Seven Steps To A More Agile Agency

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Information about Seven Steps To A More Agile Agency

Published on March 10, 2014

Author: nkarch



In recent years, both creative agencies and their clients have changed the way they do business. Here are seven steps a creative agency can take to become more efficient, remain relevant and not get left behind. This presentation is based on an earlier blog post I wrote for Adpulp, which you can check out at

SEVEN STEPS TO A MORE AGILE AGENCY Nathan Archambault | | @nkarch

Theoldagencymodelisfacinga forced retirement. Client relationships have splintered. The traditional methods by which agencies profited are shrinking or disappearing. Clients want more effective work and they want it faster and cheaper.

Agencieshaveachoice. Becomemorenimble,flexible andcost-effective... or fade away. If an agency doesn’t adhere to heightened client expectations, its clients will find an agency that does.

It’s time to build a more agile agency. Here’show.

Reduce logistics. Today’s agency doesn’t need the same departments that were once a centerpiece to the creative offering. Maybe that means folding project management into account management. Maybe it means closing your studio and relying more on outside vendors. Every agency is different, but every agency process needs to be looked at, evaluated and simplified however possible. 1

What departments are redundant, outdated or inefficient? Ask your agency:

Operate like a newsroom. It’s time for agencies to get out of the meeting business and get into the making business. The old model has too much overhead, too much process and too many barriers getting in the way of the work. An agency should feel like a living organism with the sole goal of producing great work, and nothing else should matter or get in the way. 2

What can we do to get out of the way of the work? Ask your agency:

Replace perfection with experimentation. In the past, clients demanded perfection. The agencies that delivered it thrived. These days, experimentation returns more on investment. Google launches everything in beta and future updates are expected and (mostly) welcome. The important thing today is to get your product, service or campaign to market. Once people have access to it, gather feedback, revise and repeat. 3

Ask your agency: What can we make today and worry about making better tomorrow?

Hire doers, not thinkers. Agencies used to be able to hire creative teams to sit around and think of big ideas. But teams that lack the craft to build the ideas they come up with aren’t pulling their weight. They’re requiring the agency to hire someone else to execute and bring the vision to life. The jig is up, big thinkers: Being clever and having good taste is no longer a job. 4

Who actually makes things around here? Ask your agency:

Cast for talent. Interpersonal relationships and unique skills matter more than staffing plans. When filling an open position, be open to any creative solution, not just the title you’re looking to fill. An agile agency wants to find people with the right mindset, regardless of whether or how they fit into a particular department. When an agency hires people instead of titles, it can cast for projects, not staff for them. 5

Are we hiring the best people first, and determining their role later? Ask your agency:

Deconstruct the process. Unlike when advertising meant TV and print, each project is different from the last. And it doesn’t make sense to implement the same process for every project. Michael Lebowitz, Founder and CEO of Big Spaceship, gives his teams a framework instead of a process. This allows each team to operate as a mini-agency, bubbling up unique processes that lead to more unique work. 6

Are we finding new paths to the end goal of creativity? Ask your agency:

Integrate every department. The different stages of any given project shouldn’t feel like a baton pass. The brief can’t sit with strategy before being handed off to the creative department before being handed off to production. When strategy, creative and technology work together from the start, each team becomes more invested at every stage of the process. And the end result is a better agency product. 7

Is each team member a stakeholder from the beginning? Ask your agency:

Conclusion As the agency model evolves, the inflexible will be left behind. Maybe you’re not in a position to change the way your agency operates. But there is something you can do. Find an agency that believes in agility and hop on board. That’s exactly what clients are doing.

Nathan Archambault | | @nkarch Thanks

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