Discovering what is,
what can be & why

What is… revealing attitudes & beliefs through in-depth research
What can be… facilitating possible futures for brands & places
Why… cascading a shared sense of purpose, through to strategy & action
Why become a purpose-led enterprise? Download our new short e-book:
finding why
finding why

what is

We bring you closer to your market

Close encounters will give you memorable experiences of your customers.
We invite you to observe, listen, join in the conversation.
Discover why people do what they do.
We highlight insights, find key themes. Gather them into stories that often surprise, always make sense.

How can we grow?
What will the market think of our new offering?
What are their unmet needs?

How can we know our market more deeply?
Why is my brand losing ground?

We’re here to answer these kind of questions. To know the market, beyond the numbers. The freedthinkers network generates market insights, that guide next steps & build strategy.

Powerful, aligned cultures create & sustain powerful brands. Many close encounters are dialogues inside an organisation.
We have developed CultureSCAN, to analyse what we hear & see.

What drives your culture? Where are the comparative strengths & weaknesses?
Why is your culture the way it is? And is the context changing?

Why are people drawn to the enterprise? What connects them? What pushes them away?
What are the stories told by insiders? And what what are the stories not told?

brandView analyses how brands are viewed in consumers minds

Awareness: How well do I know you? Are you top of mind, back of mind, or somewhere inbetween?
Affinity: Do I like you? Do I feel close to you? What is our connection & what could it be?
Trust: Can I rely on you? Are you consistent? Will you do what you say?
Territory: Where you are in my world. And where you can be.

Immediately following a close encounters presentation, we recommend an Indaba to work the research. We facilitate a generosity of ideas, that are refined & distilled. Everyone thinks hard & fast in the shared goal to turn insights into opportunities.

How will a mining town thrive, beyond mining?
What can a city region offer to its citizens & the world?

How will biodiversity flourish in an inceasingly crowded world?

We honour the history & potential of places in processes that marry conservation & change.

what can be

When it comes to shared futures, the best way to
create is co-create.

Purpose cascades

Work is a big part of our lives. It should mean more than a paycheck. The purpose cascades is a defined process that develops shared meaning, cascading to big decisions & everyday actions.

purpose: Why the enterprise exists
culture: How purpose flows through to values, visions, and stories
brand: How the brand grows, from the inside out
impact: Winning strategies in action

The purpose cascades is a journey from the source

Growing brands

We define your brand ecosystem with the blend of elements needed to grow & thrive. We help you develop brand strategies & put together systemic brand actions.

what can be
Changing places

Once people of all ages have shared their dreams of place, we need to know which are practical, which are of long-term benefit.

We have adapted the IDEO construct for Human Centred Design:
Desirable: Discovering & synthesizing what people want - their desired futures.
Feasible: How can it be done?
Viable: Will it promote prosperity? Is it net beneficial to society & the environment?

The ideas that fit in the centre of all three are given priority in an interactive process that involves all key stakeholders.
Then who will manage the change? We’ll find the right model, considering your context.

It always seems impossible until it’s done. Nelson Mandela


How organisations form & grow with shared meaning.

We are in a time of deepening social divides & environmental stress.

Enterprises, be they in the private or public sectors, need to be regenerative. To be of net benefit to society & the environment.

We are guides on the journey.
Opening minds to realities.
Opening minds to possibilities.
Then lighting the way.


A day in the life of freedthinkers.

A team in Namibia helps residents figure out the future of their town. A recruiter finds young mothers in the Eastern Cape who will share their thoughts, feelings & experiences around nutrition.

A moderator and notetaker prepare for a dinner with entrepreneurs. A project manager juggles dates, venues & people across four provinces.

Analysts find a network of common themes for a financial service, in a flow of inputs. An editor adds the titles to a series of ethnographic movies, featuring those on the margins of the financial system. A strategist facilitates the development of a new business & brand. A strategist & researcher work with exco exploring purpose & culture.

Founding partner, Pippa Kapelus, designs a process to understand the banking needs & wants of urban youth.
Founding partner, Mike Freedman, develops a newly shared purpose into a worthwhile opportunity

We design processes to answer questions, organise the right teams for the job, then find clarity in the confusion.
Landing 3

our purpose, values & beliefs

Our purpose is opening minds to possibilities.
By looking deeply into what is, by co-creating what can be, we aspire to fulfil this purpose with every assignment.


We care deeply about the work we do, the people we work with, the ongoing vitality of our society and planet.


We believe in the unmatched power of many minds working together to achieve agility & deliver a generosity of ideas.


In these challenging and confusing times, our ultimate value is to offer clients clarity of thought and action.

our clients

These are clients who reward us with repeat business. Thank you all.


We help precincts, towns & cities, in South Africa & beyond, plan for long-term futures.


We make good partners with good partners.
 Amongst them are:

Brand 1
Brand 1
Peter Willis


changing minds

changing places

download freedthinkers CultureSCAN diagnostic here


Cape Town

Mike Freedman


Pippa Kapelus