What we can learn from stepping outside of ourselves

Ad Age 18 Apr 2019 01:00

It took me years to notice. But eventually, it was impossible to ignore. Some of our longest-lasting client relationships weathered the turbulence of turnover -- sometimes multiple times -- on our team. Talented creatives or account people would move on to new opportunities, and we would sheepishly introduce a new team.

We were on pins and needles about these transitions. Would we lose the client? Did everything hinge on the recently departed team? How could we position these changes as positives versus negatives?

But soon, the relationships experienced renaissances. Ideas and perspectives blossomed. That’s when it became clear that even the most established relationships can thrive after change.

Today, instead of fearing transitions, it's critically important to passionately embrace them. We’ve learned that change with intention is a catalyst for radical creativity. That insight was the genesis of our internal consultancy, Outside Minds.

By developing an interdisciplinary team that creatively clears the way for different thinking and effectively reinvigorating life into an account, we found that we created a long-term value solution for our clients. It’s not about replacing the current team or forced rotations -- the institutional knowledge and shared experience of our client teams remain incredibly valuable -- rather, the goal is to keep our client relationships fresh by leveraging a constantly evolving group of our top thinkers.

We have always built our teams with eclectic skill sets and backgrounds, combining strategists and creatives who thrive in our asymmetrical world, an always-changing realm that demands velocity and unorthodox approaches to the most complicated problems. We have found creating systems like Outside Minds to be a necessity for growth.

Outside Minds strategists don’t know what can’t be done or what ideas were shot down years ago as being too adventurous, too off-brand, too outside. They only see the possibilities. By blending their insights with the long-standing client team’s knowledge, they can create exceptional stories and experiences that are true to our clients’ DNA.

We don’t have to wait for change to happen by chance -- we need to proactively make it happen.

Like the most memorable stories, change opens our minds to receiving new ideas. Without change as fuel for innovation, relationships become stagnant. Just think: Anything is boring if presented without the element of surprise. When we know what’s coming next, we get bored. Whenever there’s the slightest reason to guess what’s next, we’re on the road to wonder.

This is why working with always-evolving teams keeps our work exciting. It keeps us on our toes, evoking the undeniable joy of delight that shines through in our client content and storytelling adventures.

Incredible opportunities for disruptive innovation emerge when you stop fearing change and fully embrace it head-on. Only then can you transform challenges -- in our case, inevitable turnover on our internal client teams -- into meeting places of wonder and creativity. Only then are you emboldened with the creative freedom to rethink and truly refresh what a client’s journey could be.

So, begin embracing change today. Look to the talent at your agency who you might not traditionally consider for a particular task. Begin making your entire agency accessible to your clients, not just the few who are in the weeds on a day-to-day basis. The art of growth relies on how your team is able to continuously innovate and evolve, and it’s a proactive strategy that needs to be executed every day. Change your mind about change, and the possibilities are endless.

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