Consulting Expertise

Sharpen Strategy

Gaining fresh insights about your business triggers strategic clarity. We understand how leaders work through challenges to collaborate, innovate, and sustain important strategies. We expand strategic capacity and development by employing targeted research, visualization, scenarios, system thinking and mapping. 

For some clients, this takes a path of a thorough strategic plan. In communities or regions seeking solutions for deep-seated social problems we will work on long-term collective impact plans. For private businesses we conduct business modeling or retreats to fine-tune existing business models. Often, we lead annual strategy or impact assessments.  Regardless of the scale of the challenge, we customize our strategic processes to meet the needs of individual clients. We are committed to achieving breakthroughs.

The Strategic Process 

Clarify the Big Picture: Early phases of any strategic process involve an assessment of the history, assets, culture and current business dynamics. We map the key variables in your operations and identify the health of the current business. Using targeted research and surveys, we help clarify the changing customer experience and unique unfilled needs. We employ imaginative scenario thinking sessions to tease out different futures and their implications for your business. 

Sharpen the Strategy: Synthesizing the emerging picture, we generate a shift in thinking that leads to a new consensus on issues and openings. We examine the business model and differentiating factors that support an organization's competitive advantage. We help the group challenge current assumptions and identify the critical advantages upon which it shapes its future growth. Working with an internal strategic planning team, we frame the organization's strategic direction, four potential scenarios, and bold stretch goals. 

For start-ups or small firms hitting market turbulence, we start with these objectives:

  • Refine the business model to adapt to the disruptive forces
  • Chart the new future vision and create strategic clarity about advantage
  • Uncover hidden innovation capabilities in the firm
  • Clarify the paths to increased profit and impact
  • Get leaders on the same page using the same change messages.

Activate the Strategic Roadmap: This phase ensures long-term sustainability of the process and strategies and the adaptability of the enterprise. We identify possible partners and revenue sources, develop work plans with defined responsibilities and timelines, ensure accountability, and design impact metrics and progress Dashboards. We include strategy maps to illustrate the key links between new learning capabilities and the stated goals and outcomes.

We design highly participatory strategic experiences that incorporate visual storytelling and system mapping. This helps diverse groups think and work aloud effectively.

Click to download our pdf of the key questions for strategic planning

Top Picture Credit - Ken Hubbell's 2016 oil painting, Be Like Earth-Be Awesome

Our Friends Have Great Things to Say

"I haven't had the opportunity to tell you what a great contribution you are making to the Native Round Tables. You are in precisely the right place to help make a significant and lasting impact. It is obvious to me that your heart is with this effort. As usual, you have demonstrated a deep commitment and passion for this work. You are truly a valued member of the team and we appreciate your direct contributions and sage advice. The hand drawn version of the graphic has received some good feedback concerning its usefulness and your talents in producing it. I want you to know how much I appreciate the 2030 Vision graphic. I am using it to convey the broad systems approach and how we can model the behavior we want other foundations to follow in supporting various segments of the model."

Anthony L. Genia
Senior Program Officer (ret.) - Northwest Area Foundation

The Art of Change Applied

To sharpen strategic philanthropy at Health East Care Foundation, we helped leaders collaborate with over 20 community organizations on the East Side of St. Paul, Minnesota. Meeting monthly, these partners shaped a roadmap for improving the health and well-being for those most vulnerable. Work groups distilled key issues into an integrated set of action strategies, which we framed in visual murals and Dashboards to help the group focus new investments and to design new grassroots programs.

Top Picture Credit: Ken Hubbell:

Be Like Earth - Be Awesome

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Oil on Canvas (2016)