Organizational Growth: Evolve or Be Left Behind

Evolution is a natural part of all living things and organizations. Over time people, plants, technology, organizations, and societies evolve. We are always adapting to our surroundings. As a business, we are constantly adapting to the needs and wants of our consumers and clients. In the marketing and advertising world, this evolution has been expedited significantly by the increase in technological innovation over the past decade.

“75% of our revenue comes from stuff Don Draper would not recognize” - WPP CEO Martin Sorrell

The advertising business has evolved, and will continue to. Amid national newsworthy scandals (Pespi) and successes (Fearless Girl), there are strong calls to change some of the most ingrained practices, such as pitching practices and agency-brand relations.

Advertisers and markets should welcome these changes as they provide new opportunities for differentiation. Organizations making cutting edge content are adopting new practices, embracing new technology and taking well calculated risks which are affording them increased prestige, name recognition and success.

These leading agencies are able to create successful, culturally relevant work because their organizations possess the necessary skills and capabilities to innovatively execute their ideas. Banner ads and billboard have a place, but they will not get you an invite to Cannes. Simply put: An organization with outdated skills will not be able to produce leading work.

Thus, it is imperative all agencies - whether ahead, behind, or stuck somewhere in the middle - create actionable plans to work towards their goals. And since every agency has different constraints (cultural, budgetary, geographic, etc.), each requires a different approach to growth.

  1. The first step is determine your agencies current skills and capabilities through in-house or third party surveys and interviews.
  2. Next, an organization must set goals and expectations for the future. What work do we want to be doing in one, five, ten years?
  3. Third, an organization must design an appropriate plan to address discrepancies between the current state of talent and the desired future state.

Here at smith & beta, we recommend growing with mostly existing talent. Hiring outside talent is expensive, time consuming and risky. Besides, you hired your talent for a reason didn’t you?

Once you understand your talents current strengths and weaknesses, you can design a path forward. This progression could take on many different shapes depending on the needs of your organization. However, the most successful approaches involve agency wide educational initiatives. For instance, in order to incorporate the latest technology or platform feature into a pitch, the team must thoroughly understand the use of, and practices surrounding, the emerging idea. To develop this understanding across teams, departments, and levels of seniority, agencies should commit to agency wide learning opportunities.

Nothing in nature can sustain and grow on its own; and businesses are not any different.  If your organization is struggling to keep pace in a specific field, such a prototyping or pitching digital ideas, you should bring in experts to help lead workshops on the activity. For an organization to grow to its full potential, it must: recognizing its weaknesses, develop a plan to address shortcoming, utilize expert teachers, and take education seriously.

And who knows, maybe that workshop will provide your team with the necessary skills to make work worthy of a Cannes invitation.

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