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Why brands should rethink their team structures for success in 2023

Bringing teams closer together helps spark more creative thinking

Robin Skidmore, Journey Further

Founder and CEO

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New year, new you. So what are you going to change this year to become the best version of yourself? Apply this January phenomenon to your business and maybe this is the year you have more success, why? Because at work, goals are typically shared by teams and not individuals. Together people have a greater chance of succeeding. The real issue is that many teams are kept apart, operating in silos and often focused on the wrong things. This is prevalent across many marketing disciplines but never more so than between brand and performance teams at a time when they need to work closer than ever before. 

We spent a lot of 2022 formulating a new operating model, one that erodes this old siloed mentality that we have suffered from for too long. If we are to practice what we preach, we need to completely change how we work together and with our clients. The change starts now.

We want everyone pulling in the same direction.

Robin Skidmore, Founder and CEO of Journey Further

So what have we done? Ultimately we have unified brand and performance teams, created singular OKRs across the business and are in the process of adapting our financial reporting to measure holistically, rather than measuring departmental or channel success. We want everyone pulling in the same direction. 

We have historically launched (at least) one new service every 12 months, and whilst this creates more opportunity to support and grow with our clients, it has come with some real challenges. These new services are typically built around a single expert or small, tight-knit team who naturally want to impress and grow their side of the business. We encourage this growth mindset but have realised that over time it creates unnecessary tension between complementary teams who can create greater value if they pool expertise and working practices together. This issue isn’t confined to just agencies either; I can’t think of any brands that wouldn’t benefit from having their technical teams more involved with marketing, or creatives spending more time with their data and insight experts. 

So this is the first time in 12 months we haven’t launched anything new. Instead, we are heads down, focused on creating much deeper connections across all areas of our business to stop waste, increase speed and provide greater growth potential. 

In reality, this means merging teams that have always worked apart and adopting a new creative + data + experimentation approach upfront to every brief we work on. It means coupling right and left-brain thinkers to creatively and analytically solve challenges for our clients, thinking customer-first, not channel-first. It means internal restructure, driving more horizontal responsibility and t-shaped behaviours. 

There are five things that we’re changing internally, that brands can consider too: 

  1. Creation of a new senior leadership team - We’re pulling the key people that represent our core services together to tackle company-wide strategic initiatives, rather than just focusing on their disciplines. This move creates natural succession and gives time back to the executive team to focus on what’s next, rather than the here and now. We need time and space to keep pace with the market. 
  2. New cross-functional working groups - By changing the way our teams are set up, we will create a much better flow of information across the business and will enable greater opportunities for people to learn and develop their careers in multiple directions. It also promotes collaborative and diverse thinking that breaks out from the “us and them” mentality that we need to shift away from. 
  3. New capacity models underpinned by integrated systems and new technology - This enables us to make smarter decisions on hiring and understanding the true profitability of our work. 
  4. Simplified company OKRs - This year, we have fewer, bigger goals compared to previous years that can be owned and shared by everyone. 
  5. Agency rebrand - Yes, this sounds quite radical. But our legacy branding carries baggage we need to ditch. Our rebrand launches very soon and it’s a moment in time we can mark as the beginning of a new chapter for the agency. 

These changes won’t be easy, but we are already seeing many positive indications that we are making the right moves. I am sure there are many other businesses that have experienced similar growing pains, but it will be the ones that are prepared to invest time and energy to change that will reap the benefits in their next phase of growth.

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