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Industry leaders share why they are choosing change in 2022.
The pandemic has turned every aspect of life on its head, leaving uncertainty as the only constant of the past two years. Yet, it has served as a once in a lifetime opportunity to reflect and reassess, seeing Change become top of the consumer and employee agenda.
For the industry, change is here to stay; be it in ways of working, the great resignation, in how we find creative inspiration or how we address larger societal issues like the climate crisis.
Ahead of the new year, with all of this in mind we’ve asked industry leaders to share their own stories of change. Be it big impactful shifts or small commitments for the future, change is at the heart of everything but only some changes will stick. This is why we are launching a new series asking industry leaders one thing they are committed to doing differently in 2022 and why?
The one thing we have committed to doing differently in 2022 at Ogilvy, is being open to do everything differently.
If the pandemic has taught us anything positive it is that what we once thought was ‘fixed’ is in fact fluid and that we are all (as individuals and as organisations) far more adaptable and open to change than any of us probably imagined. The impact of this knowledge is that it has given us the confidence at Ogilvy to really re-evaluate how and why we do things and ask ourselves; does that lead to better creative work? Will that make our employees happier and more fulfilled? Is there a better way? Everyone in the agency has been encouraged to throw ideas into the pot and this has fostered a spirit of openness, and willingness to experiment, which is being manifested in lots of different ways.
We ripped out the desks on our second floor and turned it into an adaptable collaborative working space called the Yolk. Our ECD Jules has been a huge driver of changing the way we tackle briefs by creating cross-discipline squads working in intensive two-day sprints to harness the cognitive diversity of our people. We are inviting clients in to join these squads and turning pitches into working sessions that are genuinely productive and collaborative. Different financial models are being proposed to clients that reward impact and shared effort, not hours logged on a timesheet. Inevitably some of these experiments won’t work out, but that’s ok because they will all have taught us something. The freedom to question, to try and learn, is energising us and making us better and better so I’m going to keep doing that in 2022.
Jeff Bezos famously said: “I often get asked the question: ‘What’s going to change in the next 10 years?’ I never get asked the question: ‘What’s not going to change in the next 10 years?’ That second question is the more important of the two because you can build a business strategy around the things that are stable in time.” “What does he know?” I hear you mutter. In the ten years since we started Joint, whilst a million things have changed there are a few that have not. And those are the ones that, way back when, we built a business strategy around.
The biggy is our belief that great things come from relentless collaboration. It’s what we’ve built our whole culture around. Our hiring policy. Nice, inquisitive, gregarious people fit in well here. Our physical space. One table in one massive room helps speed everything up and allow for plenty of conversation. (Because conversation is where the magic happens.) A flat structure, with egos left at the front door, where everyone has the right to have their voice be heard. All adding up to a whole group of people moving inexorably towards the same goal: Solving business problems for like-minded people by doing the best work of our careers and having fun while we’re at it.
We’re in the innovation business. That means we’re always solving problems and optimising everything we do. When the pandemic hit, the most profound problem we needed to solve became: how do we collaborate, the way we always have, when we’re not physically together? Having meetings via video call was nothing new to us at Joint. We’ve done that regularly over years when we’ve needed to talk with Google in Mountain View, TripAdvisor in Boston and Amazon in Seattle.
But as everyone found early on, when you work on nothing but video calls you lose all nuance. Everything very quickly becomes transactional. That conversation magic? Gone. But by using various collaborative technologies and creating bespoke processes we found our way through and made work we’re proud of that has run all over the world. Then the second it felt safe enough for our people to spend time together in person we started what we’re calling the ‘Working From Joint Experiment’: A formalised way of applying anything we’ve found useful from the last 18 months’ to our business ongoing. We’re excited about continuing to test, learn and optimise.
Much will change at Joint over our next 10 years, as has done over our last 10, but experience has taught us that one thing that will stay, as Mr Bezos puts it, ‘stable in time’:
Our relentlessly collaborative way of working alongside people who relish working that way.
Over the last two years, business leaders, consumers and employees alike, have experienced moments of powerlessness. The world has turned on its head whilst accelerating full speed towards a reset within every part of our lives. From the climate crisis to social justice movements, from digital acceleration to employee activism, we have experienced changes that have often been out of our control.
So, as we enter a new year, as a business leader, my role has become very clear: to empower those around me. I believe that there is extreme value in the art of experimentation. When you have the courage and support to take risks you can find yourself evolving yourself and your business to improve your offering. That’s why it’s important for me to allow my teams the responsibility to add value by passing on the ability to innovate and iterate.
After all, bottom-up innovation is the future. As businesses scramble to keep up with advances in automation, it is our people that will differentiate us and allow us to grow. But as employees search for greater value and meaning in their roles, us business leaders need to work harder to give them the power they need.
That’s why at Creatopy we are rethinking our model. Over the next year, I will be forging teams that are made up of mixed roles, from UX and UI to product development and architecture, to form individual cells within the business organism. They can exist and move as individuals but work in tandem with other teams to ladder up in solving problems in the business landscape. They are empowered to experiment, to learn while doing—a culture I consider to be critical to growth and maintaining a happy and healthy workforce.
You are said to be 42% more likely to achieve your goals if you write them down. Personally, going one step further and publicly sharing your vision for change can be a great way to commit wholeheartedly. When we gained B Corp accreditation in March 2021 (one of only two media agencies to have achieved this status) we knew it would be far too easy to sit back and relax until the next validation in 2023. But if we truly want to be a business that upholds the highest standards of ethics whilst making a substantial difference to the world we need to commit to big goals.
So, we created ESG forums across the agency covering subjects such as the environment, carbon neutrality and diversity and inclusion to join our already active teams in wellness, outreach and culture. We set over 30 goals to complete before the end of 2022 which cover everything from improving our parental policies, to using more green suppliers, to offering our training programme and work experience placements to young people in the local community. We also set bigger picture goals including aiming to increase the number of women and Black and Minority Ethnic employees we have in senior positions across the business and to foster an inclusive culture to attract, retain and develop employees of all underrepresented groups. And challenging ourselves against industry standards; committing to operate and run a carbon-neutral agency group by 2025, 5 years earlier than the IPA’s industry target deadline set for 2030.
Whether it’s quick fixes or huge initiatives that require investment from the whole company, the projects are often incredibly rewarding and having a sense of social purpose can make coming to work all the more worthwhile. Not to mention other perks such as talent retention, recruitment appeal, cost savings, and attracting like-minded clients to name a few.
As B Corporation say, “we must be the change we seek in the world… we are each dependent upon another and thus responsible for each other and future generations.” By sharing our goals and engaging our teams, we hold ourselves to account but also, hopefully, motivate those around us to start making small changes in 2022 that can really make a difference to our world and our future.”
If there’s one thing we believe, it’s that brands have the power to shape individual choice. So, with climate action one of the most important issues of our time, we’ll be working to create change at scale in 2022.
As a way into this challenge, our Human Truths team, Heartbeat, ran a research program to explore what could be done to create behaviour change at scale. They discovered that 80% of consumers want to do better for the planet, but the current discourse – scientific language, ‘othering’, factions - means they don’t know what to do to really make change…which creates inaction. We believe that the biggest missed opportunity is creating a singular compelling narrative that moves consumers to act with urgency.
We know, and the industry knows, that there’s no one business that can create the impact we’re looking for – it’s going to take brands, governments and people to act together to drive change. So, we are calling on our industry, on the Best Global Brands and working with the United Nations Development Programme to co-create a global movement for behaviour change at scale.
As a Co-Founder, I’m less interested in talking about post Covid employee agendas and how this may impact on the way we work. The one thing that is apparent to me is how adaptable we humans are. Just like everyone else, at Missouri Creative, we have morphed into new ways of working and it’s not a big deal. I don’t see it as ‘big reset’, more as a series of small resets – sticking with what works and leaving behind what doesn’t - so long as our culture shines bright, our team are happy, and our clients get what they want.
Climate Change on the other hand is the biggie for me! Change needs to happen, and I believe more in showing than telling. So, going into 2022 and in accordance with COP26 telling us to reduce our resource footprints, I have decided to stop buying more stuff, especially clothes. And, I will be inviting all of my colleagues here at Missouri to join me and give it a go. Most of us have everything we need 2 or 3 times over, so how hard can it be?
Thinking twice about buying anything that I can’t justify, I will simply ask myself the questions; will this really make my life better? Or will it make me happier? If not, I shouldn’t be wasting the earth’s resources on my own over consumption.
However, as always there are exceptions. This newly found mantra will not include certain experiences as there are some pleasures, I will not deny myself. I will still spend money in the bars and pubs with friends and keep going to great restaurants and eateries in London - not only for a positive impact on my mental health but also to support the F&B industry that has been hit so hard.
To restore balance to my retail therapy dopamine deficit, if I achieve success with my new pledge, I will reward myself with a very decent bottle of Whiskey. So hopefully this time next year, I will be sitting down with a few mates sipping and savouring the delightful ‘water of the gods’ and probably feeling rather smug!
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