It is a truism to say that the world is changing faster with every passing year. It´s also true to say that the media industry has been affected more than most.
To keep up. media agencies are having to re-imagine their role and the way they work with their clients on an ongoing basis. The key is that this re-imagination has become a constant necessity – not something that can be done once every few years or even every twelve months, but rather daily. A future focused agency needs to embrace this frequent change, and more than anything needs to understand that we are never going to get to the future.
This is the key part of what it means to be Open Source – a willingness and a desire to embrace change on an increasingly frequent basis.
Open Source is about a love of change. It is about a willingness to leave behind something that worked brilliantly twelve months ago, because it doesn’t work now or won’t work in six months. It´s a willingness to change the way we do things, or who we work with, because it won´t help our clients achieve the goals they currently have. It´s not being too tied to successes of the past when they become obsolete. It´s about making iterative changes to everything to keep pace with the changing landscape.
As Linus Torvalds, the creator of Linux and someone who knows a little bit about open source put it,
¨I try to avoid long-range plans and visions – that way I can more easily deal with anything new that comes up¨.
The other key to Open Source is collaboration. No single company any longer possesses all of the skills under one roof (or even set of roofs) to tackle our clients increasingly complex issues. If we want to deliver on our key purpose of creating solutions that will best drive our client´s business, we have to be prepared to collaborate. And we have to be prepared to collaborate with anyone – a two man VR shop, a seventeen year old influencer, our closest competitor, and probably, all of these people at once.
According to Torvalds, ¨In open source, we feel strongly that to really do something well, you have to get a lot of people involved¨.
The way we will get to these two goals (loving change and embracing collaboration) will be in how we structure ourselves, how we work with external clients and how we engage the critical internal clients – our talent.
Our talent is crucial. They need to feel empowered and expected to collaborate. They need to be rewarded and heralded for moments of collaboration and shown that self-interest and territorial behaviour is not the Open Source way. We need to create no-fear cultures where mistakes are seen as ways of learning, and we need to allow our people the space to learn and experiment so that they can spot the best opportunities for collaboration whenever they present themselves.
It means ensuring that our talent all understand the importance of collaboration and have KPIs focused on collaboration and doing the right thing for our clients. Yes, we are a business, and our own revenues are important, but we need to have the confidence that if we are 100% focused on doing the right things for our clients, the revenue will inevitably come.
How we structure is important too. We have to design our teams and services with a built to change mentality so that they are agile enough to change their skill-sets. Agile enough to expand and contract depending on our clients’ requirements.
But the spirit of Open Source cuts across not just how we structure ourselves internally and how we develop talent, but also across the way we work with clients.
An Open Source approach with clients requires a more iterative way of working together. We need to encourage our clients that the traditional briefing to set piece presentation way of working needs to move aside for a more agile, step by step method, requiring more co-working, more hacking.
But the most fundamental thing that Open Source means, is leaving your ego at the door, and understanding that the right solution can come from anywhere, senior or junior, big or small, creative or data, and that if the client wins, we will win as Blue 449 and we will all win as individuals.