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Think fresh.

Think clear.

Think deep.

Think confident.

Think Sagely.

We help leaders build a competitive advantage in building competitive advantage.

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"Sometimes it feels like our competitive edge is just something we're telling ourselves is true. 

Mid Market CEO

Many think of competitive differentiation with a kind of resignation: you either have a cost or quality advantage, or you don't.

We think they're wrong


Companies create value by solving problems faster than the competition.


Which turns on gaining fresh insight into reality.


And that's a learnable skill.

Winning teams are distinguished not by advantages they've inherited, but their ability to create new ones.

To sift through ideas, whether torn from the pages of the latest bestseller or a hand raised on the front line, and turn them into testable action programs.

That's where Sagely comes in.


Founded by seasoned strategists, managers and social scientists, we help leaders systematically develop their ability to develop an edge by:

  • instilling proven principles of learning and leadership

  • crafting coherent strategies for prioritizing good ideas and killing bad ones,

  • tailoring proven solutions to organizational needs, and

  • architecting execution plans that generate data.

Insight isn't just an occasional bolt of lightning to hope for. It can be produced methodically and predictably.

Then, it's lightning in a bottle.


How distrust of buzzwords got us here.

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Like our pragmatic clients, we aren't great fans of buzzwords. 


By the time many become popular, the phenomena they're describing are often in decline. Think "Quiet Quitting,"  the "New Normal," and countless others.


Few terms have seemed more buzzy in recent years than employee engagement.

For many, it conjures images of team-building off sites whose output is quickly forgotten, or junior employees telling seasoned managers how their career is going to unfold.

We've come believe it could be the single most important tool in the management toolkit.

Productivity is driven by effort. Effort is driven by engagement. Engagement is driven by... well, many things.

But above all, we've discovered through broad experience, a specific, consistent brand of leadership.

We've seen this work miracles in team implementations, where as little as another 15 minutes a day per FTE can yield market-beating productivity dividends.

How critical do we believe this to be?


Well, we've written a book about it.

In fact, it's why we founded Sagely.

Our view starts with a clear-eyed appreciation of one of the longest-running,  poorly understood and troubling of business realities: our seven-decade decline in productivity growth.

Economists continue to analyze and offer policy solutions  (like innovation incentives) to how declining output per hour worked can be reversed. 


This isn't much help to frontline managers

A UK study has found the average employee is fully productive less than three hours a day.

This is what leaders are really wrestling with.

It's also where engagement comes in—or more specifically, productive engagement.

This is more than a nice idea about happier workers: it's a tangible driver of a tangible output.

As with most efforts, chances of success rise dramatically when goals are well-defined and tracked.

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"Once we figured what productivity actually meant for us,  we began to get engagement, too." 

Fortune 500 SVP

Get competitive counterintuitive intelligence.

Many newsletters are great. Not ours.


The world is awash in quality thought leadership delivered into your email each week.

We do things a bit differently.

The Counterintuitive Leader is our occasional series featuring insights that power leaders' thinking no matter the size or focus of their team.

Subscribe below to be notified when we publish a new one.

We hope you'll agree, when you publish occasionally, each publication is an occasion.


(Just don't call it a newsletter.)

Counterintuitive Leader #1 : Counter Your Intuition

Counterintuitive Leader #2 : Why is finding our WHY so hard?

Counterintuitive Leader #3 : How does WHY really work?

Counterintuitive Leader #4: How do we actually find our WHY?



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Intrigued by a bold new business concept?
Start with these Three Questions.

There's no better way to explain how Sagely works with leaders than by example.


Many leaders are overly sceptical of new business concepts, writing off unfamiliar practices with great value potential as fads. 

Others are not sceptical enough.

Fit is everything.  Trendy practices are not inherently "right" or "wrong."  They are right or wrong for you.

That's why we encourage clients to start with three questions:

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1. How do they know?

Unlike engineering or medicine, no formal qualification is required to write a business book or to position oneself as an expert.

Is the source of the idea credible?  Is their advice grounded in real experience or evidence? Or is it just an appealing idea?

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2. Is this relevant to me?

Just because something works for Apple or another admired company doesn't mean it will work everywhere.

Many concepts simply don't scale. They are developed for if not by big brands, whose challenges and resources are often very different from mid market companies.


If there isn't at least one case study that sounds like relatable, stop to consider whether you have the prerequisites for success.

3. How can we adapt it?

Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Just because four steps out of a six-step program are not workable for you—perhaps because they relate to a consumer business and yours is B2B—doesn't mean there isn't value in the other two, or a way to modify the whole to meet your needs.

Think hard about exactly how improving your customers' experience, for example, might drop to the bottom line—or where you might simply be throwing money away, in a purely price-driven market, for example.

Often a program or paradigm that doesn't fit well can inspire your team to innovate in other ways.  

So. Those are the Three Questions we use to start testing new business concepts. 

Not rocket science.


But easier asked than answered.

If you'd like help working with them, or just have a no-obligation chat about your needs, drop us a line

About Sagely.

Based in Sun Valley and serving clients across North America, Sagely is the vision of two ex-BCG consultants with social science PhDs and decades of experience as executives, entrepreneurs, and advisors. (Learn more about them here and here.)

But don't let that put you off.  Our superpower is questioning expertise and tailoring it to fit .

Our first book about a fresh approach to business purpose is set to drop in early 2024, along with a tie-in TEDx.

Contact us for a no-obligation consultation and keynote speaking information.  

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