Putting together the September 2013 Quarterly feature article, “Unemployed to the Big-3,” was both an interesting and challenging article. It follows the new format of the Firmsconsulting Quarterly.

This podcast discusses the lessons you should be taking from this article. The context for those lessons, however, is determined by the way this article was written.

It would have been so easy for the article to have been written as a recap of anecdotal events/lessons we experienced from coaching Irina and the other students. In other words, feel-good stories which sound clever but are based on zero adherence to journalism standards and scientific research protocol. However, such articles are very misleading and damaging. They hurt the very readers we are trying to help.

The Quarterly follows an intense fact-checking model with long-form articles. To do these stories, we have photographers and camera crew on the ground testing the feedback from clients and our own inferences from advising the clients. For example, our team visits a profiled client’s schools, spends a day in their lives and tries to recreate the challenges the client experienced.

For example, if Irina outlines a story about the long queues her mother had to endure to receive her pension, we sent photographers to visit the pension office and corroborate the story. Fanning out across the cities is an intense, tiring but sorely needed process. We visited factories, old restaurants, kindergartens, parks, early work stations etc. You can see for yourself as we photograph everything, visit every site and basically recreate all the anecdotes in the story through the photo essay.

We insist that the advice we provide must be verified. The danger to not doing this is glorifying a story/experience which may not have happened as we assumed it did. Worse, female readers may end up lacking even more confidence if they feel the women profiled achieve more with less. If that happened, we would defeat the very purpose of The Women Premium theme.

From the perspective of leadership analyses, good, researched articles, must avoid descriptive stories. We need to not simply say that we did x,y and z and therefore you can try that as well. We need to go back and test what worked and develop a set of prescriptive solutions. Therefore, we cannot provide a laundry list of what was done, but sift through what was done and explain why the advice which worked, did work. Crucially, we needed a control and preferably in the same or similar cities as these clients, which we did have.

This podcast describes the intense process which goes into researching, writing and verifying the feature article, “Unemployed To The Big-3.”

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