“If you look at the creative process outside of traditional advertising, you’ll find a gap. And where there are gaps, there can be opportunities. Why does it take agencies months to work out a single campaign, when it seems Silicon Valley can kickstart an entirely new company in the same amount of time? In the same time frame, gaming companies pull together thousands of iterations of Call Of Dutyand Farmville. Sitcoms can turn out dozens of scripts. And so forth.
What agencies must take immediate responsibility for is the change in hierarchies happening outside of the agency brain tunnel. Top-down assembly line processing is a remnant from the rusty industrial age, and no longer works in the fluid, spreadable hoodoo environments of the information era.” - Patrick Hanlon, Google Says It's Time for Agencies to Get Agile, Forbes
This drives me almost as crazy as the ridiculous "utility or bust" snake oil that sold agencies the idea that storytelling is for chumps, tools are the only things that matter. Like don’t teach math, just build better calculators. Sounds good on paper, but leaves you with a bunch of idiots.
First, agencies are not startups. Startups aren't even startups, at least not in the romantic view in which they’re presented here. They imagine the myth of the entrepreneur while dismissing the months or years it takes even the most succesful to find their footing. Even then, they fail at a higher rate than would be sustainable for our industry. If you expect to stay in business long with 1 success to 100 epic failures, good luck.
Second, most startups are building stuff they themselves want. In Paul Graham’s post on growth in startups, he said “Steve Wozniak's problem was that he wanted his own computer. That was an unusual problem to have in 1975. But technological change was about to make it a much more common one. Because he not only wanted a computer but knew how to build them, Wozniak was able to make himself one. And the problem he solved for himself became one that Apple solved for millions of people in the coming years. But by the time it was obvious to ordinary people that this was a big market, Apple was already established.”
In other words, it’s a combination of perspective and circumstance. Neither easily gained, especially not at the rate suggested here.
We spend most of our time making things that need to move people other than ourselves. Pretending that you can create things that matter to someone else by wielding only an expert knowledge of a technology is just absurd.
I believe that agility matters. I believe that companies that can grow and adapt to changes happening around them usually win. I believe that relentlessly iterating and staying ruthless with our ideas matters more today than in any other time in our history.
That doesn’t mean that every part of the process of making advertising-like things should be treated the same. It's not always useful to throw a bunch of people in the room and expect anything of value to come back. Agility is not an end unto itself.
A secret sauce for faster ideas is a story the industry wants to believe in, just like the flash of a brilliant insight or the power of creative genius. But if we rely on miracles rather than the tenacity and grit to both find and produce good ideas, I have trouble seeing how the products we make improve rather than continue to decline.
We need to understand when to run. When enough information is enough. When we have the right problem to solve or the right ideas to execute. Maybe then is when speed becomes more of an imperative. Otherwise, dollars are too scarce and too important to risk for the sake of speed alone.
photo by kurichan+