I was being interviewed by a journalist for a magazine article recently.  He asked what was so special about Kiah Method™? Made me think. Darn.

Always the way of course: complex ideas count the most when you can simplify them into a few words. Kiah Method™ contains all the usual templates for workshops, project plans, design and ideation, strategic planning and the like. There are a bunch of negotiation and contract management templates as well.

Mind you, that’s the same as every effective consulting company. If they don’t have a repository to capture other people’s learnings, and adapt based on experience, then it is a pretty lightweight consultancy.

As I properly contemplated the question, however, I realised that although I have never described it in this way, there is a philosophy that comes to the fore in much of our work.

This philosophy was hard learned and now not only underpins much of Method™ but also how we engage, work with each other, negotiate, and sell.

“If I understand your perspective, my perspective changes forever.”

Understanding doesn’t mean agreement, but it does mean empathy and respect. People have reasons why they do things, establish positions, react the way they do, and why they so often defend the status quo. Understanding the other person’s perspective leads to insights into beliefs, options, alternatives and constraints not considered.

Our views are formed by our experience, our research and our point of view. Others may be viewing the problem with a different lens. Their perspective may offer a valuable contribution. This approach is powerful:

  • In negotiations – where we move from arguing over positions to building solutions, sometimes better ones, that meet both our needs
  • In disputes, by disarming the argument and moving to constructive consideration
  • In considering complex options that challenge the status quo, by inviting stakeholders to contribute their perspectives we uncover fact from fiction and real constraints that will make the future path stronger if properly addressed

This philosophy might come more easily to those with a natural bent for empathy, but even those of immoderate temperament can learn techniques for building rapport, effective listening, de-escalating tensions and drawing out opposing views.

The philosophy is the foundation, Kiah Method™ the tools. But knowing what to do isn’t the same as being able to do it. The secret sauce is, of course, the consultants who know how to take the philosophy to our clients.