What business are we in?

It sounds like a question for which we should have one of those snappy elevator answers, but it has proven to be surprisingly hard to define. This is what we currently say:

Increasingly, the challenges we face are interdependent and complex. The wealth of diversity that surrounds us requires that we think and plan in diverse ways, connect in new and deeper ways, and work together to generate new ideas.

Stormy Lake embraces complex, delicious problems, deliberatively bringing different experts and perspectives together and exploring the seams of our knowledge. We bring new tools and new understanding to face the complex challenges and opportunities that we face.

For this reason, Stormy Lake is a sense-making organization.

Research, facilitation and consultation are our information-gathering tools. Strategic & communications planning, innovation and application are the outcomes. Sense-making is the black box – the deep thinking and search for meaning that grounds and defines the core issues, explores the opportunities and makes it simple, clear and easy to move forward.

The kinds of problems we solve are often marketing-related problems, but we also touch public policy and business strategy. We don’t do purely technical problems – just problems that somehwere have people involved.

Very few other businesses do what we do. Lots do research, but they don’t use as many different expert perspectives. Many use experts, but  don’t dig as deep into what the core problem is, and what are the fundamental reasons why this problem exists. We have found only a handful of similar organizations around the world, including Kanso in Italy. Kanso describes themselves as a customer experience and innovation consulting firm. Perhaps their purer focus on customers is necessary for clarity.

If the elevator is a very long ride, then we have lots of time to explain – but we are still challenged to fit what we do into a short sentence.


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