For episode two of season two, Tim and Tuesday interview Jacob Watkins of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Zürich, Switzerland. Collaborating with The Outside over the last nine months for the International Committee of the Red Cross, Jacob has brought remarkably point of view on how change happens, resulting in an incredibly rich field of learning between what might have once been thought of as an unlikely trio.
Together, Tim Merry and Tuesday Ryan-Hart are THE OUTSIDE—systems change and equity facilitators who bring the fresh air necessary to organize movements, organizations, and collaborators forward for progress, surfacing new mindsets for greater participation and shared impact.
2.02 - - SHOW NOTES
- Tues: Jacob is one of the people we are learning with. It’s got us jazzed and excited. Feel like you [Jacob] keep us right on an edge.
- Jacob: It was a really interesting experience to be in our pitch with a client and be asked the question “would you be up for working with another consultancy on this project?” To be knowledgeable, subject matter people in these topics to then have this question asked… I was kind of intrigued and cautiously optimistic.
- Tim: In one of our early meetings, you named us as people who bring expertise, process and skill around systems change and what you, particularly, and PwC was bringing into the game was the ability for analysis and organizational assessment and an analytical approach.
- Tues: This was brave - you made a clear discernment. The client chose to work with both of us. Give them a lot of credit for trying something different.
- Jacob: What was cool, on both sides, was an openness to try to get under the skin of what is systems thinking.
- Jacob: I worked in the money market straight out of university. Making money and earning commission and trading was not enough intellectually for me or a meaningful change made. Had an early mid-life crisis — felt grumpy and bored. I was inspired by Tim Ferriss of The 4-Hour Workweek and other folks putting out different ways of thinking. Did a tech start-up and worked with a team that melded together and formed this incredible group. It was the learning journey that got me really excited. In my role with PwC, I am never bored and get to tackle really difficult problems. When I was in that room with you guys, I was thinking how cool it would be to figure out how to make this work. How could we bridge the seeming gap between our two worlds and that seemed like a problem worthy of attention, time and energy.
- Tim: What is distinct about PwC and Jacob Watkins and The Outside and Tim Merry & Tuesday Ryan-Hart? What’s the divide?
- Jacob: (1) I think if I can manage my PwC colleagues to keep an open mind around this, I think we can get to a meeting of the minds; and (2) We spoke with different business language. Process for you, means something different for me.
- Tues: In some ways, we wanted a lot of the same ends but our ways of going about them were completely different (i.e. data analysis vs developmental evaluation). To me, the data piece is where things come together quite beautifully. The data each of us got overlapped — it wasn’t in any way in conflict with each other. That 10% that was different was quite important!
- Tim: Often the particular worldviews that our two different organizations are coming from, but also we as individuals arrived into this initiative with one another, sets us up as adversaries where one has to win for there to be true progress of the human species or true progress for systems change or true progress for organizational development. … One of the real beauties of this particular initiative is in a very fundamental way we’ve been modelling the practice we’ve been inviting people into and in a very visible way.
- Jacob: The challenge that I faced in my career, particularly in working with clients when it comes to big-four consulting or strategy house consulting, is you're kind of hired with this underlying assumption that you will have a very clear, mechanical approach, that you will be able to deduce insights that they weren’t already aware of and that you can give answers to the organization that they can take forward… that’s kind of the more traditional consulting USP (Unique Selling Proposition) for the big firms. Traditionally, that is what the market and buyers have wanted but more and more I am seeing a shift, particularly through digital disruption, to new ways of working that challenge the older consulting models.
- Jacob: The more we can bring our world and your world together, for lack of better words, the greater the innovation and the greater the power of moving forward is going to be.
- Tues: 100%! Gives us a chance to live our rhetoric. We came up with the conception of a new Operating System together. That was definitely more of a sum of the parts. It results in better work - we developed something that did not exist in the world before.
- Tim: There are many people who will say that we [Tim & Tuesday] “sold out” by agreeing to work with an organization like PwC. Yet, what we are discovering is quite the opposite - it’s made our work better, it’s increased our capacity to serve the people we are working for.
- Tim: I’m proud of what we’ve done together, both of the work itself and the breaking down of barriers in our own worldviews and between our own organizations. Our client has talked about the Operating System we developed as “groundbreaking.” I would also say that our combined approach has also been groundbreaking.
Poem: “Whereas: An Excerpt” by Layli Long Soldier
WHEREAS I heard a noise I thought was a sneeze. At the breakfast table pushing eggs around my plate I wondered if he liked my cooking, thought about what to talk about. He pinched his fingers to the bridge of his nose, squeezed his eyes. He wiped. I often say he was a terrible drinker when I was a child I’m not afraid to say it because he’s different now: sober, attentive, showered, eating. But in my childhood when things were different I rolled onto my side, my hands together as if to pray, locked between knees. When things were different I lay there for long hours, my face to the wall, blank. My eyes left me, my soldiers, my two scouts to the unseen. And because language is the immaterial I never could speak about the missing so perhaps I cried for the invisible, what I could not see, doubly. What is it to wish for the absence of nothing? There at the breakfast table as an adult, wondering what to talk about if he liked my cooking, pushing the invisible to the plate’s edge I looked up to see he hadn’t sneezed, he was crying. I’d never heard him cry, didn’t recognize the symptoms. I turned to him when I heard him say I’m sorry I wasn’t there sorry for many things / like that / curative voicing / an opened bundle / or medicine / or birthday wishing / my hand to his shoulder / it’s okay I said it’s over now I meant it / because of our faces blankly / because of a lifelong stare down / because of centuries in sorry
Song: “In Gold” by Submotion Orchestra
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Produced by: Mark Coffin @ Sound Good Studios
Theme music: Gary Blakemore
Episode cover image: source
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