Jigsaw LLC


Agencies need to think and act more like software companies

— Culture & Observations —

If one is going to write about the SXSW session on the agile agency, one should do so quickly, right? Well the session was yesterday and a party – I mean, networking – took precedence until now. Agile networking, if you will.

Do Agencies Need to Think Like Software Companies” was a hot topic, packed with hundreds of mostly agency people and a line out the door. The panelists were some great thinker-and-doers, including Allison Mooney from Google, Ben Malbon from Google Creative Labs,  Matt Galligan from SimpleGeo, Rick Webb from The Barbarian Group and Rob Rasmussen from Tribal DDB.

Allison shared this great quote from Contagious Magazine that sums it up so well:

“Digital exploration is more than a fad…it is a business strategy. Adland is emulating Silicon Valley where agile beats perfection.”

I believe there are so few truly agile agencies, that it represents a huge competitive advantage, and the best way to serve and inspire our clients.

Here are the key points from the panel that I found reinforcing and inspiring:

Agencies need creative technologists – and strategic technologists – to serve as translators between the concept and the execution, between marketing and technology.

The agile mentality must be part and parcel of agency culture, not just one person or a few people. “Everyone in the agency should know what the hell is going on with technology.” We should be “on the ground” at conferences, meeting the startups, knowing what platforms already exist to fuel our creations. (Which is why I am here at SXSW of course.)

The creative process should be open and inclusive, because with the myriad technologies available good ideas can come from anywhere even more than ever before.

As software companies move quickly into prototyping, agencies should “think by making”. And, we agencies need to get better and faster at killing stuff if it is not going to work.

Technology platforms enable campaigns, yet budgets are still allocated from a campaign mentality. These platforms, such as the American Express swipe-for-a-discount, can be powerful long-term investments and should not be short-shifted.

Agencies must have flexible, loose structure and be willing to change frequently to make it work better. Build the right team one great person at a time (something Jigsaw definitely embodies IMHO) and don’t confine them to a single “department”.

This, I believe. A resounding “amen” on all counts. What do you think?

Posted by Jigsaw