Since working on The Alpine Review in 2012, I’ve been asking myself: how can the research, thinking and curation work we did for this magazine become a viable service offering? There is a lot of value in our observations, research and thoughts, which surely have several more applications.
Over coffee, a friend offered the expression, “thought partner,” which deeply resonated with me. The more I use it, the more it makes sense as a way of describing what I do for organizations and individuals.
I describe my work to my clients as making them and their organizations smarter and sharing that learning with the world at large. First, as a researcher, I bring new ideas from far and wide into the organization by way of presentations in which I explain topical and important shifts, mostly pertaining to technology or ‘digital transformations.’ At the same time, as an editor, I publicly share content that shows the value in what the company is learning about and thriving on.
To my pleasant surprise, I often get involved in company activities that are exciting and not within my original mandate. Strategy, for instance, is a popular one. I can offer valuable insight when teams are looking to (re)define their approaches to products, services and their respective future directions. Brand identity is also something I can contribute to in a meaningful way by working on the brand itself, on what it represents, on how it is projected, and on how it lives in the world. Moreover, I will be invited to jump in on brainstorms pertaining to multiple aspects of business. In these sessions, I critique and advance various designs (ie: identity, web, print, even offices). Or, I’ll be asked to make sense of disparate ideas or client approach strategies. The list goes on.
For me, the idea of being a Thought Partner allows me to adapt to the needs and curiosities of any client. I bring new ideas and perspectives to any challenge or opportunity you are facing. That process can take countless forms. For example, I can formally act as an editor, but I can also go on monthly lunch, coffee or Skype dates to discuss the trends that are important to you, or talk over a problem and offer my feedback. I can write a one-time trend report or I can present a monthly or quarterly briefing. I can research a specific question, participate in product development, help you choose speakers for an event, and I can introduce you to ideas and thinkers you need to know in a new field. My work with a client can span a couple of hours a month, a few days or follow a weekly routine. It’s completely modular.
While I find long-term discussions to be more impactful over time, there is still much value in one-time Thought Partnership. As long as I can understand the team, their strengths and weaknesses, their opportunities and difficulties, and their relationships, I bring invaluable insights to the table.
The first coffee’s on me. Let’s see if we can partner up for some thinking.