As I join WCG and the W2O Group, many thoughts and objectives go through my head – meeting our talent and clients, learning about where we innovate, and looking for growth opportunities that align with our clients’ greatest needs and our people’s passions.
These are all important fundamentals that will receive much of my time and attention. But they are basically the same to-do’s for anyone in my shoes joining any new agency.
The reason I joined WCG is because it isn’t any agency. Building on WCG’s unique success thus far, and contemplating its equally unique future potential, I can’t wait to collaborate with Jim, Bob and Gary as well as all of my new colleagues and clients, to explore, test and action ideas that I believe can continue to propel WCG on its journey as a next practices agency of the future.
Smart Growth & Avoiding Agency Sprawl
If an agency’s annual revenue grows by 16%, has that agency become 16% more valuable as a client partner? If a firm’s headcount increases by 12%, has it become a better place to work by a factor of 12%?
Counting bums-on-seats and the total amount of fees that clients pay them is an essential responsibility for the agency’s owners and managers. But too often these figures become central data points to demonstrate the intrinsic value of an agency to its clients and its people.
WCG needs to provide a geographic footprint and set of capabilities that match our clients’ shifting and growing needs. We also need to have a certain scale that allows for continued investment in innovation, as well as a platform that allows for the on-going development of our people.
All of the above requires WCG to continue to grow. But we must avoid building a company so far-flung that it takes us away from client counseling, product innovation and people development and merely traps WCG’s managers and owners in the business of “feeding the beast” that we built.
As with urban planning that seeks to avoid unintended sprawl, WCG’s growth should be smart, with the right shape in mind for our organization. We need to build tools, expertise and a geographic presence that are doggedly defined by the needs of our clients and the aspirations of our people. We also need to ensure that WCG’s organizational shape as a client counselor and program activator always fits like a glove with the other W2O companies which can provide our clients with insights and analytics that they simply cannot get anyplace else.
Going Being Global
Choosing whether or not to ‘be global’ is as false a choice as choosing whether or not to accept gravity. Organizations and individuals are all operating in a globalized reality. The only variables are our level of awareness and the choices we make.
Companies make a choice to ‘go global’ through specific financial, strategic and operational decisions. But once additional markets have been opened, new products launched and a wider set of consumers are being touched, companies – at their center – must be equally deliberate about being global. That doesn’t always occur.
In addition to executing specific ‘going global’ investments and activities in new markets, similar to GE’s concept of ‘reverse innovation’, global brands and companies must subject themselves to ‘reverse influence’ whereby, the center of their organization – including but not limited to the C-suite – is infused with and influenced by a mosaic of global expertise, insights and intelligence on an on-going basis.
This reverse influence should be sustained, it should disrupt assumptions and broaden the waterfront of perspectives that impact real decisions. A company’s agency partner should be a part of this reverse influence. WCG wants to be that type of partner to our clients with our people and our point of view.
If you you want to be trusted anywhere in the world, tell the truth. However, beyond that, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to building, managing or repairing trust across all markets or every stakeholder relationship.
How does a Brazilian multi-national energy company build trust with policy makers in DC?… How can an Indian healthcare company establish trust with doctors when entering a new market like the UK?… How should a US food & beverage company repair trust with moms in China’s Tier 2 & 3 cities after a recall?
Attaining borderless trust requires certain universal principles and behavior. But then it gets local – quickly. No one needs to read or write more words about the influence and impact and highly localized aspect of of social media communities and conversations. Similarly, most of us drown in thick monitoring reports from multiple sources that go unread, dashboards that only cover half the markets you are in and less of the languages your consumers speak, and buzz analytics that merely measure… buzz.
All the while, strategic decisions are ill-informed and campaigns cannot be assessed in real-time for either course-corrections or amplifications. And there is certainly no central repository, let alone criteria for, true influencers across all borders.
Borderless trust requires diving into local conversations and communities and building real relationships. Local instincts and expertise are definitely required. But any approach to listening, analyzing and measuring requires a singular divining rod that is informed by (and can influence) an organization’s overall strategy.
WCG can draw on W2O Group’s proprietary solutions that equip our account teams to provide uniquely powerful counsel on how our clients can build, manage and protect borderless trust.
That’s not happening at any agency. And that’s why I am so excited to be here.
Note: Jim and Bob’s thoughts on hiring Chris can be found here.