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Character Traits of a “Go-To” Life Sciences Consultant: Critical Thinking is Not Just for Winning at Chess!


Two businessmen with chess in office

If you’ve been binging Netflix at all over the past year (I admit I’m guilty …), you probably watched the series, “The Queen’s Gambit.In this series Beth Harmon, a young chess prodigy, conquers one opponent after another in one of the world’s oldest strategic games, emerging as a victor from even the most hopeless situations. 

How did she do it? Critical thinking.

The life sciences industry is very complex, and can require just as much strategy as a good old-fashioned game of chess. The critical thinking that Beth employed in the series may have been created in Hollywood, but it can be boiled down to three real and tangible steps that we can take into our everyday decision making.

  1. Identify available options
  2. Evaluate and choose the best option
  3. Repeat

At its core, this is the backbone of critical thinking and a framework that your go-to consultant should know. Let’s take a closer look at each step.

Identify the Available Options

Have you ever triumphantly made a move in chess, only to realize that the better move was right under your nose the whole time? The problem was not that the move wasn’t there, but that you failed to see it. No matter what problem you’re facing — there will always be options. Short- and long-term options. Expensive and inexpensive options. The problem is that it can be hard to identify your options.

In addition, identifying your options becomes more difficult as the problem becomes more complex. The quickest parts of a chess game are at the beginning and the end because your options are relatively easy to identify. During the middle of the chess game, scenarios can become incredibly complex and your options extremely difficult to spot. In other words, as the problems you face become more complex, identifying the options becomes harder.

Still, it’s incredibly important to take the necessary time to identify as many options as possible because identifying your options is the gateway to choosing the best one.

Go-to life science consultants can facilitate the identification of options, even in the most complex scenarios. They can act as an SME but still bring a fresh perspective by leaving any expectations or preconceived notions behind. They can lead strong cross-functional teams through activities such as mind-mapping, rapid ideation, starbursting, and reverse brainstorming to help identify as many options as possible.

Go-to consultants also understand that in the real world, there will always be options that were not identified. Options are not identified for a variety of reasons, but the understanding that they will get missed opens the opportunity to prepare for this eventuality. Go-to consultants prepare you and your organization for missed options by adopting a mitigation strategy such as avoidance, buffering, or monitoring. 

Evaluate and Choose the Best Option

Although identifying all of the options is extremely important, it is only the gateway to choosing the best option. In chess, even after you’ve identified all of your available moves, you must also decide which one is best. This choice often depends on a large variety of factors. What is the current layout of the chess board? Who is your opponent and what strategy might they employ? Does this move set you up for a successful second, third, and fourth move? 

There are similar considerations that must be thought about for your business. What is the current situation of your business and industry? Who is your competition and what are their strategies and competitive advantages? Is this option in harmony with your values and long-term goals?

Success at choosing the best option is almost entirely dependent on the situation and must always be considered with your larger goals in mind. Go-to consultants quickly assimilate to and learn the nuances of your company, culture, and broader industry. They listen to you and learn your goals so they can help identify the best option using all context available. They can discern between what is possible and what is achievable and draw consensus from a group to keep your company moving forward.

There are a variety of tools that can be used to evaluate and choose the best option including multi-voting, opportunity scoring, financial analysis, or customized prioritization matrices. Go-to consultants will be familiar with many of these methods and can guide you to and through the tool that makes the most sense for you and your company.


In a game of chess you make a move, and then your opponent does. Even in as little as two moves, the entire game can look and feel completely different. This means that as soon as it is your turn again, you should repeat the process.

Each turn in chess is like a new decision in your business. The world is dynamic and the context surrounding your business can change quickly. It is important to restart the process each time a new decision must be made for the correct context to be captured when evaluating your options. Go-to consultants understand the importance of repeating the process for each decision, even if the context looks the same at surface level.

Contact Enterey Consulting Today

Critical thinking is important in the success of all businesses, and it is a character trait that your go-to consultant must have. At Enterey Consulting, we prioritize critical thinking with our life science project management consulting professionals. Contact us today to learn more about our unique approach to life science project management solutions.