The COVID-19 pandemic is having profound effects around the world. I hope people everywhere make it through this global crisis with their health intact and their spirits strong. Best wishes to everyone.

Come to This Page for News from ACS

Contact ACS with any questions or comments.

Upcoming events, publications, inventions, and more. Visit the Services page for information about Cyborg War Games™, business war games, the Top Pricer Tournament™, ACS Strategy Stories (10-minute videos about strategy), workshops on strategic thinking, and more. Follow and connect with ACS Founder Mark Chussil on LinkedIn.

Make Strategy Your Superpower“: Podcast for Harvard Alumni Entrepreneurs

October 5, 2021: In this episode our host, Denise Silber, is joined by Mark Chussil, Founder of Advanced Competitive Strategies Inc., and business wargaming expert. They discuss the worrisome fact that the vast majority of entrepreneurs still execute on untested strategies, only to discover that the market did not react as predicted. Mark then shares some of his most impactful experiences with companies across a range of industries who now identify major strategic blindspots through testing and simulation.

So how can testing your strategy add billions to your bottom line? And how can you find blindspots in your plan before your competitors do? Mark Chussil recommends that you combine humans and computers and make strategy your business’s superpower. And he even invites you to try out his pricing tournament simulation game.

(The link brings you to the podcast and to additional resources.)

New: Essays on Strategy bibliography

ACS has updated its bibliography of 68 articles and blog posts about competitive strategy. You can view and download it.

ACS Strategy Stories

A series of 10-minute non-commercial videos on a single strategy subject. Click here to see the Strategy Stories available now. Latest addition, #10: “The Strategy Questions No One Asks”.

“Rethinking Strategists: How Humans + Computers Change Competitive Strategy Itself”

March 24, 2021: The Chicago chapter of the Association for Strategic Planning will host that webinar. Hint: The change is not about Big Data; it is about Big Games. Free for ASP members world-wide, a modest charge for ASP non-members. (I do not receive any compensation. I guess I missed a critical class when I got my MBA.) Information and registration.

When to Switch Strategy in a Crisis” — Harvard Business Review

“When a crisis hits, do not assume you should change your competitive strategy only because something has changed and the knee-jerk, do something alarm is roaring. Companies rightly seek agility and fear complacency. But consider the flip side: The more zealously you monitor the world, the more likely you will react to noise instead of signal. And this: The better your current strategy, the more likely a new strategy will be worse.” (Read article on (February 3, 2021)

“The Strategy Questions No One Asks”

December 3, 2020: I presented a webinar sponsored by the Institute of Business Competitive Intelligence (Romania). We started with four simple questions that every strategist asks, and end with four simple questions that work better. Here’s one of each. Every strategist asks, why do strategies fail? The better question is, why do strategies fail even though we know why strategies fail?

“Why Strategies Fail Even Though Everyone Plans to Succeed”

October 20, 2020: I presented a webinar to the Australia chapter of the Association for Strategic Planning. A key problem in strategies that fail: false positives.

“If You Are Sure, You Are Wrong”

August 26, 2020: I presented a webinar, “If You Are Sure, You Are Wrong”, to the Council of CI Fellows. (I am a Fellow of CCIF.) You can watch the webinar on the CCIF YouTube channel or on the CI Fellows site.

You will see:

  • Four reasons why businesses fail
  • What we learn from the Top Pricer Tournament™
  • Why “it depends” is CI’s friend (and confidence is not)
  • Three ways to raise your odds of success.

The webinar shows how odd questions can lead us to understand strategy failures better. Here is an odd question from the webinar: “Imagine you are a 14th century European. Is it cognitive bias to believe the sun orbits the earth?”

Over 2,000 people have entered the Top Pricer Tournament™

August 3, 2020: The Top Pricer Tournament™ now has over 2,000 strategies, entered by over 2,000 executives, managers, students, professors, and consultants, on six continents! It calculates over 12 billion scenarios to see how well strategies perform. You can enter too. It is free for individuals, confidential, and non-commercial.

“How to Not Fail as an Entrepreneur” — Webinar for (Entrepreneur’s Network)

It takes sober effort to think strategically, and entrepreneurs are not sober. They are giddy with dreams… as I was. But there are fixes.

August 12, 2020. Offered twice: 10-11 am EDT (7:30-8:30 pm IST) and 2-3 pm EDT (11:30 pm-12:30 am IST).

Click here for information and to register.

Six New Webinars from ACS

Contact ACS to arrange one or more of these webinars for your corporate group, professional association, or university.

  • Why Strategies Fail
  • Frames, Games, and Inspiration
  • Why War Games Work
  • Cyborg Strategy™
  • Executing a Strategy Does Not Mean Killing It
  • How Strategies Succeed

Click here for an overview of the webinars and to download a webinar brochure.

Remote War-Gaming and Learning

ACS can adapt its thought-provoking workshops on strategic thinking, and even its powerful business war games, to work even if corporate teams do not come physically together. As an extra benefit, remote war-gaming and learning can tap the perspectives and expertise of people located anywhere.

Upcoming Webinars

Mark Chussil will deliver multiple webinars in March and April, with more to come. They will focus on competitive strategy, human+computer simulation, and how not to fail as an entrepreneur. For more information, or to inquire about a webinar for your group, please contact ACS.

“Cyborg War Games™: How Humans, Technology, and Imagination Upgrade Competitive Strategy”

WEBINAR: Mark Chussil will present “Cyborg War Games: How Humans, Technology, and Imagination Upgrade Competitive Strategy”, sponsored by SCIP UK. January 22, 2020, 11 am Eastern. Click here for more information and to register.

“Computers and Strategy: A Match Made in Artificial Heaven”

Mark Chussil will deliver this presentation for the Association for Strategic Planning (ASP) at its annual conference in Whistler, British Columbia, on May 14, 2020. [Update, April 27, 2020: He will present it in ASP’s virtual conference on June 9.] He delivered it as a webinar for ASP on October 10, 2019, as a webinar for Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals (SCIP) on October 3, 2019, and at the 2019 SCIP International Conference (May 6-9) in Orlando.

John Henry wasn’t beaten by a steam hammer. He was beaten by a human with a steam hammer.

In Computers and Strategy: A Match Made in Artificial Heaven I draw on mathematician John von Neumann, MacArthur genius award-winning political scientist Robert Axelrod, chess champion Garry Kasparov, business war games, game theory, cyborgs, really cool software, and my own research on the Top Pricer Tournament™.

Underlying it all is an AI-enabled approach to decision-making that offers a disruptive look at competitive strategy itself. I know it’s disruptive because it rocked my own thinking.

Conference presentations also include conference-wide competitions with the Top Pricer Tournament.

The NEW Employee Manual: A No-Holds-Barred Look at Corporate Life

Entrepreneur Press published The NEW Employee Manual: A No-Holds-Barred Look at Corporate Life, by Benjamin Gilad and ACS founder Mark Chussil, in March 2019. Here’s the book on Amazon and in the Entrepreneur Press bookstore. You can see excerpts from the book, and articles related to the book, on (Search for Chussil or Gilad.)

A few reviews

Professor Jon Down, the University of Portland: “Hilarious, sharp, and insightful. Ben and Mark deliver on the promise of giving us a spot-on understanding of the realities of today’s corporate world. I have found new required reading for my graduate students.”

IMD Professor Phil Rosenzweig, author of The Halo Effect“: Provocative, irreverent, brash — and very wise. Don’t be fooled by the informal tone and levity. The ideas here are dead serious — and im­mensely practical.”

Micah Zenko, The McChrystal Group, author of Red Team: How to Succeed by Thinking Like the Enemy: “Gilad and Chussil provide guidance for the newly-minted MBA to the wizened middle manager for how to become and remain a maverick. [They] have written the rare business book that is highly-readable, actually funny, and practically useful.”

The Top Pricer Tournament has over 1,900 entrants

ACS’ Top Pricer Tournament has reached a milestone: it runs over 10 billion simulations to analyze the strategies submitted by more than 1,900 people from around the world. You can enter, too! It’s free, confidential, and thought-provoking. Several of our digital articles in the Harvard Business Review (see below) are about the Tournament. And you will support our research.

The Top Pricer Tournament has worked at universities from the Ivy League in the east to the University of Portland (where ACS Founder Mark Chussil is an Adjunct Instructor) in the west, and in corporate programs from the USA to Sri Lanka. Contact us to discuss how to bring it to your classroom or company.

Recent publications and presentations

Competitive Intelligence Magazine

There’s a Mental Model in Your Head

“Mental models are as flexible and creative as the human brain. … Mental models are as slippery and imprecise as the human brain.”

“The five rules of models. 1: There is always a model. 2: Computer models are people too…” January 2020.

Getting Smart and Not Predicting the Future

“I am not saying quick, forceful reaction [to competitors] is automatically bad. I am saying obsessive focus on competitors is not automatically good.” January 2020.

Harvard Business Review Ascend (

Three Unexpected Best Practices for Making Better Decisions

“I started my business 29 years ago. To others, it might have seemed a logical move, perhaps even inevitable. It didn’t feel that way to me, and it didn’t materialize on its own or on a whim. It took “why?” and “what if?”. Plus serendipity and honesty.” November 20, 2019

How to Take Charge of Your Career Development

“Little-kid you probably didn’t mumble, ‘I can hardly wait to grow up and fulfill society’s expectations of me.’ You probably roared, ‘I want to be an astronaut!’ Or musician, or inventor, or firefighter, or superhero!”

Becoming a Manager or a Maverick

“Tips for the maverick . . . and, millennial or not, we all choose whether to become a manager or a maverick.” Based on The NEW Employee Manual: A No-Holds-Barred Look at Corporate Life, by Benjamin Gilad and Mark Chussil (see above).

More on Harvard Business Review (

Don’t Spend Your Life Making Up Your Mind

“There will come a day when you would give everything you have left to have what you have right now.” May 15, 2017

Why Bring Unpredictable Is a Bad Strategy

“In business, the opposite of unpredictable isn’t predictable. The opposite of unpredictable is strategic.” January 5, 2017

‘Rally the Troops’ and Other Business Metaphors You Can Do Without

“Consider ‘revenue stream’, in which customers are natural resources for us to pump. Imagine what will happen when we figure out how to extract the last few drops via the equivalent of fracking. Maybe we already have. Just look at the revenue streams that end in puddles of unused stuff in our homes.” November 25, 2016

How the Very Best Strategists Decide

“If you want to outperform the crowd, you’ve got to do something the crowd isn’t doing… To do something the crowd isn’t doing, you must think something the crowd isn’t thinking.” October 24, 2016.

Slow Deciders Make Better Strategists

“There are many ways to split people into two groups. Young and old. Rich and poor. Us and them. The 98% who can do arithmetic and the 3% who cannot. Those who split people into two groups and those who don’t.

“Then there’s the people who make good competitive-strategy decisions, and those who don’t.” July 8, 2016.

Harvard Business School 2016 Reunions

Mark will present “Nice Start! Now What?” on June 3, 2016, for the HBS 2016 Reunions.

“Your life is not a checklist, bucket list, or shopping list. So what is it? In this highly interactive session participants will ask, and answer, thought-provoking questions about themselves and their lives. They’ll find out who they are at their core. They’ll learn how to recognize when they’ve stopped thinking too soon. They’ll consider whether it’s bad to lose $80 million. They’ll explore how many days they have felt truly alive. They’ll get to know their one-way trips, two life-changing words, and fighting tigers. Participants will leave this session with big smiles and deep thoughts.”

Based in part on Mark’s book Nice Start: Questions Only You Can Answer to Create the Life Only You Can Live.

More on Harvard Business Review (

Keep a List of Unethical Things You’ll Never Do

“Writing a list of things you won’t do doesn’t shield you from temptation… But your list just might help you recognize where your slippery slope begins.” May 30, 2016.

Don’t Let Your Mistakes Go to Waste

“The solution is not to tolerate mistakes or avoid risk. The solution is to confirm less and challenge more.” March 1, 2016.

“Would You Play Reverse Russian Roulette with Your Money?”

January 26, 2016

“There’s a reason why so many startups fail. Lack of market need, and other fatal mistakes, may be causes of startup failure, but they are effects of something else. I learned about the something-else the hard way.”

See “Reverse Russian Roulette” on Vistage‘s Executive Street blog.

Essays on LinkedIn

Read Mark’s LinkedIn essays via his page on LinkedIn or via this link on ACS’ site.

ASP Conference, San Francisco

March 17, 2016

Mark Chussil will speak on “How to Appraise — Yes, Appraise — a Competitive Strategy” at the annual Association for Strategic Planning conference. San Francisco, Thursday, March 17, 2016. Click here for conference details.

More on Harvard Business Review (

Two Words to Help You Gut Check Your Career

“I came face to face with my own transition from child to MBA when a teenager said two words to me…” November 5, 2015.

Question What You ‘Know’ About Strategy

“Fortunes are made by noticing such practices and challenging the assumptions behind them. Companies are lost by hardening common practices into shackles. Fortunately, breaking rules is free. All you need is curiosity, attentiveness, and the courage to challenge conventional wisdom…” July 30, 2015.

Ibramerc 2015, Sao Paulo, Brazil

June 16-17, 2015

Mark Chussil presented a keynote address and a one-day workshop. The keynote address was, “With All This Intelligence, Why Do Strategies Fail?” The workshop was, “How to Use Intelligence to Make Smart Strategy Decisions.”

Mark Chussil Ibramerc







ACS’ Mark Chussil on Harvard Business Review (

No One Can Think Outside the Box” (June 5, 2015)

“A box is a frame, a paradigm, a habit, a perspective, a silo, a self-imposed set of limits; a box is context and interpretation. We cannot think outside boxes. We can, though, choose our boxes. We can even switch from one box to another to another…”

A Tournament Pits Strategists Against Each Other to See What Works” (June 8, 2015)

“It’s hard to study competitive strategy. As a result, we don’t know much about what actually works…” Contains an invitation and a link for people to enter the Top Pricer Tournament™. Over 700 people have entered so far.


The Holy Grail of Competing” (July 15, 2014)

“Blackberry, Company B, and Forensic Strategy” (July 15, 2014), reprinted in “Forensic Strategy” first published here on October 8, 2013.

The Sound of Competing, Episode 3: Culture Doesn’t Replace Strategy” (podcast with Ben Gilad) (July 11, 2014)

Scroll down for more publications and podcasts

“Billion-Dollar Surprises: How and Why Business War Games Pay Off” webinar

An encore presentation: July 29, 2014 1-2 pm EDT

Business war games sound cool. That’s because they are. Business war games are not about war; they’re about learning. They put your knowledge of your business to better use and they lead to much better strategy decisions.

In this thought-provoking webinar you will encounter case studies from real-life companies that used business war games to make tough, important decisions. You will learn:

  • What business war games do and why they work.
  • Why humans like, and need, business war games.
  • When to use business war games and what to expect from them.

Click here for more information and to register. Hosted by the SLA, sponsored by Aurora WDC. Free.

“Lucky or Smart: Did Your Strategy Win or Did Their Strategy Lose?” webinar

Webinar sponsored by the SCIP Michigan Chapter, July 17, 2014. Program is 12:30 – 1:30 EDT. The program is similar to one for the Harvard Business School alumni webinar series in March 2014.

“Don’t gamble; take all your savings and buy some good stock and hold it till it goes up, then sell it. If it don’t go up, don’t buy it.” — Will Rogers

In business we obey something like the Will Rogers rule. We judge a strategy by comparing its actual results to the results we expected: results below expectations, bad strategy; results above expectations, good strategy.

Judging results against expectations assumes that we control our results and that we set reasonable expectations. Of course we know those assumptions are heroic, but we haven’t had great alternatives. Until now.

In this thought-provoking webinar we will discuss:

  • A real-life case of challenging the in-control and reasonable-expectations assumptions
  • The quality of a decision versus the happiness of an outcome
  •  How conventional strategy development systematically biases expectations upward
  •  Startling results from a “tournament” to which over 550 people have contributed strategies

For more information and to register, please click here. Free for SCIP members, nominal charge for non-members. 

“The Sound of Competing, Episode 2: Harmony Versus Confrontation” (podcast with Ben Gilad) (May 30, 2014)

How Can Opposite Strategies Both be Right? Or, the Non-war between LG and Samsung” (May 20, 2014)

How to Hire People Who Think: Use Games” (May 14, 2014)

The Sound of Competing, Episode 1: Vision or Overconfidence?” (podcast with Ben Gilad) (May 2, 2014)

Selling to Machines: How Search Engines Twist Marketing Strategy” (April 18, 2014)

Make Critical Business Decisions Quantitatively, 97.3% of Quants Say” (April 11, 2014)

We’ll See How Smart Mark Zuckerberg Is” (March 4, 2014)

Fog-Colored Glasses: Bias and Overconfidence in Business Decisions” (January/March 2014 Competitive Intelligence Magazine)

“Why Strategies Fail”

May 12, 2014 Association for Strategic Planning 2014 Conference, Long Beach, California

Strategies fail when strategists choose bad strategies. That sounds obvious until we consider that strategists never choose bad strategies. At least not on purpose.

This intensive, provocative three-hour workshop didn’t only describe why strategies fail; it demonstrated why strategies fail, in a series of entertaining and incisive exercises. It also presented a way of thinking that’s the best way to build long-term competitive advantage.

This workshop is available in versions ranging from an hour to a day. Please contact ACS to discuss.

“Business Games in Recruiting”

April 23, 2014 ERE Recruiting Conference, San Diego

What can business games tell recruiters about candidates’ ability to think strategically? A great deal more than track records or questions. This session made the point by playing a business game… with 600 people.

“How to Think Strategically”

April 17, 2014 Portland State University

This highly interactive talk for an MBA Marketing class will focus on why smart strategists choose strategies that fail and on insights from ACS’ Top Pricer Tournament™. It will include a real-time game that illustrates the value of strategic thinking in surprising, even stunning, ways. To discuss a similar program for your university or executive-education program, please contact ACS.

“Finding Strategic Thinkers”

April 17, 2014 Sponsored by the Portland Human Resource Management Association

How can companies recruit strategic thinkers? How can they look past the shiny optimism of track records to see if a person really does think strategically? This highly interactive presentation will show how, and it will identify the most-important characteristic of effective strategic thinkers.

“Billion-Dollar Surprises: How and Why Business War Games Pay Off” webinar

April 3, 2014 noon EDT

Business war games sound cool. That’s because they are. Business war games are not about war; they’re about learning. They put your knowledge of your business to better use and they lead to much better strategy decisions.

In this thought-provoking webinar you will encounter case studies from real-life companies that used business war games to make tough, important decisions. You will learn:

  • What business war games do and why they work.
  • Why humans like, and need, business war games.
  • When to use business war games and what to expect from them.

Click here for more information and to register. Sponsored by the SLA. Free.

“Why Strategies Fail” webinar

April 3, 2014, 7 pm EDT

Strategies fail when strategists choose bad strategies. That sounds obvious until we consider that strategists never choose bad strategies on purpose.

Strategists are smart, experienced, industry-savvy, data-rich, and highly motivated to succeed. They want to choose smart strategies. Yet smart strategists can and do choose bad strategies. We know that because we see the ultimate strategy failure — bankruptcy—even among the world’s largest companies. Not to mention less-newsworthy failures to meet goals.

Why do smart strategists choose bad strategies? The answer has nothing to do with short-term orientation, not paying attention to customers, neglecting innovation, complacency, and so on. Those mistakes are symptoms, not causes.

How can you choose a good strategy? That answer has nothing to do with being the first with the latest factoids, calculating your spreadsheets to another decimal place, inspiring your troops with gallant leadership, dashing nimbly as conditions change, or SWOTing your competitors like flies.

The reasons strategies fail and succeed are simple, deep, powerful, and actionable. We’ll do more than talk about them in this interactive webinar. We’ll demonstrate them.

Click here for more information and email here to register. Sponsored by SCIP. Free for SCIP members, $15 for others.

Upcoming presentations (posted January 12, 2014)

All of these presentations will be delivered by Mark Chussil.

Incorporating Business Games into Your Recruitment Approach“, at the ERE Recruiting Conference and Expo 2014, San Diego, California. April 23, 2014.

Strategic thinkers are critical to your business, but tough to identify before hiring. Business war gamer Mark Chussil is a practitioner, innovator, and teacher of competitive strategy who’s worked with thousands of executives and managers in Fortune 500 companies around the world. He has learned a lot about what makes a person able to recognize, develop, and select successful competitive strategies, and more importantly, how you can assess someone’s strategic thinking ability before you work with them.

In this session you’ll:

  • Learn why track records don’t have a good track record.
  • Discover how, why, and what business games reveal about candidates’ strategic thinking.
  • Experience a business game in real time, and learn about your own strategic thinking.

What’s the Most Beautiful Thing You’ve Ever Done?”, based on Nice Start: Questions Only You Can Answer to Create the Life Only You Can Live, at the SCIP 2014 conference in Orlando, Florida. May 7, 2014.

Why do you work? To earn a living; I know. But why do you do the work you do? You could do something else, you could make different tradeoffs.

These questions, and many others, are not about right or wrong. They are about making conscious decisions instead of living on autopilot.

In our session we’re not going to talk about making a living; we’re going to talk about living. Don’t worry, we won’t get terribly terribly serious. No silver bullets, mystical forces, psychobabble, too‐good‐to‐be‐true anecdotes, or be‐like‐me advice. Nothing embarrassing, no putting people on the spot. Just getting real.

Our session isn’t about a technique or a trend. It’s about you, your career, and your life.

In our session we’ll ask, and answer, questions. Essential, thought‐provoking questions such as selecting which tiger to feed, deciding to take a one‐way trip, and what you can do when it’s raining.

Something we’ll discuss will help you save time or avoid anguish. Something will make you smile or feel less alone. Something will trigger an idea or a change.


Why Strategies Fail,” an intensive workshop for the Association for Strategic Planning‘s 2014 conference in Long Beach, California. May 12, 2014.

Strategies fail when strategists choose bad strategies. That sounds obvious until we consider that strategists never choose bad strategies. At least not on purpose.

Strategists are smart, experienced, industry-savvy, data-rich, and highly motivated to succeed. They want to choose smart strategies. Yet smart strategists can and do choose bad strategies. We know that because we see the ultimate strategy failure — bankruptcy — even among the world’s largest companies.

This is an intensive, highly interactive, thought-provoking workshop designed to challenge conventional wisdom on strategic thinking. We’ll draw on real-life companies such as J.C. Penney, Netflix, Safeway, and more. We’ll demonstrate techniques such as business war-gaming and strategy simulation. You’ll see that what’s remarkable about those techniques is not only that they work but also why they work. You’ll even participate in a strategy “tournament” where you’ll test your strategy prowess.

In this workshop you will learn: 

  • How the tools we use to help our strategies succeed can make them fail.
  • How to avoid the perils of making decisions while being human.
  • How to anticipate more and judge less. By the time we judge, it’s too late.
  • How to build the most-important source of competitive advantage

“Lucky or Smart”: a webinar for Harvard Business School on March 19, 2014 (posted December 19, 2013)

Mark Chussil will deliver “Lucky or Smart: Did Your Strategy Win or Did Their Strategy Lose?” in the Harvard Business School alumni webinar series, March 19, 2014. For more information about this webinar, please click here.

Strategic Thinking: downloadable document (posted November 14, 2013)

View or download this compilation of highlights from ACS workshops on thinking strategically. Also contains links to dozens of articles on strategic thinking, business war games, and strategy simulation.

Webinar October 24 (posted October 2, 2013)

Mark Chussil will deliver a webinar for SCIP on October 24, on “Why Strategies Fail,” hosted by Cambridge Healthtech in Massachusetts, Mercyhurst University in Pennsylvania and ING Direct in Toronto. For registration information, click here for Massachusettsclick here for Pennsylvania, and click here for Toronto. People in other cities may register through any of those links.

Keynote speech November 1 (posted September 27, 2013)

Mark Chussil will deliver the keynote speech for SCIP and SLA‘s “Discovering the Aha Moment” conference on November 1 in Austin, Texas. His speech will be “You’ve Got the Data. Now What?” Click here for a conference agenda and registration information.

Twitter chat with Harvard Business School Alumni (posted September 3, 2013)

Mark Chussil (HBS 1979, @BusinessWarGame and @NiceStart) twitter-chatted today with @HBSAlumni. You can read the riveting (well…) Storify thread, with comments and links covering business war games, strategy simulation,, the nature and skill of competing, and free advice for HBS students.

Essays on (posted September 3, 2013)

Mark Chussil recently published these essays on

  • Betting on Halos. It’s easy to tell if a business was profitable after the fact. Unfortunately, we have to place our investment bets before the fact…
  • Between You and Glory. (Originally published as a guest column on Startup Beat.) Good news! There are only two obstacles between you and glory for your startup…
  • Triple Sales! Go upscale! (With Ben Gilad.) We are going to tell you two true stories of conflict between top management and product management…
  • Rat Beats Human. No one — well, no human — says a rat is smarter than a human; yet, competitively, rat beats human…
  • 62% Raisin Bran.  The company didn’t set out to deceive; it set out to compete…
  • What Competing Means. People often take it to mean fighting, conquering, leading, or managing…
  • The Denial Tree. (With Ben Gilad.) Denial trees are decision trees from which inconvenient truths have been pruned, and they are danger­ously popular in real-life business decisions… (posted July 11, 2013)

ACS Founder Mark Chussil, Academy of Competitive Intelligence Founder Ben Gilad, and competitive-intelligence software company clearCi have joined together to bring the world

The URL used to bring you to ACS, as did (and does) Now the former brings you to the joint venture’s website; the latter is the way to get to ACS’ website. There is no effect on ACS or its website. focuses on competing as a skill. To learn more, have a look at the July 10 press release about On Twitter, follow @CompetingCom.

How and Why Business War Games Work (posted July 11, 2013)

Mark Chussil will present an interactive workshop at the Enterprise Gamification Forum 2013 in New York City on September 23, 2013.

From the session description:

“I’ve run a couple hundred business war games on six continents, most often with custom computer-based simulations. I’ve seen them help Fortune 500 companies make or save billions of dollars. What’s remarkable is not that they work so well. What’s remarkable is WHY they work so well. After all, Fortune 500 companies have smart people, big data, and incentives for success. What can business war games add?”

Click here for registration information.

If you cannot attend the conference and are interested in this program, please contact ACS about conducting it for your organization.

“Why Strategies Fail” webinar (posted June 23, 2013)

Strategies fail when strategists choose bad strategies. That sounds obvious until we consider that smart strategists never choose bad strategies on purpose. On the other hand, smart strategists also don’t choose bad strategies by accident.

Mark Chussil will present “Why Strategies Fail” in SCIP‘s webinar series on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. In fact, he’ll present it twice on that day.

People can attend from any location and do not have to be SCIP members. Those in the Pretoria and São Paulo areas can attend online or with their local SCIP chapters.

Click for information on the South Africa event and the Brazil event. Both are free.

“Why Strategies Fail” webinar (posted April 2, 2013)

Mark Chussil will present “Why Strategies Fail” (see description above) in SCIP‘s webinar series on Thursday, April 18, 2013. People can attend from any location and do not have to be SCIP members. Those in the Minneapolis area can attend online or in-person with the SCIP Minnesota Chapter. Click here for more information and to register.

SCIP’s Fellows award (posted March 13, 2013)

ACS Founder Mark Chussil will receive SCIP‘s prestigious Fellows award for outstanding contributions to the strategic and competitive intelligence professions. The award will be presented in May at the SCIP International Conference in Orlando, Florida.

Sync Strategy video (posted March 8, 2013)

The Secret of Training for Competitiveness,” a thought-provoking eight-minute presentation by Sync Strategy partners ACS and the Academy of Competitive Intelligence, is available on YouTube.

Interview, article, and video (posted February 4, 2013)

An interview with Mark Chussil (and others) appears in the January 2013 issue of Aalto University Executive Education Profile (Finland). The interview begins on page 13 in the article “Living Risks” by Joanna Sinclair, and focuses on risk management, business war gaming, simulation, and early warning. “People don’t make bad decisions on purpose — and they don’t make bad decisions by accident.”

The ACS essay “Why Do War Games Work?” has been published, in an enhanced version, in Competitive Intelligence Magazine. CIM is published by SCIP.

Mark Chussil’s 30-minute video “Why Strategies Fail” has been viewed over 6,000 times. (Update, January 2013: it has been viewed over 16,000 times.)

Video and speech (posted December 5, 2012)

Mark Chussil’s 30-minute video “Why Strategies Fail” has been viewed over 4,200 times. It’s from his speech of the same name for two conferences of Chief Strategy Officers (New York, December 2011, and San Francisco, May 2012). You can see the video on YouTube or on “How to Think Better,” which describes ACS’ workshops on great strategic thinking.

Mark Chussil will speak on “Strategy! It’s Not Bragging If You Can Do It” for the 2013 SCIP Conference in Orlando. Update, February 4, 2013: For more information, see this press release from SCIP.

Nice Start: webinar for Harvard Business School (posted August 21, 2012)

When he’s not solving gnarly strategy problems ACS CEO Mark Chussil tackles intriguing life challenges as the author of Nice Start: Questions Only You Can Answer to Create the Life Only You Can Live. The Harvard Business School Career Management Webinar Series begins its Fall 2012 program on September 6 with “Nice Start: Now What?”, presented by Mark (HBS MBA ’79). Open to all HBS alumni.

“Suffering Strategy!” Silicon Valley workshop (posted August 17, 2012)

“Suffering Strategy! What We Don’t Know Hurts Us, and What We Do Know Hurts Us Too.” Mark Chussil will present a workshop for SCIP Silicon Valley on September 12, 6 pm – 8 pm, venue hosted by Silicon Valley Bank, Santa Clara, CA. Click here for more information and to register. Why didn’t Blockbuster become Netflix? Why did GM go bankrupt after being the biggest company in the world? Safeway and Supervalu took opposite pricing strategies during the recession; who was right?

“Paying for Bad News” (posted July 12, 2012)

SCIP published “Paying for Bad News” in the April-June 2012 issue of Competitive Intelligence Magazine. You can read and download it. The article also appears as a four-part series of posts on this website.

“Pricing and Pricing War Games” for PDMA (posted July 9, 2012)

Mark Chussil will present a workshop on “Pricing and Pricing War Games” on July 26, 2012, for the PDMA (Product Development and Management Association). Membership in the PDMA is not required. The workshop will be in Beaverton, Oregon (just outside Portland), from 6:00 – 8:30 pm. Click here to register for the workshop. (Registration is being handled by email, as PDMA’s online registration is temporarily disabled.) Click here for more information about the workshop.

Sync Strategy (posted April 27, 2012)

ACS has launched a joint venture with Dr. Ben Gilad, founder of the Academy of Competitive Intelligence and author of Business War Games. The joint venture, called Sync Strategy, focuses on intense, highly experiential programs on strategic thinking for rising-star managers. Suitable for corporate universities, executive-development programs, and more. Please contact ACS or contact Sync for more information.

Powernoodle (posted March 20, 2012)

ACS’ Mark Chussil has contributed three “Powernoodles” as a Powernoodle Expert. The three focus on Predicting Competitors’ Actions, Competitive-Strategy Action, and Scenario Planning, which help you get basic insight into key questions. From Powernoodle’s website: With Powernoodle’s technology you “participate in anonymous, online group brainstorming where everyone has a voice. The best ideas from brainstorming rise to the top through an interactive process of voting, rating and prioritizing.” (Notes: ACS recommends Powernoodle, and has no financial interest in the company.)

And now for something completely different. Mark Chussil is author of Nice Start: Questions Only You Can Answer to Create the Life Only You Can Lead (Inkwater Press, 2010). You can watch a 55-minute video of a mini-workshop based on Nice Start, with Rémy Chaussé, bestselling author of Living Life As An Exclamation Point!. (The video, recorded on March 16, 2012, is also available on vimeo.)

“Why Strategies Fail” for Chief Strategy Officers (posted February 22, 2012)

Mark Chussil will present “Why Strategies Fail” at the Chief Strategy Officers Summit in San Francisco, May 17-18, 2012, sponsored by The IE Group.

Mark Chussil will deliver a free one-hour webinar on “Lucky or Smart: How to Judge Your Business’ Performance,” March 2, 2012, sponsored by EMA-I. 5 pm Zurich time, 4 pm London, 11 am New York, 10 am Chicago, 8 am San Francisco. Click here to register and for more information. Update: click to hear and view the webinar, as it was delivered, on EMA-I’s website. Free, non-commercial, no registration required to view the webinar.

ACS is twenty years old (posted February 15, 2012)

ACS is twenty years old this month! Twenty years of business war games, strategy simulators, and workshops on strategic thinking. See also 20 Years of ACS: Plus, Four Great Trivialities about Strategy.

“Lucky or Smart” webinar (posted January 11, 2012)

Mark Chussil will present “Lucky or Smart: How to Judge Your Business’ Performance” in the EMA-I 2012 Webinar Series. It is free. It will take place Friday March 2, 2012, at 11 am – noon east-coast USA, 8 – 9 am west-coast USA. Update: see above for a link to view the webinar as it was delivered.

“Why Strategies Fail” video (posted January 10, 2012)

You can see a video of Mark Chussil’s “Why Strategies Fail” speech (see below) for The IE Group. Thirty minutes.

Mark Chussil was again named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America.

Strategy decision test technology (posted January 2, 2012)

ACS has completed major improvements in its analytic capabilities in its strategy decision test technology.

Posted November 22, 2011. Mark Chussil will present “Did Our Strategy Work?  A Great Question We Answer Badly” as a workshop at the 2012 SCIP International Conference and Exhibition, May 14-17, in Philadelphia. SCIP is Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals.

Posted November 7, 2011. Mark Chussil will speak on “Why Strategies Fail: Human People, Biased Tools,” on December 9 in New York City. He’ll speak at the Strategic Planning Innovation / Chief Strategy Officer Summit, by invitation only, sponsored by The IE Group.

Posted November 7, 2011. Mark Chussil will conduct a three-day program on strategic thinking and business war-gaming for the Indian School of Business in Hyderabad, India, November 17-19.

Posted November 7, 2011. Mark Chussil spoke on “Putting Your Strategy to the Test” at The Performance Conference in Orlando on October 20. The interactive presentation focused on the difference between judging strategies after the fact and testing them in advance. It covered “The Five ‘Gets’ to Better Strategic Thinking” and included running about 70,000,000 simulations of ACS’ Top Pricer Tournament™ with the conference participants.

Posted September 10, 2011. Mark Chussil will present a free webinar, “Did Our Strategy Work? Why We Give Wrong Answers to the Right Question,” on September 21 at 12:30 pm EST, 11:30 am Central, 9:30 am Pacific. It’s sponsored by the Strategic Planning Xchange (SPX) LinkedIn group and Method Frameworks. From the webinar description: “Carol Bartz was hired as CEO almost three years ago to turn around Yahoo. The Board of Directors fired her, by telephone, a few days ago because Yahoo has not turned around. In other words, her strategy failed. Or did it?”

Posted September 1, 2011. Mark Chussil was featured in The Many Sides of Price Optimization Software, written by Kasey Coryn of Kforce Inc. for their finance and accounting newsletter.

Posted August 23, 2011. Mark Chussil will speak at the Strategic Planning Innovation conference (December 8-9, 2011, New York City), sponsored by The IE Group. His topic is “Why Strategies Fail: Human People, Biased Tools.”

Posted July 8, 2011. Mark Chussil will deliver a two-day open-enrollment workshop on Business War Games: High-Impact Strategy Development, for The Performance Institute of the American Strategic Management Institute. The workshop will be held September 26-27, 2011, in Washington, DC. Discounts for groups of 3 or more are available; contact Andrea DiRaddo.

Posted July 3, 2011. View and download a brochure about ACS How to Think Better workshops.

Posted May 23, 2011. View a bibliography of articles and essays by ACS on the subject of why strategies fail, plus recommended thought-provoking books by non-ACS authors. The bibliography is downloadable and contains links to full text online (for articles and essays). The ACS Why Strategies Fail Bibliography.

Posted April 26, 2011. New media! See one-minute videos about “Why Do Our Companies Fail?” and “Lucky or Smart” on YouTube. They’re also on ACS’ site, on the business war games and strategy decision test pages.

View a bibliography of 25 articles and essays by ACS about business war games. It contains a brief description of each article and essay, plus links to the full text online. The ACS Business War-Gaming Bibliography.

Posted March 28, 2011 The March 24 30-minute webinar on Strategy, for the Boston Graduate School of Business, is now available, free. You can access it here.

Posted March 21, 2011 Mark Chussil will deliver a free webinar on Strategy for the Boston Graduate School of Business. The webinar is on Thursday, March 24, at 1:00-1:30 pm EST. Advance registration required; click here to register.

February 7, 2011 Audio and slides from the How to Become a Superstar Strategist webinar are available. The webinar was recorded on February 1, 2011, and is just over one hour in duration.

January 24, 2011 Mark Chussil will deliver a workshop on “Why Strategies Fail (P.S. We expected them to succeed)” at the 2011 SCIP Conference, May 10, 2011, in Orlando, Florida. SCIP is Strategic and Competitive Intelligence Professionals.

January 7, 2011 Mark Chussil was named one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior by Trust Across America.

January 3, 2011

Happy New Year!

Mark Chussil will present a free webinar on February 1, 2011, at 11:00 am USA east-coast time, 8:00 am west-coast time, on behalf of the Enterprise Management Association. The webinar is on “Build Your Skill: How To Become A Superstar Strategist.” Conventional thinking produces conventional decisions that lead to conventional results. Great thinking inspires great decisions that create great results. Learn about picking proper paradigms, learning to learn, resisting the lure of precision, and accepting the inevitability of uncertainty, all illustrated with stories from real life.

You can find a registration link on this page. No membership is required.

Mark Chussil will present a free webinar on January 19, 2011, at 12:30 pm USA east-coast time, 9:30 am USA west-coast time, on behalf of the LinkedIn group “Strategic Planning Xchange.” The webinar is on “Business War Games: Stress-Testing Your Strategy Before You Commit Your Career.” Learn why business war game work  and what they are good for; the essential elements of successful business war games; and what you can learn and apply from business war games.

To participate in this webinar you must be a member of the Strategic Planning Xchange group on LinkedIn. To join, go to the Strategic Planning Xchange group. You can review the group’s profile to assess its fit with your interests before you press the yellow “Join Group” button. As a member, you can find the webinar announcement partway down the main page for the group.

November 29, 2010. Now available: a bibliography of 24 articles and essays by ACS about business war games. It contains a brief description of each article and essay, plus links to the full text online. Please write to ACS for your copy.

November 12, 2010. Mark Chussil will teach executive-MBA classes on pricing strategy, “Everyday Woe Prices,” at Willamette University on November 16 and 17. The classes will use, among other things, ACS’ Strategy Decision Test™ technology.

The reaction from those classes: “Mark has a rare skill of being able to communicate complex topics clearly and simply.  His talk to my MBA class for professionals on pricing strategy was the highlight of the term.  These bright and demanding students learned more in one evening from Mark than they could have learned from reading a whole text book on the topic.  Mark’s intelligence, experience and wit combined to produce a fun and effective learning experience.” — Ed Warnock, award-winning MBA professor, the Atkinson Graduate School of Management, Willamette University

November 3, 2010. An audio recording of Trust Across America‘s live interview with Mark Chussil is now available. Click this link and move to 32:30 on the timer for the 25-minute conversation. Another interview is available, in print, at In Strategy We Trust.

October 8, 2010. On November 30, 2010, Mark Chussil will present a free webinar: “Business War Games: Stress-Testing Strategies Before You Commit.” The webinar is sponsored by EMA-I, the Enterprise Management Association – International. The one-hour webinar begins at 11 am New York time, 10 am Chicago, 9 am Denver, 8 am San Francisco.

October 5, 2010. Trust Across America published a two-part interview with Mark Chussil, Thoughts on Trustworthy Public Companies. You can also see the full interview on ACS’ site, called In Strategy We Trust.

Pricing and Pricing War Games

PDMA Learning and Networking Event
July 26, 2012  —  6:00- 8:30 PM

This workshop has already taken place. It received the highest ratings ever recorded in the 2 1/2 years the PDMA chapter has collected its ratings. Click here to contact ACS to learn more about the workshop and to arrange it for your company or organization.

Professionals in any industry work with tools as they set prices for their products or services: operating costs, ramp-up, S-curves, break-evens, ROI goals, and customer value. We understand the concepts and apply them carefully. How, then, do we end up fighting price wars, disappointing customers, and performing below goals?

For a start, consider what’s missing in that list of tools: anything that takes competitive dynamics into account. That’s where war games and simulations come in, and that’s what we’ll see in action on July 26th.

The Oregon Chapter of the Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) invites you to its July Learning and Networking Event. In this highly interactive and thought-provoking program, our experienced speaker will discuss and lead us through pricing decisions, pricing mistakes, and pricing war games. We will participate in simulations that shock, amuse, and enlighten as we ponder how to price effectively.

A special thanks to the Oregon Technology Business Center (OTBC) for hosting this event.


Mark Chussil, Founder and CEO of Advanced Competitive Strategies.

Mark has conducted hundreds of war games and worked with thousands of strategists in Fortune 500 companies on six continents, and helped them make or save billions of dollars. He’s a highly rated speaker who’s written three books, chapters for five others, and numerous articles, and who’s earned a patent (another is pending) for simulation technology. A 35-year veteran in competitive strategy, Mark earned his MBA at Harvard and his BA at Yale.

Date, Time, and Cost

Thursday, July 26, 2012
6:00-8:30 PM

The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA) is the premier global advocate for product development and management professionals. The Oregon chapter’s mission is to help local professionals and organizations to identify, develop, and launch more innovative and profitable products and services through cross-industry collaboration, thought leadership, and the sharing of best practices and practical knowledge. For more information about the Oregon Chapter of the PDMA, please contact: Miki Tokola, Chapter President, at

We encourage everyone in Oregon who is interested in the Product Development and Management Association to become a member of the National PDMA. For a great explanation on the benefits of membership in the PDMA, click here.

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