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Hiding in Plain Sight
Hiding in Plain Sight


It is the autumn of 1860, and Englebert Kaempfer is sitting in a restaurant in Suruga, Japan. His name doesn’t sound very Japanese, and indeed he isn’t – he’s a German doctor, here to look after employees of the Dutch East India Company. He is also a naturalist, which is why his eye is drawn in the restaurant to an unusual-looking crab.

He doesn’t realise this yet, but nobody has ever categorised this particular crab, one that becomes known as the Japanese Spider Crab. His role as discoverer is later recognised and the species becomes officially named after him.

Kaempfer’s achievement was to see, in plain sight, what everyone else had missed.

What treasures are in plain sight in your organisation?

Our Discovery process is designed to reveal precisely that. Our sophisticated methodology? We go around talking to people. The role of consultants has been cynically described as ‘borrowing your watch, and telling you the time’. So doesn’t our Discovery process sound suspiciously like that?

Here’s the difference.

We don’t just repeat back what we’re told. We collect and collate these multiple views from people inside and outside the organisation, then draw on our own decades of experience as communicators and fundraisers, and distil all this into actionable insights. We don’t create this treasure – we find what has been there all along, hiding in plain sight

Treasure is not an over-statement.

Because what the Discovery process reveals can, and indeed should, be the foundation for everything that follows. It should determine your messaging to all your stakeholders and audiences. It should be the basis for the creative brief to your agency. It should provide a roadmap for many years to come.

All this has been true of our work for several organisations. An example is our long-term project with UCL Engineering – our original Discovery process acting as the foundation for a multi-year programme of communications. This has provided a platform for a strategic plan which has seen the faculty become the single biggest financial contributor to UCL’s bottom line – an increase of 56% in 4 years.

Crabs are known for their sideways movement.

If you feel you are also struggling to move forward purposefully, it could be that you lack a clear road map.

To find out whether a Discovery project makes sense for you, come and have a chat with us on our boat. We also offer free half-day workshops where, together, we can tease out some key issues. To find out more, contact

Michael Isaacs

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