Agency Culture: A Contrarian View

A friend recently said something that blew my mind. He said, "It seems like most agencies define culture as what you do when you are not working." Wow! I couldn't agree more. I can't tell you how many times in my 25 years in this business I've heard an agency brag about their "culture" by saying things like, "Yea, we have a pool table, we celebrate every birthday, we have beer Fridays, there's free soda in the fridge" etc. ad nauseum. 

Take note that everything they are saying is really an explanation of how great things are when they are not working. However, very rarely do they say, "We have a great culture, mediocrity is not tolerated by co-workers, conversations about strategy spontaneously break out in the hall, 2 co-workers are writing a book in their down-time," and so forth.

To Clients:
If your agency seems to always talk about how great things are when they are not working then your fees are being used to create inefficiencies and the work is done as quickly as possible so they can get back to the ping-pong tournament. 

To Agency Leadership:
Take a look at your work culture. If the following 5 things are not true you have work to do: 

  1. Poor work is met with derision by co-workers
  2. No one wants to leave the office till the work is done and it is great
  3. There's a little conflict because of the staff's passion
  4. You are bombarded by ideas, articles and links from employees
  5. You are met with an onslaught of questions in work start meetings (questions like, "What are we trying to accomplish?" and "Why are we doing this?") 


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