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5 areas to get right for improved agility and 1 big reason to care

Posted by March 11, 2014
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In marketing, ‘agility’ once referred to particularly swift actions and decisions. Increasingly, ‘agility’ is synonymous with ability. Concerns over real-time and agility lead the CEO of Victor & Spoils, John Winsor, to write this piece for Digiday: 5 reasons brands are cutting agencies.

Here are 5 tips, or points of consideration, that might help.

1: Communication

The costs of day long meetings and pre-meeting meetings are well known. You should be just as cautious of email; use it sparingly.

Try collaborative, bite sized, speedier systems as a way to compliment (not replace) your email. Google+ is a surprising contender here and I recommend Blonde’s 2013 post on how they use it as an example. There are alternatives, Microsoft bought Yammer for a reason; it’s good. The catch? You need senior staff to use it and I’ll cite Bob Lord tagging his tweets with #yam as an example of what good looks like. Lord may have moved on to AOL but last year you could see him actively sharing his discoveries in real-time with his agency.

2: Culture

It’s hard to change culture but important to do so. Change only happens when it is top down and bottom up at the same time.

I’ve found the key to culture change is being prepared to reward effort rather than success and being willing to talk about failure. There can be no room for the blame game if positive culture changes are to happen.

It may cost money but I have first-hand experience of initiatives like DigitasLBi’s rave night and the Summer of Love and know the cultural benefits they bring.

3: Structure

Dangling hierarchies are not agile. Staff must be able to make decisions and take actions. Whenever a decision needs to be checked by a more senior member of staff then that’s a delay. A real skill is knowing when such a delay is necessary. Risk-shy organisations almost always favour delay over speed and, ironically, this increasingly creates risk.

Netflix’s Reinvented HR presentation is the widespread example here and for good reason. It touches on issues like culture and pay but in essence describes a company structure that allows agile work to happen.

4: Awareness

Just as culture and structure are closely linked so are communications and awareness. In today’s digital and always-on world no agency can afford to wait for the client email that asks, ìWhat did you do about… ?î

Agencies, increasingly, need to be like newsrooms. All staff should have two or more monitors. Tweetdeck should be running in at least one. Google Alerts and RSS readers like The Old Reader and need to be open. Knowledge of data filtering tools like IFTTT, Zapier or Yahoo Pipes should be a job requirement.

5: Expert

Brands need to work with experts. Agencies that act as a proxy layer between their clients and third party experts are simply in the way unless they can co-ordinate with such skill and efficiency that they improve agility.

Equally, agencies must be able to offer up expertise themselves. CMOs have talked publicly about their frustration in dealing with ill-fitting ‘cross digital’ middle managers. There is no doubting the roles of client service or project management but service experts must not be locked away as delivery layers sitting behind a wall of delay.

To facilitate this agencies need to reward and recognise expertise. It should be more than possible to have a career by being an expert.

Agree? Agility, despite being important, is still hotly debated. It will just take a few agile seconds to leave some pro-tips in the comments below.

About the author: Andrew Girdwood is DigitasLBi’s Media Innovations Director and a digital marketing geek.

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