Week 69

In this week note, we discuss a topic dear to our hearts: how do people perceive us.

Wait, what? January is almost over? That was rather quick, wasn’t it?

Perception and arrogance

This is a tricky topic, so please bear with me for a bit.

How a person or a company is perceived by its peers and the public is a complicated question. Third Wave has always been rather fortunate in that regard, but with a tricky twist. Somehow, we have been always perceived as cool and professional. The design of our website only emphasized that. But especially in the beginning, people struggled to describe what we do.

Some people knew us from our previous jobs and we didn’t do a good enough job to help them understand how Third Wave picked up on that. Others encountered us through our new work and often through the Cognitive Cities conference. For them, it wasn’t instantly clear why “those guys are trying to do what they’re trying to do”.

All of this is part of an ongoing process. It’s about syncing what is in our heads with our public perception. But finding the right words about what we do, what we want to do and our stand on the many things that are interesting to us is not always easy. It leaves a lot of room for interpretation and framing.

Over the last few month – and I’m being perfectly open about this – some people told us that we are arrogant or at least can be seen as such. We are grateful to those people who spoke up. It created an opportunity for us to reflect on this and retract some actions where we might have been unkind or ignorant. Obviously there are two sides to every story. In those cases when our way to communicate wasn’t appropriate, let me say this: point taken and we will work on this. Both as a company and as individuals.

Nevertheless, we stand by the fact that we’re not satisfied with the status quo of our industry and will continue to call it into question. And that means that people will be challenged by us doing things differently. People will continue to believe that we think we’re better than them just because we choose to do things differently. We can live with that, but we’d rather have them take up the challenge to progress and outpace us with new ideas, approaches and being plain better.

Author: Igor

Igor likes to connect the dots. As a strategic consultant in an increasingly complex world, he favours broad knowledge over specialisation. In the last five years, he helped shape strategic decisions at large corporations like Deutsche Postbank AG and Deutsche Telekom AG as well as at startups like Amen and refund.me. In his work he is focusing always on finding the appropriate solutions as well as the people who will be executing upon his advice. Beside the consulting work, Igor speaks at international conferences on variety of topics (SXSW, PICNIC, re:publica, etc.).