New Ways of Working, Mean Rethinking Talent

One of the last components of building an agency model that supports your agency’s model are the actual people that work within your agency. It’s not all about what type of project manager you have in your agency that supports one process or another, it’s what type of people you have in your agency that can also support and be a part of your agency model.

A lot of the value an agency can provide to a client is based on the people in the agency. This is where ideas, speed, innovation, and technical know-how comes from. 

Many of the old structures in the agency were focused on creating advertising ideas, the same way many digital agencies were focused on just building websites. Neither model is built to churn out business building ideas. 

As an industry, we’ve seen the needle move in all directions, away from long-term campaigns to short-term measurement, to a fragmentation of client asks that we are being asked to solve, but don’t always have the right players in the agency to handle.

So defining the agency model is not just about culture and process, its about looking at what we need to rework, reinvent and relinquish as the types of people we need to have and work with in the agency.

What does the new client services team look like in the new agency model? If we collapse the layers of account management in an agency, where can they provide the best value? Do they need to become integrated in their thinking as well? Can a new version of account directors focus solely focus on initial engagements, or can they elevate the marketing thinking of a client on a whole new level that never existed before?

On this site, we use the word “creatives” very loosely. The creative function has seen the most redefinition on the digital side, but is there still more learning that can be done to redefine the role of what it is to be creative in an agency? Are we loosing our ability to write big ideas at the expense of writing editorial content? 

In the old agency model, creative directors played a large role in determining what to say, but should they play an even larger part in helping to determine where and how creative and messaging can be delivered.

Do we need more artists, feature like-directors makers of things, and storytellers in our agency that can help us expand into nontraditional media channels? Are we missing out on creative and creative production opportunities because the media channels themselves are becoming a large part of the brand building experience? 

Which leads us to redefining the media function of an agency. How we reach audiences, what channels and where we engage with consumers has changed dramatically. What does your agency need to be at the table in these discussions and to push the media envelope?

On the interactive side there is still a hesitancy for technology to exist outside of traditional creative ideation. Everything is digital, and we are in the land of making things that now require a digital component. Your interactive folks are makers as much as your agency producers are.

User experience has also grown into areas such as service experience, customer and retail experience, and will also continue to evolve in new ways. Who you choose to be on your team and in your agency will not only define your success in your work, but help enrich other parts of your life.

I think there is a natural tendency for most of us to pick a team or to join a team with people who have similar backgrounds or strengths. While we find comfort in doing so, it doesn’t push us to see beyond our own biases, helps us learn new perspectives or expands our abilities. Having a broad range of skill-sets and expertise is what helps the team to quickly tackle projects, new ideas or evolve our own thinking.

Having a unified vision, where everyone understands the same values, ethics and collaboration commitment doesn’t mean you kill diversity of thinking. I appreciate the fact that I can listen to others, hear their viewpoints and expertise, so that I can move forward in my thinking. 

But as an agency and as in teams, we need to remind ourselves that as we grow or form new teams, that we need the full spectrum of personality types. 

You can be an agency of one, two, five, a 100 or 1000. 

While it may often seem like you need a lot of people to run and operate a creative firm. The truth is that its not the case. I think everyone in an agency brings at least on of the five top skills I think you need to run an agency.

  • For me, my top skills / roles that are needed to run a creative firm;
  • Can you find a client and maintain the relationship?
  • Can you understand their business and business problems?
  • Can you come up with an idea to address the problem?
  • Can you execute that idea?
  • Can you ensure that you get paid for it and stay profitable?

That’s all that creative firms need when you think about it. Your organization can do this as one person or 150 — it doesn’t matter as long as you continue to do those five things well.

What makes your agency unique is the way you hire for these different skill sets and the diversity of thinking around those skill sets. The more well-rounded you are, the higher the ability to meet those challenges.

This means hiring talent that has transferable skills;

  • The ability to think both analytically and creatively
  • An interest in constant learning
  • Drive, ability to work independent and within teams
  • Creative judgement, the ability to articulate opinions
  • Entrepreneurship and a business sense
  • The ability to collaborate and communicate effectively