Strategic Decisions Group at a Glance

Uppers

  • "The culture and the company policy of retaining people for the long term."
  • "Challenging work, worthy colleagues, great culture."
  • "The problems that we solve."

Downers

  • "Hours, though entirely flexible, can be long."
  • "Tight deadlines."
  • "Overcoming 'not large or famous enough' bias on competitive bids."

The Buzz

  • "Academic."
  • "Interesting."
  • Limited brand recognition.

About Strategic Decisions Group

Headquartered just down the road from Stanford University, Strategic Decisions Group specializes in providing high-level decision making, risk management, and value-based leadership advice to its clients. Formed in 1981, the firm partners with boards of directors, heads of business units and senior managers in a variety of mostly capital-intensive industries via offices in North America, Europe, the Middle East and Asia. SDG consultants serve many of the world's largest research and development-intensive companies, life sciences companies, energy companies, technology and communication companies, and companies in manufacturing, consumer products, transportation, infrastructure development, private equity, and commodities. 

Divide and conquer

SDG co-founder Ronald Howard first developed the concept of "decision analysis" while teaching at Stanford University in 1964. Decision analysis is a way of dissecting complex business decisions in a formal manner, often using tools such as relevance diagrams and decision trees. Uncertainties are transformed into probability distributions. Decisions are made based on trade-offs among alternatives that deliver the highest value. The methodological foundation of decision analysis can still be found in the firm's methods, but the professional field has broadened considerably over the past 30 years into decision quality, which combines the analytical power of decision analysis with techniques to address decision biases and  organizational complexity (many decision makers, often in conflict). Decision analysis certainly had its critics, though, with the foremost attack probably being that humans don't actually think this way. But proponents argue that decision quality is simply a way of seeing all alternatives on a level playing field, allowing you to more easily make trade-offs that give all stakeholders the most of what they truly want.

Industrial evolution

SDG's specialty is serving industries that are on the cusp of-or often faced with-major game-changing market shifts that require "big bets ahead of the curve." The firm's practice areas hone in on a number of these industries, including consumer businesses, energy and environment, financial services, infrastructure, life sciences, manufacturing, technology and communications, and transportation. 

The firm's largest industry practice area, however, is its energy and environment segment, which works with renewable energy companies, electric and gas utilities, oil and gas, and companies at the intersection of power and technology. The firm says it has developed strategy for dozens of companies worldwide and trained energy executives in all aspects of corporate strategy development and implementation, enterprise risk management, risk management, portfolio and asset management, and environmental strategy. 

The bookworms next door

Considering the firm's origins at Stanford University, it's not surprising that SDG emphasizes its connections to the academic world, even claiming to have more PhDs on staff than most university graduate programs. The firm has had a 10-year collaboration with the Stanford Center for Professional Development to offer a Stanford certificate program in strategic decision and risk management (SDRM). The program comprises 15 2½-day courses that help individuals and organizations learn to make better strategic decisions, manage risk, and implement effective decision support processes. 

Outside of the certificate program, the firm also offers public courses and workshops designed to build individual capabilities in decision analysis and decision quality. And if in-person courses aren't your thing, SDG also offers free MOOCs-massive open online courses-on decision quality periodically throughout the year and shorter, one-hour webinars hosted by Stanford on decision-related topics. 

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Strategic Decisions Group

745 Emerson Street
Palo Alto, CA 94301
Phone: (650) 475-4400
Fax: (650) 475-4401

Stats

  • Employer Type: Private
  • Chairman & CEO: Carl Spetzler
  • 2016 Employees: 115

  • Major Departments & Practices
    Business Strategy
    Decision and Risk Analytics
    Education & Training
    Organization and Decision Process Design
    Portfolio Management and Resource Allocation

Major Office Locations

  • Palo Alto, CA (HQ)
    San Mateo, CA

    Beirut
    Calgary
    Düsseldorf
    Hong Kong
    Gurgaon