Written by Anthony King
As agencies, we love to win new business and do great work.
The more business we win and the better our work, the better we position ourselves to grow. However, how we work is just as important in this equation. The Art of New Business realise this, and kicked off a new series of breakfast talk events looking at modern ways to grow an agency. The first of this series, held at Publicis Media in London, focused on the topic of People Innovation – the secret to agency growth.
The talk given by Lesley Donnelly of Neon Nelly, busted myths, challenged perceptions and highlighted a number of fascinating ideas that I believe we need to continue to think about to grow from here, and in the future. Here is my take on some of these ideas:
1. The future belongs to start-ups
The ability to shift and shape to client needs has always been a start-up’s advantage. And will be an even greater advantage in the future as the market for start-ups grows. Consistency of people from pitch to process, through to product delivery, and to do it at speed will also play a huge part of value propositions. However, larger agencies need not be at a disadvantage in this area. The ability to retain or adopt a start–up culture by working in hub-like teams with fluid collaboration, creating self-organising networks and having an obsession with customer value will also be defining factors.
2. Innovation is not an idea
“The flying app-controlled interactive experience was our idea.” Maybe. But innovation is not an idea. Innovation is an exceptional idea plus it’s execution that also creates value. We have to get past the belief that ideas are where the value is. As the world becomes more connected and ideas float to the surface daily, execution will separate the big boy trousers from the pull-ups. And change in and of itself is not a destination, change is a capability. The value of our innovations for clients and their customers is what will make all the difference.
3. Work and learn simultaneously
Deadlines move, budgets change and stuff happens. Working and learning simultaneously will need to become the new normal if agencies are going to survive the future and grow. Hint: As Richard Branson once said “If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later.”
4. Thou shalt not kill
We already have all the talent we need to do remarkable work. So here’s a thought: rather than putting as much time and energy as we do into finding and recruiting new talent, why not find new ways to empower the people we already have. What would happen if we allowed people to work without job descriptions for a certain period of time (or forever) and simply said, “Be the best you, and do what the best you would do – just don’t kill anyone.” The truth is, often by restricting some of our brightest people to work defined by job descriptions, we can restrict their abilities and their growth, and in turn the growth of our agencies.
4. Don’t feed the HIPPO
There is an animal we have to starve, and potentially kill. The HIPPO. It stands for the (Hi)ghest (P)aid (P)erson’s (O)pinion. Which in room full of people, or when major decisions need to be made the HIPPO often carries the most weight (pardon the pun). Yet there are many other ways to make decisions, such as our data, and collective team wisdom. Here’s an idea: Next time you need to make a big decision, ask the lowest paid person what they think about it. Their perspective and answer may very well spark an idea you may not have thought of.
The Art of New Business breakfast talk series exploring modern ways to grow an agency are running throughout 2017. So if winning new business and the growth is even a blip on your agency radar then secure yours
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