For the second time in two months, I found myself announcing to the members of Medinge Group another passing: that of my good friend Tim Kitchin.
Tim passed away over the weekend, and leaves behind three kids.
I always admired Tim’s point of view, his depth of thinking, and his generosity of spirit.
I remember Tim taking notes at my first Medinge meeting in 2002: he drew mind maps. None of this line-by-line stuff. And they worked tremendously well for him.
His brain had a capacity to process arguments and get to the core incredibly quickly, from where he could form a robust analysis of the issues.
But never at any point did Tim use this massive intellect to debase or humour anyone. He used it to better any situation with a reasoned and restrained approach.
Whenever he commented, he did so profoundly. Tim could get across in very few words some complex arguments, or at least open the door to your own thinking and analysis.
In 2003, Tim was one of the authors of Beyond Branding, with a chapter on sustainability (‘Brand Sustainability: It’s about Life … or Death’). Note the year: he was writing about sustainability before some of today’s experts began thinking about it. Prior to that he had co-authored Managing Corporate Reputations (2001).
He wrote a chapter summary for Beyond Branding, which began, ‘Imagine the life of the earth as a single day. In the last 400th of a second of that day we have directly altered 47% of the earth’s land area in the name of commerce and agriculture, but even so, 900 million people are still malnourished, 1.2 billion lack clean water and 2 billion have no access to sanitation.
‘We cannot take it for granted that governments will suddenly acquire the clarity[,] insight and commonality of belief to see a process of renovation to its end. Unless we accept our joint and several liability for this future and begin to address the sustainability of all human systems, we stand little chance of tackling the most complex system of all—our symbiosis with spaceship earth … destination unknown … arrival time yet to be announced.
‘Against this apocalyptic backdrop, how does a 60 year-old global CEO promise a bright future and possibly a pension to his 16 year-old apprentice, or any future at all to the ten year-old enslaved employees of his suppliers’?
‘How does he create a sustainable future for his organisation and those to whom it has made explicit or implicit promises? He must start by building a sustainable brand.’
You can see the sort of thinking Tim exhibited in the above, and as I got older the more I realized how ahead of the curve he was. The problems that he writes about remain pressing, and his solutions remain relevant. Presented in language we can all understand, they introduce complex models, much like his mind maps.
He had a real love of his work and a belief that organizations could be humanistic and help others.
He certainly lived this belief. Tim was with us at Medinge till the end of 2014, and went on to other projects, including directing Copper, a digital fund-raising and marketing agency. He was also helpful to a Kiwi friend of mine who arrived in the UK in 2016—Tim was generous to a fault.
With the world in such confusing turmoil, Tim still sought solutions to make sense of it all and posted to social media regularly.
And despite whatever he was going through himself, he had a real and constant love for his children.
Tim had an enduring spirituality and he believed in an afterlife, so if he’s right, I’ll catch up with him at some stage. By then hopefully we’ll have made a little bit more sense of this planet. As with Thomas, who passed away in December (in Tim’s words, ‘Horrid news to end a horrid year’), I’ll miss him heaps and the world will be far poorer without him.
PS.: I have the details of Tim’s service and burial from a mutual friend, Peter Massey.
As I guessed, it will be at All Saints’ Church in Biddenden (TN27 8AJ). The date and time are Thursday, February 2 at 2 p.m.
There will be a reception afterwards at the Bull in Benenden (TN17 4DE).
Nearest train stations are Headcorn and Staplehurst on the line from Charing Cross, Waterloo East and London Bridge. Local taxi firm MTC is on +44 1622 890-003.
Peter has offered help with travel and accommodation (via Facebook) so I can relay messages if need be. He has posted on Tim’s Facebook wall if any of you are connected there.—JY