We Got Agencied
A while back I was invited to take on a new project by a client partner I’ve worked with for several years. It was an assignment that had already been begun by an agency.
When I asked what happened with the previous provider, the CEO stated, “We got agencied. So we let them go.”
The CEO went on to explain that the agency that worked on the project tried to fit the company’s needs into the agency’s process. That’s all he needed to say for me to understand the decision.
We’ve seen it time and time again. An agency or consultant develops what they believe is a bullet-proof process that, again they believe, solves a particular problem from a one-size-fits-all mindset. And they work to squeeze the round peg of their client’s world into the square hole of their process.
It works until it doesn’t. These processes fail when the challenge is either complex or unique to the client’s world.
While I’ve got nothing against applying processes in the right situations, experience has taught me that a stringent process doesn’t solve complex problems. Nor does it create innovative solutions.
Solving business problems and creating actionable strategies is hard, complex, and sometimes messy. Processes work great in production lines, manufacturing, accounting, and marketing flows.
But a process can never replace the roll up your selves and think different approach that most strategy and innovation requires. And, a process is highly unlikely to shape a differentiated product, a brand evolution, or create a people-first organization.
Here’s the truth, most processes are designed for predictable results that come from a predictable set of inputs. If everything is predictable, a process tends to work if you follow the recipe. But, you know that’s unrealistic when it comes to breaking new ground in your brand, culture, and business strategies.
So, what’s the alternative?
I’m a believer in and practitioner of frameworks. Frameworks (or scaffolding) act as a set of guides, gates, and junctures that allow for deep and meaningful explorations of complex problems. There are many great frameworks that exist and I’ve created a handful that I use in my consulting practice.
Here’s an example.
One framework I created years ago when working with teams is the People-First Effectiveness Framework. This framework works to determine how to analyze and improve the team or individual effectiveness. It uses “Appetite, Capacity, and Skillset” as an assessment of where issues lie in helping teams and individuals become more effective in the work at hand.
Some other great frameworks:
- BHAG framework, created by Jim Collins in the book Built to Last.
- Blue Ocean Strategy and Positioning framework.
- SWOT analysis framework.
- Agile Innovation framework.
Ultimately, if you want to solve deep and complex problems in your business (and who doesn’t), get to know how those you consider working with approach these problems. Not all partners or vendors are alike. Those that address the unique needs of your business into their approaches tend to be partners, rather than vendors.
Three invitations for you:
- I love knowing you’re enjoying these insights and stories. After all, they’re written to add value to your world. So, I invite you to take a moment hit reply with a quick comment.
- I also love hearing how you’re using these ideas in your leadership teams, so please let me know.
- And, if there’s a topic that I haven’t written on that you’d like to hear my take on, feel free to share it.
Steve can help you create an integrated belief-driven business that can reach and align with more of the right people —employees, customers, donors and investors—in a sustainable and meaningful way.