Overcome the fear

I answered a question the other day on Quora: How can you change the culture of an advertising agency? And this has developed into a discussion about some simple things that agencies can start to do to set them on the path of cultural change.

My original answer was as follows:

The culture of an agency is about the people and how engaged they are in what they do – I think the reason we see this sort of question, and all the talk about agencies in general transforming is a fear among those who are getting left behind.
We hear very little from agencies who are performing in the market today because they are focussed on their work.
The above two answers are both correct – it isn’t so much about changing the culture as having the right people organised in the right way – there are two axes that need focus:
i) Skillset: In the new media / web 2.0 world it isn’t enough to think TV & print, you really have to think about communications, channel and messaging – a hard act for some who might not have the analytical strength here. Getting the right people in the right role is key.
ii) Organisation: Silos are dead and gone – ideas can and do come from anywhere and will only be good when we get everyone working on the same challenge. Build multi-function teams with different skillsets and responsibilities to focus on the challenges.

The conversation revolved around what do these two points really mean, and how do we go about applying them in practice.

Adapting the overall skillset & Creating the organisational structure

New roles and skillsets need to be brought into the organisation, but they can’t simply be placed alongside the existing capabilities or this will create people who cannot speak to each other so we need to both bring people from outside the business and also find ways to integrate them within our existing teams – place a media planner within the strategic planning group, or add a digital creative into the core team who develop ideas.

The majority of anxiety around this subject comes from the fear of not understanding where we are going – there are only two real solutions to this: either go out and gain the knowledge or put your trust in someone who has it.

What have your experiences of changing culture been?

By Lex Bradshaw-Zanger

A digital native and integrated brand marketer with a passion for marketing-communications and product design, Lex has a truly international outlook and experience, having worked both in major marketing agencies and client-side brands across Europe, the US and the Middle East.

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