Leadoff by Philip Rowley


Intelligence That Works, and What It Means at BRG 

About a year ago, shortly after BRG had embarked on a brand-discovery journey, we heard something that has stuck with me ever since. A client described our firm as the “best-kept secret” in the business. 

I was thrilled at first: We know our stuff, I thought, and this guy sees it. But then I looked at the other side of the coin. When you’re building a brand, the last thing you want to be is a secret. 

Given BRG’s progression over the past nine years from a university-bred academic theory to a global firm populated by hundreds of experts across the full spectrum of sectors, business functions and critical issues, perhaps it makes sense that our abilities outweighed our reputation. And we’ve certainly used the time to make sure we have the right people and systems in place. But the client’s insight affirmed our belief that we needed to develop a strong central brand that articulated the essence of who we are as an organization. 

Now, more than a year later, we’ve done just that. We can plainly, clearly tell you what makes BRG tick in three simple but profound words: Intelligence That Works.

These words were born out of two main themes we unearthed during our discovery process. BRG is known for being responsive, which was clear in descriptors that stakeholders used when talking about us. But we’re also known for our independence, which manifests itself in the form of unbiased analysis and communication, whether we’re giving expert testimony or plainly telling a client the reality of their situation in light of all the facts. Those two points together get us to Intelligence That Works, an idea that there are different types of intelligence—econometric, practical, research and data—but that it must be understandable, relevant and, where appropriate, actionable.

Otherwise, what’s the point?

You’ll already find Intelligence That Works on our website and in other BRG materials. It is part of what will guide ThinkSet in these pages and going forward. What you’ll see in our winter issue combines deep thinking with practical guidance.

For instance, Bryan Cote (p. 18) takes a look at the opioid crisis, providing a framework for the roles that business leaders and investors—both of whom will be called upon to combat this national crisis—must play. That article, as well as a sharp take by JoAnna Younts (p. 24) on telemedicine—one of the most important new tools in healthcare, but one surrounded by confusion—were inspired by BRG’s Healthcare Leadership Conference in Washington, DC, where our Intelligence That Works brand was clearly in action, even if the words themselves were still germinating.

Also in this issue, Keith Jelinek (p. 14) details the lessons retailers should learn from 2018 as they look toward the 2019 holiday season; and Stuart Witchell (p. 7) tells readers about the enormous opportunity to invest in healthcare in China and India, provided they understand the possible risks and challenges. And we take a look at how technology might—or might not—change international arbitration (p. 28).

I am so energized for 2019. We saw something profound and sincere about BRG last year. Now, the next step—the step at the core of what we’re doing this year—is to make sure you see it too. 


ThinkSet issue 7 articles


A Call to Arms on Opioids

Payers, providers and business leaders must come together in our latest public health crisis.


New Accounting Rules Alter M&A Game

International accounting standards have changed; dealmakers should take notice.


Tool, Not Treatment

Payers need to buy in, because the technology works—and doctors know it.


Tech and International Arbitration

Despite AI’s potential, the human element is probably not going anywhere soon.


Top Thinkers to Rally around Ideas of Adam Smith

David Teece discusses a gathering of top minds in Scotland later this year—and the importance of reinvesting in the legacy of the legendary Adam Smith.


Holiday Shop Talk

We learned a lot in 2018 about retail’s future. Here’s what it means for 2019 and beyond.


Investing in Asian Healthcare

Big populations and infrastructure needs mean opportunities (and risks) in China and India.


The Case of the Purloined Punch Cards

David Kalat describes a 1971 tale of software theft. Remember punch cards?