This popular video from TAT predicting the future of screen technology
reminds us that we need to embrace innovation in all of its forms.
Yesterday was my last day as Mullen’s chief creative officer, a title I’ve held for the last 12 years. No, I’m not going anywhere. After 28 years as a partner in a company I helped build it seems a little late for that. But I am taking on a new role: chief innovation officer. That may sound an odd title for someone who’s spent most of the last 28 years working in what we historically refer to as the “creative” side of the business – making TV spots, videos, websites, apps, digital experiences, print campaigns — but from my perspective it makes perfect sense.
For one thing, it excites the hell out of me. The chance to focus on all that’s new, think about its impact on the agency and our clients, and work to inspire new behaviors and practices that might, as Faris Yakob says, “get us to awesome faster” is, well, awesome in itself.
For another, it’s a natural continuation of a personal evolution I began two and a half years ago. After helping define a new vision for the agency, expressed with the word Unbound, I’ve spent most of my time on projects designed to help us live up to all that Unbound declares as we transformed ourselves from a message making ad agency into one we believe is far more relevant to the digital/social/mobile age.
I’ve witnessed the enthusiasm of a company as it managed to integrate technology, UX, design, social and mobile into its creative department. I’ve watched with awe as our PR veterans joined with right-out-of-school digital natives to launch and build a social influence practice. I’ve rejoiced in the new business wins that validated our progress. And I have found myself incredibly grateful to our ECD Mark Wenneker — as of today or new CCO — whose talent, passion and relentlessness freed me to explore, play and learn about all the new stuff going on.
Finally, and best of all, it makes sense because it scares the bejeezus out of me. I’ve been a lot of things – newspaper reporter, speechwriter, PR counsel, account exec, copywriter, creative director and CCO – but I’ve never been anything like a chief innovation officer.
I can’t say I have it all figured out. But I’m excited about some of the initiatives in the works. We plan to formalize a cross discipline lab that comes at client problems from different perspectives. We’ll continue to develop new services – mobile and social strategy being our most recent – for clients. We’ll accelerate the introduction of new technologies and platforms into the agency and the work we create. And we’ll find even more ways to create partnerships and alliances with other companies.
All the lines have blurred. Creatives invent products. Technologists think like creatives. The Bernbachian team has morphed into multi-discipline collaboration.
Allegedly Dan Weiden once advised his many talented employees to “come to work stupid everyday.” No doubt there’s always something to learn and the greatest mistake we could ever make is to think we know all the answers. These days it’s more important to have good questions. I have plenty of those.