Dan Kowalski

Principal and Thinking Catalyst, Plan A Thinking
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Dan Kowalski is a specialist in helping individuals and teams resolve their toughest business problems—

  • decisions that won’t stay decided (or never get decided because ‘we are still studying it’);
  • issues with multiple points of view and no consensus;
  • or worse, major conflict with no way to break the impasse.

He has an uncanny ability to ask just the right, and often tough, questions to help people uncover and address the real issues. Known for asking questions that others did not think to ask, and reframing issues to give people a different angle. Dan uses his vast knowledge of issue resolution, facilitation and coaching techniques to have just the right tool or approach to forge a pathway for what to do and how to do it. As an external consultant, his peers called him the ‘Consulting MacGyver’ who could get out of any difficulty. As an internal consultant, he is considered a thinking catalyst helping people resolve their complex, messy and wicked problems. Having worked in all types of businesses at all levels (shop floor to board room), Dan has honed his skills in solving tough business problems but his expertise is functionally, organizationally, and industry agnostic. He has served clients in the natural resources, food, financial services, light and heavy manufacturing, technology, and consumer goods industries. Dan is a Principal and Thinking Catalyst for Plan A Thinking a boutique consulting firm specialized in facilitating individuals and teams to resolve tough business issues related to strategy, operations, and projects. Dan practices what he preaches to ensure that his clients get a practical workable approach. He uses a ‘just enough’ process to deliver success. He works as a facilitator and coach to move from ambiguity to clarity. He has worked in over 20 countries around the world and has a knack for working with non-native English speakers to get problems solved.

Creating value:

  • Reframed a decision that changed the types of solutions for a project team to consider. By finding a completely new answer they saved $750K and freed up resources to focus on more important issues related to a new plant’s startup.
  • Changed the perspective of a food company’s sales leadership team from thinking that ‘some software’ would fix their pricing and profitability problems to realizing that the real issue was no clear business process. After facilitating a cross-functional team to map their processes they found $3M in savings and fixed two serious audit points. No software required.

Dan learned Systems Thinking while earning his BS in Environmental Engineering at Syracuse University. He added to his skills by becoming a Program Leader for Kepner-Tregoe’s Problem-Solving and Decision-Making approaches while working for International Paper Company. Dan is a life-long learner especially in the area of thinking and problem-solving skills. He has learned the techniques of Dialogue Mapping to address wicked problems, Dan Roam’s visual thinking tools, Analytical Hierarchy Process for decision making, and Barbara Minto’s Pyramid Principle to name a few. He reads on an almost continual basis and is learning to play the electric bass.

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