Being Beta

Exercises in the higher banter with One of 26. Elsewhere called 'poet of adland'. By a whipple-squeezer. Find out why being beta is the new alpha: betarish at googlemail dot com

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Commercial: A suggestion for revamping process at agencies

I know, I know, what could be duller, especially when everyone tells you that broadly, they now operate in the same way, with all the important people in the room at the same time, ideas coming from anywhere etcetera etcetera.

But something struck me in this write up of how Facebook gets to be like Facebook (answer: engineers are king):

resourcing for projects is purely voluntary.
- a PM lobbies group of engineers, tries to get them excited about their ideas. (my emphasis)
- Engineers decide which ones sound interesting to work on.
- Engineer talks to their manager, says “I’d like to work on these 5 things this week.”
- Engineering Manager mostly leaves engineers’ preferences alone, may sometimes ask that certain tasks get done first.
- Engineers handle entire feature themselves — front end javascript, backend database code, and everything in between. If they want help from a Designer (there are a limited staff of dedicated designers available), they need to get a Designer interested enough in their project to take it on. Same for Architect help. But in general, expectation is that engineers will handle everything they need themselves.


Now imagine if that model was applied to an agency. You get a brief, and instead of it being allocated to you on the basis of what your workload is like, who the creative director thinks will crack it best, whether your skillset is what's needed, an account manager effectively has to run an auction and get you excited enough to want to work on it.

So, in theory, best talent ends up wanting to work on the best briefs, because they can see the possibilities for it.

No doubt, something akin to this happens informally at many places already (and I'm not thinking of situations where people pull rank to get their hands on a brief they really want.)

It just struck me that too often, we rely on the work funnel to parcel out briefs (apologies for the metaphor cocktail there) as opposed to actually thinking about how we might actually best match talent to need.

Which is analogous to trying to design markets without price signals, for more on which have a gander at this. And this.

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