Saturday, June 5, 2010

Part 4: Setting a vision that will inspire people

As a Creative Director, it is important that you have a clear idea of where you want to take the agency - and to disseminate that vision amongst the troops.

A vision will help bring focus to the whole department.

More importantly, a vision allows you to impart your beliefs and expectations to the whole team. It is extremely important in terms of setting the groundwork for how people should work together – and also in building a culture which will bind your people as a single unit.

It is imperative you set your team objectives so that they have a clear target to aim for. And if the objectives are tough, and even beyond what they think is possible, you will create such a buzz in the department, the momentum will keep the agency going for years.

One of Leo Burnett’s quotes has always struck me as a good example of this philosophy. It reads: “Always aim for the stars. You may not quite get there, but you’ll never come up with a handful of mud.”

It is the Creative Director’s job to make the creative people feel as if they can actually reach those stars.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when setting a vision:

1. Where is the agency now? 

Is it performing well or performing badly? How well does it do in new business? How many awards does it win? Does it have a good reputation? Is the morale high or low? Does it have the best talent in town? What’s its relationship with clients? Do people feel proud working there?

It’s important to work out where the agency is currently so that you can keep the positive aspects intact and then understand what negative elements you need to change or eliminate.

An agency I took over was rife with politics, had underperformed at the award shows, was losing clients at an alarming rate and had a bucket shop culture. By putting these issues down on paper, I was able to get everyone to agree that this wasn’t where we wanted to be as an agency.

2. Where do we want the agency to be? 

Now that we’ve worked out where we don’t want the agency to be, we can start to work out where we do want it to be.

Do you want it to be the No. 1 agency in town? In the region? In the network? Do you want the best creative profile? The best talent? Do you want to have a better new business record? Do you want to improve the work on bread and butter accounts? Or focus on the two or three clients that are more creatively oriented? Do you want it to be seen as the agency that is leading the way in social network marketing?

Once you’ve worked out where you want the agency to be you have a plan. Having a plan gives you more than half a chance of succeeding. It gives you a direction. And when there’s a direction, there’s a much better chance of reaching your destination and achieving your goals.

3. How do you get there? 

Having worked out what you want to achieve, it’s now critical you put in place action points that will help you get there.

For instance, if you want to get the best talent in town working for your agency, you need to fire people who are under-performing to make way for them. If you want to create the best profile in the business, you need to put a PR strategy in place that gives you exposure in the press. It may even require you hiring a full time communications manager. And if you want to be seen as a leader in social network marketing, then you need to hire people who can help you make that happen – and retool the best of your existing people with the relevant skills.

What’s more, when it comes to writing your action points, be clear and concise. Don’t write: “We need to improve our creative talent.” That’s too wishy washy.

Instead write: “We need to fire our mediocre talent and hire the best talent in the market.”

There’s no escaping what you need to do with an action point like that.

4. What culture do you want for the agency? 

It’s important to let people know how you want to work and the practices you expect people to follow. Some Creative Directors like a culture of individualism. Others prefer a culture of teamwork.

Here is the culture and ideals I have tried to instill as a Creative Director.

1. We don’t tolerate politics

2. We encourage transparency, honesty and integrity

3. We share ideas with others and expect them to share their ideas with us

4. We accept criticism in order to improve our work

5. We approach every job with optimism, enthusiasm and passion

6. We chase big ideas. And never give up until we’ve caught them

7. We promote team work over individualism

8. We engage in constructive competition within the department

9. We create big ideas

When the right attitude and work ethic permeates through an agency, there’s no ceiling to the heights it can reach.

No comments:

Post a Comment