Perspective shift in London

In the past year I have twice returned to London after several months very much somewhere else, once from South East Asia, once from Denmark. The city is different each time I return. Not because the city has changed, but because I have. Or, at least, my perspective has changed.

After three months travelling around Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and Indonesia, I returned to London and saw a majestic city. In comparison to the throbbing chaos of South East Asian cities, London was orderly, spacious, dripping with wealth, full of old, understated power. Everything worked with such ease, there was so little friction with each interaction. But it was also the end of a vacation. London felt like a slap in the face with real life, telling me to smarten up my act before moving on.

Now, after five months living, learning and loving in Copenhagen, I come back to a very different city. In comparison to the Danish capital’s pristine streets and impeccable citizens, I see in London a messy, patch-work city, brimming with poverty, where tired, rushed and frazzled Londoners push their way onto crowded tubes, driving forward with their objectives, slaves to their social diaries and anti-social hours. Yet London’s diversity and grit emit an energy and ambition that Copenhagen often lacks. As a brief trip back to my homeland, each street is full of nostalgia. I miss the sense of being fluent in the city’s cultural cues, equipped with the insider’s view, and empowered in a way that in Copenhagen, as an outsider, I am not.

My perspectives as a returning traveller, as a migrant-visiting-home, together are like an optical illusion. All are true of the city. But one image always emerges more salient. And all these perspectives are my own, the same person, just coming from a different place. The perspective is capable of both prejudicing as well as enriching understanding.

For great work in strategy and insight, we should always be conscious of how our perspective is both shapeable and mutable. My perception of London has shifted. I learn more with each shift, a new facet to this fantastic, terrible city. It’s the same with all things that strategy and insight professionals are tasked with understanding. The best work involves consciously and constantly recognising one’s shifting perspective to try see the world at its fullest.

Getting psychological in Copenhagen

I recently moved to Copenhagen. What’s drawn me to this city?

Well of course, the famous design culture, the quality of public services and Danish pastries have all been an attraction for me.

Nevertheless, I’m particularly excited by a trend that is taking place here. Copenhagen is home to a movement that blends business and organisational practice with human sciences, such as psychology and anthropology. This is taking place in the academic sphere, with trail blazing research coming out of CBS and KU. But also there are several businesses working in this growing field. See consultancies RED Associates, Is It A Bird and Krukow, for example

As a strategist, I’ve always been very passionate about adding psychological depth to my work. That’s why I’ve come to this city to study a Master in “Cognition & Communication” at Copenhagen University. It’s a unique course that seeks to understand the psychological phenomena of communication, between people, between groups and with technology. With it, I hope to be able to give a new perspective on my client challenges.

What’s more, there’s a healthy start-up scene here in Copenhagen, with the Nordic countries punching above their weight in terms in the number and quality of successful tech businesses created. You could argue Copenhagen is at the centre of this Scandi start-up culture. Looking forward, as well as continuing to work with UK-based clients, both agencies and start-ups, I hope to begin to grow my network here in Copenhagen and work with some of these companies.

So, with that in mind, a new chapter in wonderful Copenhagen begins…