Introducing Cygnus Sprints …

Grey Swan Guild
9 min readMay 3, 2022

Seven On-Demand Solutions for a Complex World, Big Challenges & Future Directions, with a Difference

It’s Finally Time….

Our Guild has wrestled to the ground over the last year how we go about introducing various ventures of tangible commercial, educational and societal value — transforming a passionate global network into an appetizing organization and business model ... with a difference.

Cygnus Sprints is the Grey Swan Guild’s second launch of its Cygnus Ventures (our first was our events rollout in April — The Craft-Building Series).

With such a deep and wide talent pool inside the Guild, the most popular venture our members wanted to participate in was a change consulting and advisory group represented by Cygnus Sprints. Fully 75% of our inner core either wanted to be involved, or wanted it to happen as a top three idea.

What is the Cygnus Sprints Group:

Nothing is quite like it in the world, and we believe Cygnus Sprints is a model that will be repeated again and again by others after we’ve hatched ours this month.

We are a different approach of tackling organizational challenges in a non-traditional way. Cygnus Sprints is driven by the notion of making REAL progress on the shifting client & partner needs of today and the biggest uncertainties of a future tomorrow. We think it has three defining differences versus what we’ve seen:

a) “Cut the B.S. Approach” — The Right Solutions in the Least Time

  • why do your consulting projects go on for what seems forever, locked in some double speak, jargon-rich purgatory (some with even locked-in, multi-year contracts) — we want to make progress in your world in three months or less — all of what we do will be motivated by giving the best value per day in the marketplace
  • we have landed on an opening roster of seven sprints (with some optional extras) that are focused on your company’s most imposing “non-business as usual” work — intro, sensemaking, scanning, discovery, strategy, innovation and transformation sprints
  • we have pulled together 25+ principals and advisors from the deepest pool of talent inside our Guild who are motivated to do their best work, incentivised to do it speedily, smart enough to ask the right questions and steeped enough to cover off 50+ disciplines of change.

b) A Better On-Demand Business Model

You want a taxi, you find one on your Uber app. You want to tech solution — you purchase a monthly piece of cloud software-as-a-service. You need some basic level help, you find talent from around the world on Upwork, Fiverr or Toptal. You want to find an amazing rare find or craft, but you’re not going to Walmart, you’re more likely to find it on Etsy, Depop or Flipkart.

It’s not so hard to see based on the above how the world is going decentralized, on-demand and free-agent in its orientation, almost like how the movie industry has been making films for the last half century. Let’s get the best talent, who have their own companies or jobs, grab some of their time, engage them in a frictionless way and apply their immense talents to client solutions. It’s a top five business model of the future and it’s not going away. We think there is a great way to repurpose this value generation & capture in a change consulting & advisory practice to offer clients: significantly better & broader experiences, better value for time invested, significant reductions in overhead and happier, more partnered experiences. Out with the big-box consulting baggage, and in with customized, well-crafted solutions.

c) A New Interdisciplinary Practice Backed by The Strength of A Global Guild

We already have a huge pool of independent and professional talent inside our Grey Swan Guild — 4,000+ members and 90+ countries deep - it’s a huge starting point advantage.

The real truth is whether you tap a boutique innovation shop, upstart agency or incumbent management consultancy, once a contract is landed there is a mad scramble to find talent that can actually do the job. You, as the client, end up paying for all this change, mercenary engagement and junior hires in funds, slow starts and unfortunately, mismatched cultures and mistakes.

With Cygnus, we already have a bank of talent that has been vetted — they are professional, experienced, humanist in tone and own our Guild’s celebrated values (collaborative, curious, purposeful and aspirational) with a pedigree of long success behind them. We have worked with them already in Guild projects and have enjoyed the experience. We’re turning that goodwill outward to others. Other service firm behemoths can throw an army at you (as former clients, we often used to ask why are so many people in these big consulting meetings?), but we can deliver the exact right specialist team for your bespoke need.

Cygnus Sprints — The Core Problems We Solve for Partners & Clients

  • External Complexity — the world is 4x faster, 8x more uncertain and 12x more ambiguous than it was a generation ago. The last two years of a pandemic has shown quite provocatively that winners need to operate under less-than-precise conditions, murky futures and on the turn of a dime. We do that, and embrace that.
  • The Incumbent Problem — ask most companies, causes or civic groups about their service partners and the average answer is less than impressed. There is so much waste, rigidity, sticker shock and traditional thinking and operations in agencies, boutiques and management consulting firms. There is even less traction on getting to solutions that will actually help or see the light of day. We solve that, empathize with that (many of us are former clients or company owners) and embrace progress.
  • The Missing Need — organizations are so damn busy managing their near term, the partners they bring in focused on the future better be quick in thought and execution, speedy in demonstrating value, experienced enough to draw on past work (vs. learning on the job) and collaborative to work on your immediate challenges (not show off their own aloof brilliance). We are that one-stop source for quick, collaborative and forward momentum on your next needs.

Cygnus Sprints — The Core Opportunities We Offer Our Members

  • Popularity & Common Sense — we considered fifty ventures, Cygnus Sprints was voted #1 by members. It makes sense with the chaotic world around them; it’s motivating for their collaborative DNA to work as a distributed team; it’s consistent with the upswing to remote work; and it’s economically interesting as a free agent approach to servicing clients. It’s business simply done better.
  • Building Value — the Grey Swan Guild has 50 shades of different thinkers from anthropologists to zoologists and every change agent in between. Why hold all this talent just for our own Guild ventures? Let’s extend the circle for the benefit of all.
  • The Power of a Guild — many of our Guild members work as either independents, in small companies or in project work, the idea of working on initiatives beyond their own singular talents, capacities and disciplines is motivating to them. In our Guild math, 1+1+1 truly does add up to more than 3.

The Menu of Cygnus Sprints — Not Too Hard, Not too Soft, Just Right

We are offering seven sprint solutions right out of the gate, with the ability to add some extras or execute these sprints in combination

a) Intro Sprints (keynotes, briefings, immersions, audits, content)

  • we can inspire, freshen up and drive seed directions for your leadership and teams better than the other people, it’s what we do — we even have 50+ freshly updated keynotes ready to give with very little notice and we host a deep dive on a new craft each week of the year

b) Sensemaking Sprints (framing, complexity, inclusivity, retrospectives, gap & bridge analysis)

  • most partners haven’t even heard of sensemaking, never mind execute something behind it (read our 20 Reasons Sensemaking posts) — we make the complex, complicated and chaotic simpler, we make the unclear clearer, we instinctively see the connections and frame those challenges back to you more credibly than the other people

c) Scanning Sprints (environments, wild cards, breakouts, uncertainties and signals)

  • our Grey Swan Guild was started in the midst of a pandemic, our name itself implies our ongoing discovery of wild cards, uncertainties, new avenues of pursuit, omnifutures and Grey Swans, it’s not just a discipline, it’s a passion of ours

d) Discovery Sprints (scenarios, opportunities, exploratory, co-creation, crowd challenges)

  • we are masters of six methods of tumbling the future for partner benefits, between our Guild’s Weathervane research group, global group of futurist and foresighters and bank of trends & forces, we are able to backcast implications for the now by anticipating, exploring, considering, quantifying, acting on and sharing about the future-lypse better than the other people

e) Strategy Sprints (vision, objective/goals, strategic options, impact assessment, business cases)

  • strategic planning is typically an annual function of companies, we can bring the best management minds to provide blueprints, range of options, validation and implementation paths to you future one, three, five and ten year directions

f) Innovation Sprints (business models, ecosystems, experiences, expansions, products, services)

  • with command of hybrids of thirty+ leading innovation approaches and thirty+forces, our teams can help you start, explore, search, venture, introduce, scale and embed innovation more deeply and profoundly inside your organizations

g) Transformation Sprints (business, digital, executive leadership, culture, brand & experience)

  • tapping into leadership, culture, technology and process work to get companies, their staff and supply chains through major shifts, liminalities and change imperatives, we have change agents able to facilitate executive and business teams through all varieties of transformation

The Extras (events, content, implementation, training, counsel, combos)

We are able to customize or add on

  • dashes (keynotes, content marketing)
  • hurdles (implementation work)
  • decathlon (training) or
  • marathons (ongoing counsel)

with the ability to also execute sprints in combination.

Recap of Cygnus Sprints’ Benefits:

  • The World is Complex and Faster — even the best client teams don’t have the time to keep pace with the world around them, Cygnus plugs the gap
  • The Consulting & Advisory Industry is Riddled with Challenges — Cygnus provides relief from traditional thinking and the baggage of big consulting, we are better synced up for today’s age and client needs
  • The Value Equation — Cygnus has a business model that provides better expertise & expertise, at quicker speed, with more bang for the buck
  • The All-Star Team — we are the New York Yankees, Real Madrid or Boston Celtics of consulting teams, a deep bench of experience of 25+ principals that can play every position required, backed up by a guild of 4,000+ professionals
  • The Magnificent Seven Sprints — we have seven sprints that we know how to perform well, know how to customize well, and know how to develop tangible progress for partners and clients in less than 3 months

Intrigued/ Connect with Us?

Want to enlist our team?

Need an intervention of change?

Want to join our squad of all-stars?

Need to know more?

Get in touch with the MDs of Cygnus Sprints for a conversation and exploration: Mitchell Halpern and/or Sean Moffitt at



Grey Swan Guild

Making Sense of the World’s Biggest Challenges & Next Grey Swans — curating and creating knowledge through observation, informed futurism, and analysis🦢