Tag Archives: process

Agencies Are Slow

“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)

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How To Conduct An Effective Meeting?

I don´t like meetings.

They go overtime, everyone is late, and no one is listening but instead just playing with their smartphone. Every agency has certain amount of personnel, whose sole purpose is to book pointless status update meetings. Usually they are the people who don´t have to do the actual worh. These meetings are just a way to secure their ass and tick some imaginary milestone on calendar.

My work is to think and present that thinking, not to sit in pointless meetings going same things over and over again. Unfortunately the more people you have with opinion in the meeting room, the less effective your marketing will be. The same applies to all the revision rounds.

Advertising seldom is a democracy. It is war of the ideas, where every opinion is not equal. You have to fight for the ideas, until you win or lose.

There is a need for meetings and good ideas can come from anywhere. The problem comes when you try to fix all the issues in one single meeting. There are times when you have to make decisions and when you have to come up with ideas. To try to do both things at the same time is lunacy.

So what you need to do is to only have two different types of meetings (and never ever confuse these two):

  1. Getting sh*t done -meetings (15-30 minutes)

This is project management with tight leash: tight agenda, tight timeline and total army discipline. Deciding on stuff on max. 30 minutes, preferably less. Clear leader for the meeting and limited opportunity to voice your concerns. The goal of this meeting is to make sure that the project is on timeline, right track and all the practicalities are taking cared. No joking around, you can really feel the pressure on this meeting. If someone starts brainstorming throw him with an apple, pen or whatever comes handy in the meeting room. If he continues, use more severe methods. Time is ticking, so shut up.

  1. Getting sh*t figured out –meetings (2-4 hours)

Call it brainstorming, kicking around the idea or ideating. This can take the whole day and it does not have to happen in boring meeting room. Get somewhere else to let the creative juices flow. Talk about it over lunch or over a drink. In these meetings every opinion has a value and the timeline is more relaxed. You still have a goal for the meeting, but it builds up gradually.

If you follow this construct when doing meetings, you will be much happier and more effective person in workplace.

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