We were researchers, advertising professionals, marketers and communication designers.
We prided ourselves on knowing the tools and research methodologies.
We evolved a robust process to evolve winning strategies.
We talked about USPs, motivators and discriminators.
We learned to use various buzzwords and jargon.
We figured out what “core ideology” and “audacious goals” were.
What “core competence” and “productivity frontiers” meant for businesses.
We learned to conduct workshops, align stakeholders and build commitment.
We assumed that all of this led to good work and becoming a reputed consulting firm.
We were a brand strategy firm for a while…
An organizational brand consulting at another time…
And a customer-centred consulting at a third point in time.
The third avatar seemed to do its job well.
It captured a large part of our work accurately.
Moreover, it was easy to understand and communicate.
But deep within we knew that something else was at play, every time we did work that we were proud of.
Deep within, we knew that the source of the magic lay elsewhere.
It was almost like some leprechauns orchestrating the show from the background.
We began to inquire as to why things worked, when they worked.
Why some work was inspiring, and the rest just competent (though always effective.)
Why some change was more sustainable.
Why we felt like energized change makers on some days and boring consultants on others.
We discovered that we felt all of this, when we were not TRYING to be incisive planners or appearing to be great strategists.
When we were not wanting to be the smart-ass, ‘orchestrated intellectuals’
When we were not walking the corridors with a manufactured spring-in-the-step
The times that we were more human.
Just sensitive problem solvers.
We stopped using unnecessary models and techniques.
We stopped using marketing and corporate strategy language.
And found that we loved it!
Saying things like “leverage” and “synergize” – weren’t our voice, our note and our scale.
We settled down to just a couple of commonly known terms and stayed away from the rest.
We found that clients, by and large, were more comfortable with this as well.
And most importantly, it worked.
It helped address business issues far better.
We had stopped conducting interviews and started having conversations.
We had become sensitive to people and their needs, rather than harass them with research agendas.
We. Learned. To. Listen. Better.
We found that most people had all the time in the world to chat with us.
And share their most private, beautiful and even dark details of their life.
We found that the richness of conversations that helped us arrive the right direction was many times more powerful than the traditional methods of tackling client questions.
We discovered that asking canned questions and not allowing conversations to flow organically was simply disrespectful and far less effective.
We felt that knowing someone deeply – a customer, company or its partners involved suspending time.
In that time, we get to know their past and present, their hopes and dreams, their desires and anxieties, their insecurities and identities.
We took it all in as they exposed their beliefs – all windows into how they thought and behaved.
Just understanding the products- services or the category was missing the woods for the trees.
We had to solve problems, humanly.
We learned to run workshops to arrive at solutions rather than driving it in a certain direction with pre-meditated outcomes.
We changed things every project – to not let inertia drag us into complacency.
We evolved creative as part of the strategy process and strategy as part of a creative process.
Every project was a new journey.
It took more time, maybe more effort but was worth the ride not just for the client, but without a quark of doubt, for us as well.
This, is the idea of being human-centred.
This is what we believe is a powerful way to run institutions, solve problems, make a lasting difference to the society AND earn one’s keep.
This means being alive to the idea of being human – which is the need to be dealt with sensitively.
The need for respect.
The need to be heard.
The need to be creative.
The need to be simple.
The need to be authentic.
The need to be trusted.
The need to be happy.
The need to be similar, yet different.
The need to be successful, but not at the cost of others.
The need to make a difference to the world.
The world of humanizing institutions, including our own, is therefore our destination.
That’s the journey we have undertaken.
A journey that has also moved us from doing strategy consulting projects to solving problems.
A journey that is orchestrated by us as advisors on some days and products we have created on other days.
A journey that tries to place humans at the centre of this world.
A journey that has shifted our centre of gravity to a different, a richer world.
A world that’s simple and real.
A world that is creative and sensitive.
A world that has the joy of discovery.
A world that sees people.