Here’s where we netted out. Thanks to the willing Nick Todd, who shoots and helps edit the videos we do at these sessions, we got eight of the 10 speakers on film answering all five of the questions below. Believe it or not, while many of the answers were consistent, few if any were overly redundant.
It might take a few weeks to get a finished video together, but my instinct tells me you’ll find it both interesting and insightful to hear answers from Matt Howell, Gareth Kay, Tim Malbon, Ben Malbon, John Winsor, Kim Laama, Sheena Matheiken and Scott Prindle when we do.
In the meantime, below are the final questions and a few of the answers.
How can agencies inspire clients to do more innovative work?
Answers ranged from setting up internal labs to experimenting more ourselves. That way we can vet new technologies and platforms and develop ideas that we know will work before taking them to clients. Scott Prindle suggested taking on the role of teacher, educating clients more frequently in what’s possible with all the software, social networks and digital toys coming at us. Others talked about the need to bring inexpensive ideas to the table in hopes of inspiring more experimentation. In short, spread excitement.
What lessons can agencies learn from software companies and start-ups?
As an industry, we no longer look to each other for ideas and inspiration. We draw on Silicon Valley, new social platforms, as well as companies like Google and Apple. If any answers stood out, they were these. Speed is your best friend. Stop perfecting the design of something and get to a Minimum Viable Product quickly by prototyping. Another equally compelling suggestion – stop organizing people around disciplines and put people together by team. It accelerates solving problems.
How can agencies stop the drain of talent to young startups and tech giants?
As we hire more creative technologists and developers, we’re competing with a much broader range of companies. Want to attract and retain people whose goals are to make things that matter? Give them more responsibility sooner. Consider a program like Google’s 20 percent time. Eliminate organizational hierarchy.
Do agencies have a role in executing a brand’s social media when authenticity, transparency and access are the key attributes for good social engagement?
This was the most controversial question. Some participants insisted outright that agencies should have no role. Social media and all the new platforms simply emphasize the diminished need for the middleman. Others vehemently disagreed, suggesting that if agencies master the art of conversation strategy and engagement that they should take the lead. Creativity matters even in the new space and agencies are better prepared to be inventive there than clients might be themselves.
What are the core talents you look for when hiring people who’ll drive change and implement contemporary digital work?
This might be the only real throwaway question, but the answers were still pretty good. Kim Laama wants familiarity with the entire digital landscape. I suggested curiosity and a T-shape. Tim Malbon wouldn’t consider anyone who didn’t have a real social presence. (If you haven’t already connected, interacted, shared and contributed on Twitter forget about working at Made by Many.) Ben Malbon, director of strategy at Google’s Creative Lab had my favorite answer. “I’m less interested in people who use technology and more interested in people who want to create it.”
Eventually we’ll have more thorough answers on film. In the meantime, thanks for joining in.