June 29, 2017  /  Caleb E. White, Senior Consultant

The following blog is a thinkpiece in response to CFAR’s Strategic Planning versus Strategy Making Briefing Note. Our Briefing Notes are short summaries of linked themes that begin with our clients—practices we find that unlock client dilemmas, ideas that generate new thinking and behavior, notions that come to us prompted by reading the popular and professional press that we then apply in the service of helping clients. These write-ups represent a tradition of thinking in practice, hoping they can be little pearls of wisdom garnered from reflecting on our work. With over 240 currently on file, CFAR’s Briefing Notes stand to... read more »

May 9, 2016  /  Press Release



      PHILADELPHIA, PA (May 9, 2016)—CFAR, Inc.—a private management consulting firm with offices in Philadelphia and Boston—has been named one of the Best Management Consulting Firms of 2016 in the U.S. by Forbes. 


      The rankings were based on data from two surveys: (1) a colleague survey among partners and project managers from management consultancies and (2) a client survey among senior executives who had previously worked with management consultancies. CFAR was fortunate enough to rank in both surveys: with the distinction of having a “Disproportionately High Number of Client Recommendations” in the S... read more »

April 8, 2016  /  Larry Hirschhorn

In this post I explore the reasons why Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo!, Inc., has failed to revitalize the company. When she took office in 2012, third quarter revenue was $1.2 billion. Third quarter revenue in 2015 was also $1.2 billion. I point to several possible limitations of her leadership. First, while some journalists have suggested that she was too cautious and did not make a “big bet,” I argue that CEOs make big bets only when facing crises. Yahoo, paradoxically, did not face a crisis because it owned so many shares in Alibaba, the Chinese Amazon. When the latter went public, Yahoo made a windfall profit of $9.4 billion at a time when its annual operating income was only $200 million.


I suggest as well that Mayer tended to focus too much on orga... read more »

November 16, 2015
CFAR Principal Debbie Bing has been named as the firm’s next President. She will succeed Lynn Oppenheim—one of the firm’s original founders—in January 2016.  read more »
August 19, 2015  /  Barry Dornfeld

When the star British actor Benedict Cumberbatch, playing Hamlet on a London stage, recently broke out of character to turn to the audience and plead with them to stop videotaping him with the smartphones so many carry, a critical moment had been reached. The steadily increasing incursion of digital devices into our personal, public, and professional lives has been accelerating, and it is hard both to ignore this incursion and predict where it is going. Cumberbatch’s recognition of this boundary feels like an important wake up call.


Sociologist and Psychologist Sherry Turkle, a deep thinker on how technology impacts our lives, cited this incident in a talk she recently gave at a business conference I attended. She used this incident to launch a discussion on the... read more »

March 5, 2015  /  David W. Brown

As an African American who was born during the turbulent ‘60s, I’ve been working along with African American-led and focused organizations all my life. Whether it’s the church, schools or organizations fighting for civil rights, these institutions have had to navigate some of the toughest cultural challenges known in human history and – for the most part – have come through relatively intact.


While the successes have been epic – desegregation, equal rights and countless other victories – it’s the quiet failures that provide lessons that, unfortunately, many of these organizations choose to ignore, rather than using them to strengthen the way they pursue their work.


In Philadelphia, as an example, two o... read more »

February 16, 2015  /  Barry Dornfeld
Barry Dornfeld responds to a recent NPR interview with Facebook’s Global Director of Diversity, and describes how pausing to take stock can actually accelerate an organizational initiative such as diversity.  read more »
January 21, 2015  /  Nancy Drozdow
Nancy Drozdow reflects on "sticky baton syndrome" in family businesses. read more »
October 7, 2014  /  Mal O'Connor and Barry Dornfeld
Mal O'Connor and Barry Dornfeld comment on the NFL's “unignorable moment." read more »
August 15, 2014  /  Carey Gallagher

No one wants to think their workforce just doesn’t care. But what happens when it looks like that’s the case?


We’ve been working with an academic medical center for several years on their initiative to reduce readmissions, when patients come back to the hospital with the same ailment within 30 days of being discharged. This is not only a priority for providing excellent patient care, but also a financial imperative, as hospitals are now being penalized when these patients come back.


The initiative’s executive sponsors knew that patients often went to the ER within a few days after discharge if they were experiencing any kind of problem—because they just weren’t sure what to do. Research showed that having... read more »

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