Here are some of our working principles, which underline our approach and improve the conditions for success when engaging with our clients and partners.
We take a highly collaborative approach with our clients. Because this is how we achieve higher levels of performance. We view our clients as partners and co-learners in shared journey.
We encourage open and authentic conversations. A strategic transformation process often requires confronting hard future realities, so we encourage creating a safe to dialogue around these “unspeakable” issues and being comfortable admitting to not knowing the answers.
We assume a shared responsibility for the outcomes with our clients. We see ourselves as responsible for creating the best possible “container” for breakthrough insights and transformation to emerge. However it’s up to our clients to commit to the change process and take ownership over their own learning.
We incorporate flexibility in our project designs. These large projects are often moving targets with many uncertainties, shifting parameters and options. Conditions change, both within and outside of the organization. So we work with our clients in a flexible way, adapting the process as new insights emerge in ways that best serves the project objectives. In many ways, by doing so we are “walking the talk” of the process. Because just like the future is inherently uncertain, not every thing in this project can be clearly defined in advance.
We strive for excellence and a high level of integrity in our methods and practice. While we are highly flexible and will work within many constraints, we will work hard to maintain the conditions for success, and not compromise the quality of outcomes by taking shortcuts or under-resourcing important steps in the process. We believe in slowing down to do to the right things that move our clients farther ahead in the long run.
We embrace a diversity of perspectives in our processes. Because this is often the best way to achieve breakthrough new insights. In practice, however, this is often difficult. It’s always more comfortable and safe to talk to like-minded people. Yet no good strategic transformation process can succeed without including divergent views and contrary opinions. So our job is to encourage the right kind of diversity—of thinking, ages, disciplines, backgrounds, and ideologies—in our process designs and help our clients embrace this in a constructive way.
We take a whole person approach. Good foresight and strategic change requires multiple intelligences—equal parts head (analysis), heart (emotions and values), gut and spirit (instincts, will, courage). To adapt to external change, leaders need to adjust their mental map and mindset, and develop new skills for coping with uncertainty and ambiguity. This is why we engage with our clients holistically, and design our workshops using both analytical and creative modalities that tap into all of our senses.
We take a whole system approach: Successful insights into the strategic landscape happen when we widen our lens and situate ourselves in the whole system in which we live. This helps us “get of the box” in a more rigorous way, enabling us to better sense of our emerging future and understand the systems dynamics, especially since the vectors of change almost always come from the “outside-in” (and why we’re often surprised by them). A key principle in our work is to hold this systemic perspective and encourage our clients to do the same.
We believe in the power of creative processes and “serious play”: We think the best insights happen when we’re energized and feeling creative, when we’re having fun and in state of flow. So wherever it makes sense, we include moments of “serious play,” which also counterbalances the more challenging aspects of futures thinking. By “serious play” we don’t mean superficial exercises but established techniques used by leading innovation experts, designers and creatives. In fact, as a principle, we believe there is much to learn from artists, many of who are expert and creative performers in rapidly uncertain contexts.
We are committed to building our clients capacities through action learning. For us, we will not feel our work is a success if our clients don’t learn something new and meaningful. Our highest goal is always to create the conditions for transformative leadership. In practice, this means creating opportunities for our clients “to learn by doing”—hence our core team approach. This also means creating the space for reflection and sense making, for “slow time”, since this is often hard to do in our busy day-to-day working lives.