After departing from Interbrand in 2011, my retirement plan initially comprised of indulging myself in books and the occasional teaching as a casual way of life. But it was inevitable to both my colleagues and myself, we were well aware of all the technologic, economic, and socio-political landscape changes that were happening in a very compressed timeframe. We deeply believe that there is more to be done, and hence, we got back together.
To many entrepreneurs, today’s business landscape is becoming increasingly complex; with the emergence of social media and cross-sector collaborations becoming more common – partners and competitors can come from any angle. For example, Vanke and Taobao jointly selling real estate or take the example of YY in the online education industry, the company originated as a speech recognition software but has now become a key competitor to New Oriental English.
Perplexing business environments are giving way to more opportunities but also more risks at the same time. Under this condition, leaders of enterprise organizations will increasingly need the objective and professional perspective from management consultants, to help them respond to such changes and realize future successes.
The management consulting industry is also undergoing transformations, the changes that have occurred in the past 5 years is equivalent to those accumulated over the past 50 years. Clients have easy access to information that’s just a simple click away while consultants can now challenge their clients using their expertise and professional know-how. Service providers that are unable to deliver results are gradually becoming eliminated. The consulting sector is no longer just about writing reports but more and more clients are expecting strategic input, planning and execution to drive real business results.
The fast growth of technology is impacting our client’s organization as well, for example, when we were working with a particular client, we discovered that the O2O sector moves immensely fast and something new comes up every day. Research results that seem relevant today may become obsolete a few months later, or ideas executed and adopted to mass usage.
This type of pace not only requires consulting firms to respond at lightning speed but also to ensure their deliverables are idealistic but yet pragmatic.
And so, we have positioned MetaThink to be an expert in brand innovation and strategic growth. Our mandate is to ensure we help our clients solve their business problems with our solutions as their guidance. We care about our client’s long-term brand growth but also focus on short-term wins for the business.
Our Culture of Roots
I like to frequently use a tree as an analogy to describe MetaThink. We long to be deeply rooted, gradually taking in the nutrients from the sunshine and rain to help us become stronger. We believe in natural growth over GMO. Our eagerness for success stems from our desire to produce meaningful results for our clients. We want to help them see the implemented changes that will drive further organization growth.
A tree with strong foundations will naturally have strong roots. These roots signify one’s unique perspectives, rejection of social sameness, and the persistence to stand by their beliefs.
Lei Jun once said, “Even a pig can fly if it stands at the center of a whirlwind”. This prompted everyone to search for the next whirlwind. Thanks to the Internet and its vast access to information, blue oceans and million-dollar opportunities are emerging front, right, left and center. Though, too much information and “guidance” can often become counter-productive and cause confusion.
Rumour has it that there 3000 books published with the purpose to decode Jack Ma’s secret to success. There are all sorts of theories and models. But there is one thing that I am certain, Jack Ma is strongly rooted. In 2000 during the dot com bubble in the US, the e-commerce sector suffered a hard hit; in 2005, Alibaba faced operational challenges due to lack of funding and investment. Those observing were not optimistic about the e-commerce sector, but Jack Ma was tenacious and persisted in his belief that e-commerce was going to become a major business trend. If whirlwinds existed, then Jack Ma’s roots was what held him down until that perfect gust of wind came along.
The Essence of Meaning
We often say that meaning is what changes the world – giving a soul to even the simplest of things. Plato once said, “everything you see in this world are merely just appearances, it is the notion behind said appearances that are of the essence”.
The most important notion is belief – an object is round merely because you believe in the idea of it being “round”, so when you see an object, you project that idea onto it. But in reality, the object is never perfectly round, it has flaws but you may not see it because you believe in idealism.
The same theory applies to branding, the belief you hold manifests itself in the form of your products. But a brand itself can be an abstract concept to understand, and therefore requires other elements to help consumers see it, feel it and understand it – such as, design, experiences etc.
MetaThink’s mandate is to uncover small rays of light from the darkness and release them to illuminate its radiance. We aim to transform beliefs into practical ideas, experiences and executions for our clients.
The Meaning of MetaThink
I really like the name of MetaThink,- it’s a name that expresses idealism. Greek philosopher Aristotle initially wrote a book called “Physics” but didn’t feel he had elaborated enough on the topic and therefore proceeded to write a second book called “Metaphysics”.
“Meta” in Greek means “to exceed”. Not only do we need to exercise thought, but we have to do so on a much deeper level to help our clients clarify their problems and provide a solution.
The notion of “Meta” and “Think” is critical to a business, especially in today’s fast changing world that barely leaves us any time to think sensibly about new ideas and new concepts. We must revert back to basics in order to pick the right battles to fight. It is senseless to follow trends because trends are finite and eventually expire.
Our Mission: To Enrich the Dialogue Between Business and People
I really like 3 terms within our mission statement, “meaning”, “difference”, and “people”. It’s not easy for these terms to surface in a business environment, but this further symbolizes that MetaThink is clearly rooted in core values.
As China enters into an era of science and technology, undeniably it has advanced our productivity and accelerated growth, bringing many conveniences to our everyday lives. But from another perspective, this school of thought is a poor ideology because it assumes that everything has a regular pattern to it. But the fact is, human emotions cannot be understood as patterns because people seek out meaning. The truth is not equivocal to one’s values.
We sell and market our products to real people, and people are not always rationale. Logic is a means to an end but not the end itself. We must leverage data and logical analysis to help us uncover “the truth”, but the core of the work is in translating these “truths” into consumer resonance, to build emotional connections. （—Zhuo Wang, CEO of Shanghai Jahwa）