Janne Muller-Wieland has won just about everything you can win as a hockey player in her career: she has participated in three Olympic Games, won a medal in Rio 2016, became European and World Champion and played over 343 international matches for Germany.
As the captain, she was the leader and the heart of the team. But it was not until the shock of being omitted from the Tokyo Games in 2021, as national Captain, that ironically led to something even better, her role as co-founder and CEO for management consultancy, Unthink.
In the lead-up to the Tokyo Olympics, fate had her eating pizza with a group of leadership experts from the Big 4, who were moaning about the state of the learning and development industry; “Nothing changes”, “The world of work has changed, why haven’t we” “It’s just been the same for the last 25 years”.
The world had changed. It was during the global pandemic that was reshaping the future of work, leadership, talent recruitment, and development forever. Muller-Wieland, who found time to succeed as a serial entrepreneur throughout her sporting career, in classic form said, “Let’s do something about it then”. Unthink was born.
“Unthink connects the dots between people, learning, and experiences. We develop leaders, their teams, and organisational culture through learning experiences. We DON’T do workshops.” states Muller-Wieland with contagious energy.
Traditional training and development consultancies focus on learning and sometimes the people. The impact on leaders is hard to track, and you don’t have people running to return to a classroom.
Traditional events companies focus on the experience, but not the learning. People walk away having a good time, but nothing changes. Unthink is the first to bring all three parts together by creating learning experiences.
“Most moments in life are mostly forgettable and occasionally remarkable.” says Muller-Wieland, “So, if we forget most things in life, how do we make those leadership learning moments remarkable?”
This is Unthink’s secret sauce, they use different ingredients to bring the taste alive; mind readers that wow and highlight what are the unsaid things in our organisational culture we see every day and do not speak about; casino events that drive a leader’s exploration of critical decision-making.
Unthink does not simply talk about these things, they immerse leaders in them. Secret Cinema meets Cirque du Soleil.
Unthink was launched during a pandemic. To most, it couldn’t be a worse time to start a business. Muller-Wieland’s resilience and Olympic mindset say it was the perfect time.
“Leadership and organisational culture had never needed more focus”. Big hitter companies such as P&G and SAP felt the same and jumped on the Unthink bandwagon recognising the unique ways Unthink engaged their leaders and the impact it was having.
More impressive partners (clients) followed – from big brands like Apple to the fast-growing tech startups such as Wayve AI (autonomous driving tech), Clarity AI (sustainable tech platform), iTech media, XTX Markets (AI Hedgefund), and many more.
It is, therefore, no surprise that Unthink has doubled in size every year and the future looks bright – the Women-Led accredited business recently became the Winner of the UK (SE) Start-Up Awards 2023 for Management and Business Consultancy – and is growing.
Three-time author and ED&I expert Dr. Adrienne Milner will join the team, responsible for supporting organisations with their policy audits and organisational EDI culture.
Having led Olympic teams for so long and recognising the strength of diversity and differing cultures, Muller-Wieland is excited by this growth and sees it as the single biggest differentiator for the high-performing companies that Unthink partner with.
Muller-Wieland’s infamous Ted Talk the Golden Lines of Failure speaks about whether we like it or not, failures do happen, but that this is just another silver lining from which you can learn and grow.
No one will argue that memories from three Olympic Games are hard to beat, however, it was not going to a fourth Olympic Games that started something unique – Unthink. If life is a series of moments that ’are mostly forgettable and occasionally remarkable’ we might just have witnessed the remarkable.