Forgive the personal question that titles this post. I am, however, genuinely interested. I’m presuming that you’re reading this because you’ve got at least a passing interest in what I’m doing/thinking. But let’s go a little deeper than that – why are you interested?
I ask because in the light of recent events, I find myself somewhat reticent to share some things that I think could be helpful to friends and colleagues who are using SenseMaker® and running projects using narrative research. It reminds me of something that happened very early on in Narrate’s history. I’d run an open workshop with a group of London communicators, sharing thoughts on narratives and experimenting with story-based exercises. At the end of the session, a couple of people came up and introduced themselves as a company who were directly competitive and thanking me for the session.
A few months later, I was talking to a prospect about a potential project and they responded “but isn’t that a copy of XXX’s tool?” The practitioners had lifted the exercise wholesale, slightly modified the name and were claiming it as their own work. I was sanguine, and after some thought decided that this was not enough of a reason to not share exercises in open sessions. It all built the market, I believed that part of Narrate’s USP was the perspective I brought to the work – and that at worst it meant that I had a spur to continue to be innovative and coming up with the next thing to keep ahead of the magpies.
It’s a strategy that’s stood me very well for over a decade since then – and I’ve been happy to share my experiences and practice with SenseMaker® and other tools since. It’s built some great partnerships, created exciting new products and generated enough money to pay the bills!
In the past year, however, I’ve found a few things that have made me consider whether giving advice in this open forum is such a smart move. Recent events in the past year make me wonder if I’m naïve in some of the relationships I have built. My name and advice has been taken on board without due consideration – and I feel the transparency and openness has not been reciprocated and, on occasion, actively contravened – approaching my clients, etc.
I say this, not to accuse, but to give voice to a disquiet I have in sharing some of the practice I’ve developed – I want to talk about some elements I’ve found really useful in SenseMaker® – but I find I’m reluctant to share and that I am disappointed to find myself being guarded and considering my words and thoughts more carefully.
[I’m posting this at the start of a very busy two weeks, so I may not be as fast as I would like to blog again or respond to comments – silence should not be taken as anything other more meaningful than “busy”!]