Four Lessons From Groupon

By | December 3rd, 2012|Business News|

Last week, Groupon CEO Andrew Mason narrowly kept his job, thanks in part to an equity structure that gives his shares ten times the voting power as other board members.  Groupon stock has lost over 80% of its value since the company's post-IPO high just over a year ago, and the business has been rocked by accounting issues, increased competition, and fatigue from both consumers and business partners.  Looking back on the past year, what [...]