December 2016

Eating Culture for Breakfast

Peter Drucker is famous for saying, “culture eats strategy for breakfast.” We believe culture is fostered over breakfast.

Carving out time for standing, team status meetings can at times seem like a chore at best, a complete distraction from revenue-generating client work at worst. However, it’s during these weekly meetings, held every Tuesday morning at teamDigital, that we truly get to know one another over a few bagels and coffee. We share agency news and more importantly, news from our clients and our industry that inspires and educates us all.

One of the areas we’re most focused on is inspiring our team to think forward. We ask a simple question: What’s Next? We believe that embracing a what’s next philosophy will not only create an environment of efficiency and productivity, but one of aspiration. We want our team to constantly think about what’s next for our industry, for our clients, for the agency, and their careers. It’s an empowered, self-motivating orientation that will make us all stronger in the long run.

5 ways we feed the What’s Next culture…

  1. Challenge Ourselves
    Regardless of position, all team members are challenged to step out of their comfort zones, to consider their daily tasks and volunteer for something new. We put the team on the spot in group meetings. One, so there’s no “checking out,” and two, so that everyone learns to think on their feet and gain comfort expressing their thoughts in a group. Additionally, we challenge everyone – at all levels – to educate us all: sharing best practices, case studies, technology developments or just really cool creative. And ask the team, how did you challenge yourself this past week? How did you push your comfort zone?
  2. Be Adventurous
    To some extent, we see ourselves as marketing expedition guides for our clients. Finding new routes to success and glory. We want to recognize the risks taken by the team and the client, the attempt, the learning that came from the daring. We also celebrate the ideas never-executed. As all agency folks know, it’s the ideas that the client didn’t buy or execute that the team believes are the best. Don’t let that inspiration and passion die on the vine. Celebrate the thinking, show it off to the entire agency, and have serious conversations about why the idea didn’t get to execution. What can be improved? How was it communicated? As many of us have seen, ideas have more than one life.
  3. Ask Why?
    At teamDigital, we talk a lot about critical thinking. Our heritage is in legal and promotional support, so “getting it done, flawlessly, no matter what” is in our DNA. As we’ve grown and evolved, we continue to keep that spirit close to our agency hearts. As our work has evolved, so have our clients’ expectations. They require consultation and guidance. They want an honest sounding board and we want our team to be brave enough to ask the hard questions of our clients. The team is encouraged to push back, interrogate a brief, and offer unexpected ideas and solutions. Culturally, changing an approach from “when does this need to go live” to “what are you trying to achieve” is not easy. However, it is likely the single biggest contributor to long-term success.
  4. Keep It Homegrown
    At teamDigital, we have a distribution list made up of the “td folks” or better put, the Team. Set the tone, inspire, but leave the “folks” in charge of the culture. At their best, agency cultures are created organically, but they need to be nurtured, shaped, and strengthened. Importantly, great office cultures are based on trust. We believe that trust is earned through our actions: do we have each other’s backs, do we lend support wherever possible, are we fully committed? With trust comes empowerment. If you are going to empower individuals with responsibility, trust their judgement and commitment and hold them accountable.
  5. Have Some Fun
    There is no shortage of fun at teamDigital. Making time for team events, contests, and genuine office fun is critical. Back to #4, put it in the hands of the team. There’s nothing worse than HR rolling out a new, mandatory morale-building program. The folks at Dunder-Mifflin would agree.

The vision for where we’re taking our agency and the culture we’re fostering go hand in hand. After all, who wouldn’t want to work in a place that is focused on moving forward, evolving and simply, what’s next. Oh, and the dogs roaming our office are also very important members of our team and they, too, are put to a challenge at every Tuesday morning breakfast meeting.

What do you think? How do you help create a unique culture at your organization?

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