Author Archive | Jeremy Hill
Years ago in agency life I was in a pitch for a piece of inter-galactically large business. It brought together people from all seven continents. Rehearsals, refine, rehearsals, updates. A super slick pitch. Everyone knew their bit to the nearest minute. Our pitch proposition – “We are jazz not classical – we can ad-lib, flex around your needs as a client” …. The client loved it – so much so that 20 minutes into the 2 hour pitch they said “Great – we get it. Lets try and do it now. How do we reach small business owners? – 5 groups of 5. We can catch up again in 45 minutes and see how we all got on”. The true horror of Jazz had emerged.
What was fantastic was the client (no surprise – a tech business) realised that doing would be a far better way of finding out about us than us describing…. and they called it.
How do we learn, especially when things keep changing? The key is to “do” as quickly as possible
Not being afraid of the unknown. Not trying to create the perfect answer. Having the confidence to realise that there is no perfect answer will get you most of the way there and at that point you will be in the unknown again but moving firmly forwards.
So onto a favourite chap of mine, Benjamin Bloom. A mid century psychologist who held a belief that learning was not so much about content – but how we matched what we wanted to learn and do with how we learnt it. I like to think Benjamin would have let out a cheer in that pitch and probably referred to this as Mastery Learning.
In a nutshell he broke things into 5 states each one being a higher order that builds on the previous. Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning.
1. Describe -Describe, tell, list, find name, what is it?
2. Understand – Explain, discuss, demonstrate, interpret
3. Apply – Use, complete, solve
4. Analyse – Recognise trends, identify issues
5. Evaluate – Judge, defend, choose, select
6. Create – Modify, use old concepts to create the new
The exciting stage is when people to start to move up to phase 3 – Doing. Its a word that comes up time and time again when people talk about success in changing markets. If one can move between apply and analyse and back to apply seamlessly, you’re really starting to change culture and approach.
Doing is tough, it takes time. Its not necessarily the most comfortable thing. As we all know it is far easier to sit round a table describing our worlds to each other. It is when we “do” that we really get the “Ahhhhhh – I see”. The challenge for many businesses is how they get people to apply the knowledge, the things we read about, the people we talk to – see if it works – not be worried if it doesn’t at first, but at least start to get up on your feet.
You are sitting at your desk and are told you are on training next week. Survival skills. Really? You go, you listen, you may drift a little. You may have a meeting with a customer which you prioritise, which means you miss the session altogether and hope (or not) to go on the next one.
Let’s wind back. All company meeting, big boss is giving a state of the nation and then announces something. You are all going to be sent individually to a desert island. You are going to need to be self sufficient. Some of you may find the going too much (think Hunger Games for the suited …) but he is going to arrange some survival skills training for you. Provide you the skills you need. Do you attend your survival skills training? Listen? Try to understand?
The point being some training really sticks and starts to create the expected behaviour change and some just becomes a nice day out of the office?
For the latter the most common issue is lack of challenge. Training in itself is not some strategic objective for a business but a tool to realise some other goal. Building skills to achieve something that is difficult at present. The key is “Achieve Something”.
So what’s a good challenge? What would it look like?
2. Litte bit uncomfortable
3. Valuable to the business
4. Have a timescale on it
5. Come from the top
“You are going to have to present back to the board in the new year on the future of interactive technology and how it will affect us? – We’ll make sure you get the training on the interactive tech side”
“Within a month I need everyone to update their clients and customers on programmatic and data and what we are doing. There is some training scheduled for those who would like to know what we are doing in that space”
“The Big Cheese wants us to be more open with our customers and involve them in how we get to the answer. He wants ideas and models for how this could work by next month. He’s given you a training budget of £10,000 for you and a team of 5 – you choose team and what training you need”
Support without challenge is the day out training, challenge without support is just a very stressful and lonely place. When the two circles cross – you can really feel the excitement and energy.
Pop Quiz. So you think you know your agencies? But do you know (or can you remember) where they came from?
I just found this great table in Hamish Pringle and Jim Marshall’s book Spending Advertising Money in the Digital Age which shows who was created when the main agencies split off their media departments in the 90s. I know for one I did creative agency to media dependent to media agency without even changing desks.
So the wheels of 2014 are firmly rolling (we even sorted the HK site!). After a flying 2013 the time has come to get some more help and so it’s great news that Phil Dearson from the Tribal Exec has joined up. Last year we continued to work with the likes of SKY, ASOS, McDonald’s, as well as the RAB, Expedia and the mighty MEC. Encouraging curiosity. Creating the confidence to have a snoop round and not allowing people to be intimidated by it all.
Learning and development remains the focus for us and it’s fantastic that we are starting to run open courses from this quarter. The Action Planning programmes have added real traction for clients who are looking to build on the momentum and want to get things moving internally and get broader involvement. The penny has now dropped with most organisations that it’s not what you know – but how one approaches and navigates the new.
So three cheers for curiosity (and one for Phil). More to follow ….
Will digital agencies continue to exist
What are they and what is their value proposition? Super clued up on technology? Spot a trend a mile off? Do the things your current agencies can’t do in terms of building and delivering or as Mark Cridge recently wrote in his piece Are digital agencies the new dinosaurs? more open and forward thinking in how technology remains relevant to people.
We forget that they evolved in a world without natural predators, which is why they grew so quickly and so were able to be broad. As the ad, comms, PR, media, CRM, BTL agencies start to really tool up and get what is going on, there isn’t just one predator now but many and they know their discipline as well as which platform it sits on.
The final threat to digital agencies is that more and more of them are finding that the continual change in technology means that having specific disciplines on their books isn’t commercially viable and so start to out source production and build. Which grows the production market.
So you are now left with the idea and approach. If we had a room of the industry’s finest and someone said “probably the most important bit” everyone would nod rather wisely, but ask them who gets paid for their ideas, without any kind of execution underwriting their fees and it would be small.
Unfortunately businesses aren’t great for paying for ideas and the getting someone else to execute and as “non digital agencies” are very good at the idea and able to outsource the execution quite openly, it will continue to squeeze the digital agencies.
I continue to believe “digital” is too broad to be given to one supplier and as such I think many of the digital agencies will disappear. Some will die, some will be picked up and turned into departments, but I’d like think there are some who would drop their digital flags be confident of their skills they have picked up and turn and charge the big guys again.
Latest “Next Generation Media” from Aegis. Oddly enough trying to find relevant up to date stats is more difficult than you may think. Makes good reading
Looking at how digital technology can truly integrate into an organisation, one model that I came across was the business canvas which has been developed by the guys at Business Model Hub – a community and rattle bag of what appears to be some very smart and open people.
The model maps out key organisational components – value on the right and operational efficiency on the left. Money in vs money out. Value proposition in the middle. Great.
Couple of things came out. Firstly how does or could digital add value or efficiency into each area. Starting on the right.
Who are our current customer segments. Normally we define them by how we reach them. Young men who eat 4 bags of crisps, like to go out with their mates and are thinking about buying a car, are invariably distilled down to 18-24 year old men as that’s the only size brush you have to paint with. With digital we can get into community areas, passion groups … and reach them.As Clay Shirky said
“Tools that provide simple ways of creating groups lead to new groups, […] and not just more groups but more kinds of groups.”
What is the nature of your relationship with your customer? Just sell to them? Ask them? Involve them? Meet them afterwards and talk to their friends
This is really where most head resource gets used and most money spent. Which are the usual channels to reach our usual customers, So fairly easy, how are you using (getting excited about) digital to reach your customers.
I won’t go the whole way across the canvas, but you get the idea. How are we engaging our resource? assets? people? Suppliers?
As you go through the exercise you realise that where digital technology really comes into it own is to start to facilitate and link boxes, that don’t historically get linked. Using suppliers as a channel? Customers as a resource? New relationships through how we change activities? but some great work comes out when you link them up (I’m a huge fan of arrows and turning them round and thinking – “What would that look like”
Trendwatching.com show this perfectly when they look at how the canvas can describe emerging models.
.. but its the organisational effect that is very exciting. How do you decentralise digital thinking? How do you get your people and customers empowered and involved? That’s where the opportunity of mapping out really helps.
The first 10minutes of this great video from Best Buy nails the point of how if done well, technology really starts to break down the inter-departmental boxes.
1. Getting customers to review your advertising
2. Suppliers to act as a route to market
3. Your team to develop your product
This isn’t new, but what I thought was great was that it gave a framework to engage an organisation and to map out value and actions. Planned brilliance vs an occasional cry of “Ureka” coming from the ghetto.
As always any feedback would be more than welcome.
The annual JWT 2011 trend report, which is always informative and great that they share it. Thanks
Have just seen this video, which is just amazing, on the GE site. Am trying to think of some tenuous link with the last post over “visualisation” but in reality I just think its great and should be watched.