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I work with companies where business-as-usual often creates negative forces that push against the traits necessary for creativity and innovation. To give some examples: heavy meeting culture, too much or too little stakeholder engagement, strict hierarchy and HiPPO culture, lack of belief in qualitative research or user-centred design, fixed processes designed to increase assurance and reduce risk.
Anyone working with or within companies like this must find ways of either quashing these negative forces or protecting the creative team from them. I believe that the best outcome is achieved by a careful balance of both. Too much protection leads to ‘design in a bubble’, where the product isn’t grounded in the realities of the business. Too little protection of the team and they end up overwhelmed by the negative forces and lose their way.
In my experience agencies are most adept at enabling companies to act in ways they aren’t accustomed to. By hiring an agency a company is buying itself a piece of innovation or creativity. The best agencies teach their clients and build capabilities along the way. Resulting in positive change in the client’s business, thus increasing the value of their engagement.If I can correctly communicate my value to the clients that I work with, then it stands that my clients and I should have a better understanding of the relationship between us, one that sees me afforded a greater level of trust. So whilst the need to operate under the name of an agency may seem arbitrary I hope my work will benefit from a change in how clients assume we’ll work together.
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