“A screenplay can be written quickly and detective story can be knocked out in three weeks, while no one should spend more than a month on a doctoral dissertation. A novel, however, takes longer”
-Werner Herzog (A Guide To The Perplexed)
Why majority of agencies are doing such a bad job at the moment?
They are slow.
The best young talent goes to start-ups, because the pace is fast and the mentality is about getting things done. Bigger agencies are filled with bureaucracy, internal meetings and all other fluff, which is not what they should be doing.
Agency business is essentially simple and your time should be divided to three parts:
- Figuring things out
- Doing the actual things
- Selling things
Not to say, we could not be much more effective with all of those three things. Everyone is a procrastinator if just given the opportunity. Agencies also have higher proportion of people with general aversion to anything resembling a process, so our ways of working are not as effective as they could be. That is not the main challenge, though.
The bigger problem is that people cannot focus on these three things. When I talk with my colleagues working in different agencies around the world, the common complaint is that there is not enough time to concentrate on the real work. There are too many people who misattribute internal meetings and all the administrative wanking as real work. And unfortunately as the agencies get more bloated, they also hire more dead weight complicating the real work with all the additional layers.
Unwanted bureaucracy, unnecessary administration and too many useless people result to agencies being slow. At the same time they have to rush things that really matter. Start-ups concentrate on what is important and spend adequate time on it. Rest of the stuff can be bashed out quite quickly.
“It was decision-making by committee, some kind of artificial respiration, which certain inbuilt weaknesses. Too many people were slaves to handouts, forever trying to fulfill the wishes of the boardroom, which is why so many of them made only one film, then gave up. They were too busy filling out paperwork”
-Werner Herzog (A Guide To The Perplexed, talking about film subsidies in Western Germany)