At Minkowski we always say: “nobody knows Minkowski, but everyone knows Einstein“. We use this statement as an illustration for something that is at the core of who we are and what we hope to accomplish in our work. Our work is not about us, it is about the people we help and work with. And we believe that our work can only be successful (help organizations with transformation) when it is not us that execute a transformation for our clients, but it is the people inside organizations themselves that make a transformation happen. It is them that should be in the limelight not us.
A million Einsteins to change the world
Minkowski was one of Einsteins teachers. He was of course in no way responsible for all the great work that Einstein accomplished, but judging from the documented interactions that they had on special relativity at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich, where Minkowski taught Einstein, they both learned from each other. Einstein’s theories have changed the way that we see the world and it has transformed everything we do and learn. That is our goal as well: we have the ambition to ‘create’ a million Einsteins so that the world can transform and become a little bit more sustainable.
Agency for change
So our story for transformation is a story about empowerment of individuals. Through the actions (and interactions) of the people we work with we think that transformation becomes much more successful (I’ll write some more on the reason for that in a next post). Our programs are designed to give the people in companies ‘agency for change’: the capacity to act in a given environment. That means that we also take responsibility to give people the ‘tools’ to make it happen, because otherwise, when we leave our impact is gone too. Just like Minkowski: you don’t take away from someone what you’ve learned them.
Einstein, who was primarily interested in physics at the time, found great value in mathematics only years later when he used some of Minkowski’s fundamental mathematical equations in his own theory. It’s a great example of giving someone agency to act and go way beyond the initial spark.
So: nobody knows Minkowski, but everyone knows Einstein. And that is just the way it should be. This goes for us as well: we don’t strive to be known, we’d rather let the results of our sparks speak from the words of the people we have worked with.