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How to change your agency

Most agencies can no longer keep up with the constant change hurtling at them – except now it’s new kind of change.
Oh the irony, even change is changing!

Change is nothing new but it used to be evolutionary in nature and therefore relatively predictable. It was painful and required iron-will and maybe a bloody-minded approach to push through. But it wasn’t hard to see into the future, not at all.

Not anymore, change is disruptive, violent and takes no prisoners. Witness the fall of Microsoft and the PC – replaced with cheap chinese made tablets … in less than 3 years. It’s great deal harder to predict what’s coming down the pipe and how that might intersect with other technologies and trends. Or how Spotify and iTunes changed the music industry. Or Netflix. Internet-of-things, anyone?

Change management is now one of the most important processes in any agency. Most companies understand this and are embarking on aggressive change plans – the same cannot be said of many agencies. Despite sitting centre stage and with the digital maelstrom whipping at them – the stubbornness to change is clear to see.

Even for those that do, they employ a conventional change management approach, more to do with risk management, rearguard actions and evolution and less about the act of change itself. This might have worked until a few years ago but control of change is now an illusion.

The power of change is now in the hands of the consumer, they are the ones driving the changing relationships. Rather than trying the manage the unpredictable nature of an aggressive controlling way, consider going with the flow. Encouraging the skills required to adapt quickly, we are better placed to spot opportunities and challenges early enough and with enough motivation to morph into what’s required.

We’ve successfully employed an agile-driven approach to everything we do over the last few years and, in hundreds of ways, it’s empowered our clients, partners and staff to contribute to what we do, how and why. Leading by example, we engender a unorthodox attitude that helps to liberate us from convention. We challenge accepted norms and live (and die) on the mantel of continuous improvement.

Sounds like bullshit? We realised that the world is no longer standing still and we built ourselves around adaption – not resistance. It might sound risky, it may seem disorganised and a waste of resource – but the alternative is to glide (maybe not so gently) into the ground at 500mph, a victim of the changing world.

We’ve been around for 17 years and fully intend to get through the next 17 and be around in 2031? That excites me, and the team.

By Martin Dower