Living it for decades now, we are the agency model. Yet, ever in flux, "model" is a misnomer. Identifying with so many states at once collectively, as a body, we are not one thing. A singular model cannot encompass all that we are or all that we should become.
Consider our multiple states. At times, we all create and innovate without adequate resources. At the same time, we struggle with our own unwieldy growth and size. We work under the friction and scrutiny of changing business models and fee structures, servicing sometimes more clients than we can handle, yet always chasing more. Under the demands of the day-to-day, we stride to master not only our daily business -- but the greater business of our industry. Getting our arms around changing media consumption, planning across a dizzying diversification of channels and platforms, all under the opportunity and pressure of the new data driven reality -- this is agency life as we know it. It's in our blood.
I get it. I, too, spent years of my life inside the agency world -- navigating spiraling 40-company roll-ups, managing merged regional divisions, working inside holding companies, establishing small specialty firms and indie boutiques. And, like most of you, I wouldn't trade the big lot of it for a single thing. Like the best hard-earned experience, we need it all. We carry it forward.
Yet, we are restless to define that path forward, always. Flip to any page of our living history, and the commentary on the agency business is constant, as industry watchers muse on the model. Still, the agency world itself is its own best assessor. If the challenge before us now is how to "balance" scale, scrappiness, and innovation, one can't help but note that if we craved balance, we probably wouldn't have gotten into the agency business in the first place. Many among us would say that in this community, we have our own special take on "balance."
More than striking an easy rhythm of simple elements, our version of balance is about having it all, striking a completely equipped wholeness, so that our teams may perform and prosper within this high-stakes setting. As agency folk, we are all about applied learning, right? So, the question of our future state becomes how to identify and transport only the most worthy of our collective lessons and experience in order to step up and thrive at our full-blown best.
OK -- so which lessons? There are much weedier deeper dives to be taken here, but if we take a look back at our careers, as well as those of our mentors and predecessors, we can see the future benefit of:
- Making room for big-canvas creative ideas, wherever they originate.
- Understanding that media and creative must work equally as hard. Investing in and empowering both, developing systems and processes to unite them.
- Not only not fearing the math -- but digging it. There's no turning back. Embrace the reciprocal potential of humans meeting machines.
- Reality-checking your resources and proudly partnering where needed. Cooperation in the community benefits the whole.
Industry complexity is constant. But, if we hire and collaborate with people who've spent time in different agency venues, people who experienced the benefits of doing, or consequences of not doing all of the above, we will see that mixed blood and exposure from different vantage points is good for the collective.
We can't be afraid to bring forth to our operating model the strongest, prevailing truths from start-up, corporate, holding company, public, private, indie -- agency life all things great and small. The best possible version of ourselves, a version that is just the right amount of scrappy, innovative and scalable, lies in the combination of timeless truths from over the years we've spent, living the parts that roll up to the very agency collective model we want to become.
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