I left the BBC many years ago, but they emailed me last week with an update of what's going on in the organisation, invited me to some staff events, and also asked me to help amplify their responses to some of the current controversies. I still feel connected to the organisation and keen to help out.
That's because they have mindfully created an alumni network, actively keeping in touch with former staff. They probably do this for a number of reasons — maybe it'll help them recruit experienced people back into the organisation later, maybe it'll help them spread the word on BBC things. Lots of large organisations do this — McKinsey is famous for the effort it puts into nurturing its alumni connections.
There's nothing particularly complex about it. Could smaller, creative agencies do the same?
Last week I wrote about the big renewal — the high levels of staff turnover agencies are seeing at the moment, and how we'll look back on it as a good thing in a few years, helping us renew our agencies at a vital time.
People leaving the business is (nearly) always frustrating, and sometimes hard not to take personally, for agency leaders. It's important to acknowledge that, and accept how you feel, but then put it to one side (with some exceptions where the leaving has been extreme!)
There could be a great benefit to the agency, and to the former staff members, of actively building a network of 'agency friends'. Help them stay in touch, let them know about agency news and new jobs, offer to help in their career.
How could you build your alumni network?
I was asked last week about how agency leaders can track and manage risks in their business, and my advice is to keep things simple. Rather than a big 'business continuity' document, have a chart on the wall, or in a slide deck you refer to in each board/leadership meeting. Make it all about the conversation rather than the documentation. I blogged about this: the Risk Radar.
I led some training workshops recently that were received really well — so were now working on making these available as e-learning courses so they are accessible anytime. We'll bring you news of our first releases soon.
If you're trying to navigate what on earth is going on in the world and how you can plan strategically for the future of your agency, you're not alone in feeling lost. We run Agency Radar, the intelligence agency for agencies, to provide briefings and in-depth reports to use in agency board and leadership meetings. We've just published the latest Radar Report which looks ahead at what might come.