Organizations often get in the way
of their own success.
Over three decades of helping organizations solve complex business dilemmas, CFAR has developed a point of view on the typical obstacles to success in client organizations. Here is a sampling of our thinking, and some cases of how we help clients overcome these barriers to success:
Viewpoint
ISSUE:
STRATEGIC SONAR
Using hidden assumptions and assets to test strategy.
STRATEGIC SONAR
Using hidden assumptions and assets to test strategy.

Strategic disagreements often have, at their root, differences about assumptions for example, how fast the market will grow or whether a new technology will displace a current one. Today’s leaders need an internal ‘sonar’ that guides them to pay attention to assumptions that could be blocking strategy execution and, at the same time, be alert to the small pilots alive in an organization that can signal future opportunity. CFAR's tools give leaders the tools to detect both barriers and opportunities—and enable executive teams to have test or monitor assumptions where necessary while building on emerging opportunity.

FEATURED CASE STUDY
The Power of Small Leadership
In this article, the authors shift the focus away from heroic deeds to small, subtle leadership actions that can have big impact. Chapter published in The 2010 Pfeiffer Annual: Leadership Development. San Francisco: Pfeiffer, 2010, pp. 220-232. view case study »
ISSUE:
PROPULSION
Turning strategy into action quickly.
PROPULSION
Turning strategy into action quickly.

Businesses waste their energy, money and credibility when strategic ideas and direction stall. The opportunity costs are incalculable. Powerful aspirations aren’t acted on, great opportunities are missed, and competitive advantage is blunted—often fatally. CFAR has a proven a track record of helping leaders engage the full potential of your people to turn strategy into day-to-day behavior fast.

FEATURED CASE STUDY
Propulsion
A multi-billion dollar health system operating in multiple states was shifting its identity from an acute care hospital company to a fully integrated system to deliver population health management. view case study »
ISSUE:
REEFS + RIPTIDES
Surfacing hidden assumptions and interests to remove obstacles to performance.
REEFS + RIPTIDES
Surfacing hidden assumptions and interests to remove obstacles to performance.

Teams often get stuck in disagreements because they are not aware that their members hold different assumptions—whether about growth, performance, talent, customer interests or strategy. These tacit beliefs drive most decisions and behavior in an organization. The cost of hidden assumptions can be steep: loss of talent, paralyzing conflict, slumping revenues and more. CFAR understands how to surface and explore assumptions in a business without making it personal. We provide a structure and process for our clients to articulate assumptions, rigorously test them with each other and with the market ultimately helping leaders make more informed decisions that drive improved performance.

FEATURED CASE STUDY
Executive Retreats
Executive retreats must be carefully designed and linked to the particular organization and people. Through our experience, we have designed and monitored many such processes. CFAR has come to see certain principles that may aid others in developing a retreat for their organization that will deliver on the hopes and the objectives of participants. view case study »
ISSUE:
SUPERFLUIDITY
Engaging resistance to pick up speed.
SUPERFLUIDITY
Engaging resistance to pick up speed.

Every leader advancing change inside an organization faces resistance—to ideas, to new behaviors, and even to the fundamental premise underlying the change. Resistance is not necessarily an obstacle to change, but rather a fundamental part of the change process itself. Tapping into resistance inside organizations provides a vital source of intelligence. CFAR helps leaders listen in to resistance to understand the sore spots and then work with the most appropriate stakeholders to resolve them. In the process, leaders create the positive energy and engagement to speed needed change.

FEATURED CASE STUDY
Sweeping People into a Campaign for Strategic Change
The campaign approach to change mobilizes people around a strategic theme and builds on energy already in the system. A central challenge to sweeping people into a campaign is getting their attention amid a barrage of competing concerns. This briefing note looks at ways to bring people on board and reviews some of the tools that CFAR uses to do this. view case study »
ISSUE:
FUTURENAUTS
Preparing people to live in the future.
FUTURENAUTS
Preparing people to live in the future.

It's easy to say that the future will be different from the present. It’s a lot harder to prepare an organization and the people within it to live in that future. Whether you are preparing a next generation of leaders for succession or anticipating a radical shift in the industry, CFAR can support you in engaging the future while acting in the present.

FEATURED CASE STUDY
Futurenauts
A nationally renowned acute care hospital had a challenge that many healthcare institutions face today: how to ready their organization for a very different future climate while also succeeding in today’s reimbursement environment. view case study »
ISSUE:
EFFECTIVE SUCCESSION
Shaping organizations that last.
EFFECTIVE SUCCESSION
Shaping organizations that last.

Succession often has the individual leader as the center of gravity—and there may be a big difference between the outgoing leader and the next leader needed to address the organization’s future. Because there can be a tension between the two kinds of leadership profiles, success on frequently fails, often with damaging consequences to the organization. The event of succession can be the culmination of broadening and deepening leadership around strategy, decision-making, and change. However, CFAR’s approach test the assumptions about what a new leader needs to do, and what others see as their roles in an organization’s succession as it transitions to new leadership. CFAR helps organizations embrace their future, engage the next generation, and build in the structure to support succession while the organization moves forward.

FEATURED CASE STUDY
Shaping an Organization that Lasts
A successful, founder-led professional services company was expanding rapidly and struggling to respond to increasing demand for their unique offering. The company had experienced explosive growth over the last several years and needed a new organizational structure to support its current size and complexity. view case study »
ISSUE:
LEADING LEADERS
Aligning talent when every leader is a “volunteer”.
LEADING LEADERS
Aligning talent when every leader is a “volunteer”.

Successful companies in today's economy recognize that their workforce is a precious resource. Thinking about talent as "volunteers" can enable organizations to think creatively about how to get the most out of their people and improve performance. CFAR helps leaders align the "volunteer army" inside their organizations by translating operational and strategic priorities from ideas into specific behaviors and practices for daily work, and provides ways that help individuals to see how their unique efforts contribute to the organization's performance as a whole. In the end, work becomes productive, effective, meaningful—and profitable.

FEATURED CASE STUDY
Leading Leaders
Georgetown University’s Vice President of Research wanted to increase faculty research capabilities by building an applied research institute that would integrate research faculty with other faculty in a multi-disciplinary undertaking that would link large-scale modeling and use of big data to provide unique insights into topics like public health and food security. view case study »
ISSUE:
COALESCENCE
Surfacing differences to create common interests and the will to act.
COALESCENCE
Surfacing differences to create common interests and the will to act.

Differences in your organization can be a source of conflict and disruption, and leaders often worry that having direct conversations about them will damage relationships or unleash a set of dynamics that will be difficult to control. The result is an inability to act on a pressing business issue. But the very differences that can damage a business can also add exceptional value and create productive partnerships. CFAR helps clients leverage the positive energy of differences to resolve conflict, improve teamwork, access the best thinking available across multiple points of view, and take action that achieves sustainable business results.

FEATURED CASE STUDY
Coalescence
A major national medical association was struggling with tense working relationships between Board members and executive staff, including a new Chief Executive. view case study »