Problems are your friend
A healthy agency continuously evolves.
People keep sparking new ideas, experimenting, and seeing the idea through to completion. They regularly integrate real improvements into the daily running of the business and its work for clients.
There are likely to be more new ideas than capacity, though, and that overload can lead to the common pitfalls we discussed last week.
The first challenge is being able to select the most valuable ideas rather than just the shiniest, trendiest or most fun. Otherwise your agency ends up focusing scarce and valuable time on something-something-blockchain while more important opportunities get missed.
But how do you identify where the real value lies?
This is where problems are your friend, and why it's important to regularly discover, track and communicate what your agency's problems are.
Because the real value in new ideas lies in solving the most pressing problems in your agency's future.
Whenever I run agency retreats, board strategy sessions or any other key gathering, after all the ra-ra of "here's our ambition and the strategy to get there", I run a session of problem gathering.
"If that is where we are going, what problems will we need to solve to get there?" is the framing.
Because problems are not negative things. Problems are puzzles to be solved, like a maths problem or a chess problem. Solving them earns you points from your clients, your team, your communities. They're the things you want your brightest minds looking for ideas on.
And solving these problems is what will propel your agency towards its ambitions.
So, we generate the list of problems, look for themes, and then prioritise them into a shortlist of our top problems to solve. We write the problems so they are stated as puzzles to be solved. Then we make sure to talk widely in the agency about how solving these problems is our focus and we want to hear ideas that can help.
- How might we improve our new client onboarding experience so we wow them from the start and can get the project going more quickly?
- How might we develop and demonstrate credible expertise in AI in a way that is meaningful to our clients?
- How might we improve our recruitment pipeline?
- How might we increase the speed of opportunities through the sales pipeline again?
Not only is that then a focus for generating new ideas for improving the agency and its work, but we can measure any other ideas that come up against these problems to see if they would help to solve any of them. It gives us a framework to identify real value in amongst all the ideas we have, aligning our agency improvement work with our ambitions.
So, this week, how might you go about discovering and communicating the problems to be solved in your agency?
Have a great week,