In one of the casual discussion during my early days with my current organization, I asked my boss why there was a paradoxical statement within the organization. The brand positioning statement said- “Our USP Is Our Brilliance” and the deep rooted Philosophy was – “I know that I don’t know”. Somehow these two statements kept playing in my mind and for a thinking mind I felt I need answers. I am certain this paradox would be intriguing to all those who join this organization. When I wanted clarity on the rationale and synergy of the two key statements; strangely my boss commented that I would discover the answer for my question in due course of time. I was left intrigued because while he said so, he also had this wicked smile on his face.
Days passed into years and I became a seasoned professional, at least that’s what I hope to have achieved after 14 years of working primarily in the consulting domain. Working on multiple client strategies and their creative implementation and uniting these scientific, analytical & strategic insights with continual imagination becomes a key challenge most times. It would be quite a super-human feat to be an expert in all disciplines of marketing and above all, have the intrinsic knowledge of the client’s domain like the way a client would have of his own business.
So when I do go and tell a client that I don’t know it all, and that too coming from a premier consulting firm, it often draws curiosity. In fact many a times, basis the expression on the client’s face I guess the client is wondering whether I am being humble or blatantly stupid. I’m sure such a statement surely makes clients uncomfortable as most traditional thinking leaders would prefer to work with agencies and consultants who already have a prior experience of working in the category of their business; in other words they hire firms that work for their competitors. Though I don’t see the logic for them engaging some partners except for them bringing in pre-conceived notions and ideas to the table but I don’t blame such business leaders, cause who wouldn’t want to stay in their comfort zone. What ideally impresses such organizations for their brand direction are some fancy TVC ideas or showcase of a great creative presentation which may or may have not created a business impact. Ideally conventional business leaders have always partnered with domain knowledge experts and a know-it-all attitude of a solution provider, but I have seen various instances where progressive new-age leaders are seeing merit in partnering with firms that are analytical, knowledge seekers, rather sincere, forthright, objective and who are passionate to chase the numbers like the client does. Surprisingly this set of progressive clients are the Indian 1st, 2nd & 3rd generation entrepreneurs who though have in-depth knowledge of every aspect of their business; these leaders in fact seek out partners like my organization that begins with ‘ I know that I don’t know’ to give them a strategic direction than going for partners who say I know it all!
Most companies who hire us want not just improvement on their image but also seek advisory services on organization development and business; all that links to their top-line and bottom-line betterment. In fact one of our Indian SME client having a net-worth of billions of dollars in the FMCG space told us that across his 30 years, for the 1st time he heard the statement of ‘ I know that I don’t know’ and gave us a large value consulting project in the second meeting.
As enterprises of today understand that its quite a far-fetched idea to give a strategic solution without having a surgical understanding of the challenges at hand and mostly challenges do not show themselves like a typical symptom, hence I find more and more such leaders not preferring to hire doctors that do the conventional surface touch, feel and prescribe route for their business. What worked yesterday will surely not work today. These enterprises and new-age leaders seek a better approach; an approach of diagnosis and analysis of various influencing environments to derive insights that forms into recommendation for their business growth or I could say a prescription of the best route for the treatment that addresses the brand and business challenges at hand.
Over time with the experience I have embraced non-conventional thinking and imbibed a new philosophy of constantly learning. I have witnessed the smooth amalgamation of profitability and creativity which can go hand-in-hand and for that it is not always essential to know it all but rather begin with the end objective in mind and go all out with guns blaring starting with the premise of ‘I know that I don’t know’ ! Now I truly understand the reason behind my boss’s smile that left me intrigued.