The #OtherwiseAt30 Manifesto

A picture of a birthday cake with white text that says Otherwise 3.0 est. 1992

A picture of a birthday cake with white text that says Otherwise 3.0 est. 1992

And just like that — we’re turning 30 this year. In true Otherwise fashion, we enter this new chapter facing forward, optimistic and ready for anything. And as we embark on what…the next 30 years?…we remember what got us started, and what has always kept us going.

Staying curious. We’re self-professed lifelong learners. We enjoy taking on clients and their projects that introduce us to new ideas, challenge our expertise and allow us to move from the unknown to the familiar. We cross-pollinate and bring thinking across boundaries in unlikely ways. We read, write, explore and play, because when we keep our minds open to new ideas and experiences, we create more meaningful, resonant and impactful work.

Redefining business as usual. When you’ve been in business for 30 years, it’s easy to get set in your ways — especially when those ways are tried and true. But we prefer to shake things up and get uncomfortable. How can we help clients navigate uncertainty and change? How can we rethink our processes to create even better work? What’s our role in the community, and how can we leverage our skills, our nonlinear, antitraditional wisdom and our energy to play a more active part?

Seeking new models for engaging. We’ve never been fans of hierarchical, rigid relationships, but have doubled down on using empathic inquiry to cultivate meaningful, productive partnerships with our clients that aren’t based on power but on affinity. In the process, we empower our team, clients and partners to reach their full potential by creating space, sharing knowledge and lifting each other up — all the while making great things together.

Breaking the grid. In 2021, we launched a blog series titled “Breaking the Grid,” which shines a light on under-the-radar Chicagoans doing big, inspirational things. We’ve operated under the tagline “Seeing Things Differently” since 1992, and we carry this idea forward with renewed energy to “break the grid.”

Leading with generosity. It’s taken a pandemic and continued social injustice for us to recognize that the spirit of generosity that lives in our DNA is something special. Empathy and compassion have driven our work since the very beginning, and we continue to show up in the world with generosity — for our team members, our clients, our partners and our community. We don’t keep score and we don’t hold back. And the greatest reward is helping foster the magic that comes from generosity: reciprocity.

Celebrating. Over these 30 years, we have had a lot to celebrate: 30 years of enriching relationships, 30 years of boundary-pushing ideas and 30 years of navigating change with beauty and imagination. And as we step into the future, we continue to celebrate the little things — the everyday successes and joys that keep us kicking at 30.

Stay connected throughout the year as we look both back and ahead at Otherwise! Follow #OtherwiseAt30 on Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.