Getting Started

Arete advisors use a range of analytical frameworks in engagements depending on the particular situation of client’s business. Some Chief Executive Officers may be primarily interested in having a senior and experienced sounding board to discuss specific current issues or problems. Others may seek a more complete analysis aimed at reaching the full future potential of their business. In those cases, three exercises come into play often during the early stages. Arete advisors collaborate with the Chief Executive Officer through these exercises, described in Dick Cross’s book, Just Run It!, to set the course for the remainder of the engagement.

Back of the Envelope

Back of the Envelope is a four-part framework for articulating and evaluating the strategic underpinnings of a business. It is done first for the business as it is, and then again for what it could be. The iterative process typically involves 3-6 discussions with fact-finding and simmering time in between.

Arte - Renewal Concept


Who are the customers ... and what do they care about most?


How well does the business address those concerns ... versus competitor alternatives?


What is the credibility of the business in addressing those needs ... to all potential customers?


What distinguishes the business as an unarguable first choice among customers ... for delivering on their needs?

The Life Cycle Imperative

Businesses are like living organisms. There is no stasis. Although often imperceptible, businesses are continuously improving, or they are declining. The most successful businesses do not accept the inevitability of their life-cycles. Rather, they extend their cycles through continuous tweaks and refreshments of their existing business models. But eventually tweaks and refreshments lose their punch. Great CEO’s then shift from thinking about tweaks and refreshments toward migrating the business into a new model at an earlier-stage position on a new life-cycle.
Together, we position the business on the Life Cycle to define the nature of the imperative ahead:


Sustainable emergence


Early acceleration


Growth versus direct competition


Protection of revenues and margins


Redefinition of the business model

Vision – Strategy – Execution

Building upon the Back of the Envelope and Renewal Curve findings, we focus on Vision – Strategy – Execution with the CEO to help him or her identify the mandates necessary for leadership and management to drive the business from where it is into what it could be. Articulating Vision – Strategy – Execution is another iterative experience. Getting it right, both logically and emotionally, is a critical underlayment for meaningful progress.


The compelling outcome that fuels organization-wide motivation to change.


The roster of adjustments required to achieve the Vision.


Commitment to the specific actions and results required to effect the Strategies.

Jumping Curves…Path to Renewal

The path to renewal is different from tweaking and refreshing on the Life Cycle curve. Renewal requires redefinition of at least one, and therefore usually more, of the dimension of the existing Back of The Envelope framework of the business ... Customers, Needs, Positioning or Competencies. Renewal is often undermined by daily pressures, legacy processes and by existing processes and systems. Renewal requires assiduous thinking and courage at the top about what could be, rather than what is. Arete is a potent and a dedicated confidante for a few select CEO’s in reigniting and in accelerating freshness, momentum, growth and relevance in their businesses through renewal.