For many agencies, this is a curse word like few others and that S word is systemization.

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– Hey everybody! Drew McLellan here from Agency Management Institute. This week, I am coming to you from downtown Chicago with Lake Michigan behind me. Now, so you can see it or not but it’s back there. So one of the things I’ve been talking to agency owners about a lot this week is the S word. And for many agencies, this is a curse word like few others and that S word is systemization. So if your agency has been the same size for a period of time or you seem stuck or you end up redoing a lot of work because people are doing it differently and it’s not always the most efficient way for them to work in a collaborative way, odds are you have a process or system problem. So, many agencies as they grow up, everything is done in this sort of tribal knowledge way which means that Bob does it one way, Babette does it one way, Mary does it another way, it all gets done and the clients are happy but each person processes through the work in their own way. So their meeting minutes look different, their creative briefs look different, the way they give feedback to the team might be at a different time or in a different way but all through the process of getting work done through your shop, it’s done the way of whoever is leading that project. And that’s great when you’re four or five people. Well, that’s not great but it’s acceptable when you’re four or five people. But the minute you get into double digits; 10, 15, 20 people, all of a sudden that systemization of Bob’s system and Babette’s system and Mary’s system, that causes problems. It causes chaos, that causes drop balls and confusion. And so sooner or later, every agency has to go through the painful realization that they’ve got to have Drew’s agency’s way and everyone has to follow the same process or system which is the agency’s process or system, not a person’s. And as you might imagine, there are all kinds of advantages to to this. One, the work is done in a consistent way. Two, people can jump in and out of the work and they understand where in the workflow they are. Three, if you have to swap out team members or someone goes on vacation or the client puts something on pause for six months and you have a different set of team members when they bring the work back to the agency, all of those things, that consistency allows you to still effectively and efficiently deliver the work. So if you don’t have… And by the way, you don’t need 9,000 systems. You need a handful of systems that are sort of big and overriding. So, how do we onboard a client? How do we onboard an employee? How do we kickoff a project? How do we process work all the way through the agency from the time the client asks for it until we send them a bill? Those are the kinds of systems that your agency needs to write down and needs to codify by working with your team members to make sure that everyone is working within the same system. This is hard in the beginning because nobody wants to give up their system and everybody’s in the groove and the habit of doing things the way they’re used to. But they will get it if you, the leader hold their feet to the fire and by the way, if you follow the system too. Guess who is usually the most offensive offender, the biggest offender of an agency system? Yep, it’s you. You do the end run around the system which tells them they all can do an end run around the system. So if you’re stuck, if you’re feeling like work is not going as smoothly as possible, maybe it’s time for you either to think about systems or to think about updating your systems because at certain sizes of an agency, your agency changes so much that all of your systems break and you have to reinvent new ones. And I’ll talk about that in my next video. Okay? I’ll see you next week.

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