OUR HISTORY AND PURPOSE
We can only judge the quality of the development work we do, by the leaders and organisations we create. In 2008 we witnessed a failure of both, and realised that what had been sold as ‘best practice’ by many academics and consultancies, was in fact little more than snake oil. We saw the price those organisations paid in both human and commercial terms.
In Marylebone’s Nordic Bakery in 2013, we founded Heresy Consulting as a response.
We wanted to replace what we saw as the over-engineered, superficial and soulless fads of popular psychology with something more profound.
We felt there was need to return to a more grounded approach. We knew that human systems required human conversations and we wanted to offer an alternative.
Our vision was to develop leaders and organisations who inspired others with their humanity; engaging people through understanding, meaning and empowerment.
Traditionally leadership and organisational development has been focused on the ‘outside in’; the teaching of idealised behaviours. We recognise that research suggests that this approach is not sustainable as the ‘surface structures’ of personality tend to fall away under pressure allowing old habits to re-emerge.
We returned to the fundamental principles of Analytical and Developmental Psychology and considered how to develop leaders and organisations from the ‘inside out’, beginning with a foundation of deep insight. With insight, we can make informed choices about who we are, and how we relate to others. We can balance the rational with the impulses and anxieties of our unconscious, and work with both. In facing ourselves, we can develop the stability and resilience needed to face life’s challenges and realise our potential.
Leaders who have this insight can create generative workplaces which are healthy and engaging places to work. They can create therapeutic organisations.
We knew this demanded time and effort but that the results would be sustainable.
Whilst we continue to develop our ideas and methods, we remain true to our founding principles.
WE TURN LEADERS INTO PEOPLE
OUR MODEL OF LEADERSHIP
Clinical research suggests that there are three fundamental human needs. To engage others in any authentic and meaningful way leaders must respond to these needs.
We all need to know that we are seen and understood, and that we are connected to someone else.
Leaders must understand others and ensure that they feel understood.
We all need to make sense of the world and of our place within it.
Leaders must help others create the stories that help them understand the world in times of change.
We all need to feel we matter and to have some control over our lives.
Leaders must build the confidence in others needed to take ownership of their lives.
In the same way that a mother ‘detoxifies’ the anxiety of her child, providing shape and structure to new experiences and encouraging play and exploration, leadership is the creation of a meaningful dialogue where leaders help those around them build an understanding of their world, and the confidence to face it.
The development of reflective function which allows leaders to be open and appreciative of the minds of others, is the foundation upon Heresy works.
To develop these leaders, we return to four main principles, inspired by the archetypal forces of the heroic journey to adulthood:
We know that all change is step into the unknown. Change only happens by standing on the edge of what is known and stepping forwards. We know that real development, requires real work with real consequences.
Only through difference can we learn. Change is not born from the places and people we know, but from those we do not. We seek out the contrary and unsettling, and through experimentation and play, allowing it to provide the spark for change. We are Trickster, provoking our clients and bringing energy and vitality. We reinvent ourselves and do not allow our minds to atrophy with unquestioned dogma. We are always present; working in the moment with ‘no memory and no desire’.
We work at the edge, always remembering that our role is to build our clients confidence and capability to solve their problems themselves. We do not carry their burdens. We take responsibility for the process, not the outcome.
Leadership is an expression of the soul. It is founded on a deeply held sense of self, not a series of generic behaviours. We work from the 'inside out‘, knowing that healthy leaders are healthy people. We help individuals and organisations to work within the unconscious and face their shadows.
We create sacred spaces, the liminal ‘thresholds’ where conscious and unconscious come together and the soul is forged. We know that the spaces in which we work matter and we understand their symbolic importance. Our work spaces reflect the work itself and the context through which our clients are moving in their development journeys.
Within these spaces, we hold our clients as they face the unknown and play with its possibility. We understand their hopes and fears and they feel understood, and know that we are unafraid of their shadows. We will stand beside them as they experience the turmoil of transformation.
We are made through our relationships. The experience of shared humanity is the best preparation for life. We work through conversations to explore common meaning and help people find their voices. We know that development is dependent upon human connection and that we are made through our relationships. The experience of relationship creates the agency needed to sustain change.
OUR APPROACH TO WORK
Heresy Consulting is first and foremost a design consultancy.
Our interventions are shaped through a meticulous application of theory, function and form. With each detail of every intervention we embody our capability and the degree of care we feel towards our clients. We know our work is grounded in theory and we will always be able to reference the theoretical basis for any key aspect of our design.
‘Simplicity isn’t just a visual style. It’s not minimalism or the absence of clutter. It involves digging through the depth of the complexity. To be truly simple you have to…deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential’
Human beings are complex and deserve respect. We only do them justice by knowing our theory in depth and applying it with rigour to create beautifully crafted solutions. We are not swayed by fads or half-truths. We understand that each detail of every intervention has a purpose, and is known in terms of the value it adds and its necessary positioning as part of the whole. We do not ‘paint by numbers’.
Each intervention is a journey, where each step forwards is meaningful. We provide the signposts and coherence to build the confidence our clients need, to make sense of their worlds.
We know that each intervention must be designed in context and with a full understanding of its systemic impact. Our interventions have a coherent flow and contribute to the creation of therapeutic systems.
‘Many things difficult to design prove easy to perform’
We know that if our design is well considered and our own skills have been well honed, we can ‘trust the process’ and bear the inevitable tension that comes with transformational change. We will know when to sit patiently and wait, and when to intervene and change course.
OUR OWN DEVELOPMENT
‘The great illusion of leadership is to think that man can be led out of the desert by someone who has never been there’
Henri J.M. Nouwen
We value and recognise the importance of the work we do, through the quality of our self-development. We are exploring our psyche, facing our own shadows and actively engaged with our own individuation.
‘...talent means nothing, while experience, acquired in humility and with hard work, means everything’
We know that the path of insight and individuation is endless and avoid the illusion of performance and prowess. We do not ‘breathe our own smoke’ or fall in love with our own capability. We continue to look further and deeper knowing that we will always be surprised by what we discover.
We know that development is a mutual entanglement and discovery. We understand the role of transference and counter-transference. We understand our impact upon our clients and their impact upon us and we work with this understanding in the service of both. We know that in supporting transformation we are ourselves transformed.
We are therefore committed to our own development, and willing to invest the time and energy required, knowing that this journey has no end. We are willing to question the truths we hold most dearly and constantly test ourselves and our knowledge.
Through this insight, we do not confuse our clients needs with our own and, recognising that this is their journey, we allow them to make their own choices and walk their own path.
‘We design our world, while our world acts back on us and designs us’
OUR ASSOCIATE COMMUNITY
We offer the opportunity to participate in a vibrant and diverse community of associates, working collaboratively to embody our shared goals and ideals.
We feel a collective responsibility for the success of Heresy Consulting and each of us represents Heresy with a consistent voice to our clients. This voice is heard in our design, in our visual materials and in our presence.
We recognise that we are individually less than the sum of our parts.
We will challenge ourselves and our clients, pushing the boundaries of what is possible and never allowing ourselves to ‘stand still’. We know that if we are not developing ourselves, we do not have the right or capability to demand that of our clients. We must ‘do the work’ to ‘do the work’.
We share our knowledge and experience openly across our community, knowing that the work we do together becomes part of the Heresy Consulting archive, as a resource to us all.
We respect the confidentiality of our clients and our organisation and in everything we do, we embody our founding principles.
We do not pay dividends and instead reinvest our profits in the development of our work, our associates and our organisation.
We are all contracted on the same basis, working to a common set of terms and conditions.
We know our success is based on the quality of our relationships, over the long term and will structure our projects to serve the best interests of our clients and our organisation as a whole.