The 5 levels of agency thinking — and how they can clear your mind
I regularly talk about how agency leaders wear many hats — each hat representing a different role they have in the business as owner, director, CEO, HR, finance, sales, team lead, and maybe even practitioner. These hats are stacked on top of each other from the 'doing' of the business up to the more 'strategic leadership'.
Some leaders think they have just one hat, the 'leader' hat, and it involves all these infinite things! Others power through a days' work without realising they're swapping hats.
Working like this, days feel chaotic and reactive. There's no chance to think. And at the end of the day it feels like a load of urgent stuff got done, but not many of the important things for the future of the business. That always feels over the horizon somewhere.
It really helps to understand the five levels of thinking in an agency, identify the roles you might have at each level, and the kinds of thinking you should be doing in each hat.
Here's Convivio's model for those five levels. The questions to think about are examples, you can create your own version of this model with the things you want to be sure you think about at each level.
|Level / Cadence||Questions|
|Owners / Yearly||Who should be on the board to steer the company? Who should own this company in three-five years?||Why do I want to continue my investment in this company? Why might I choose to sell all or part of it?||What rewards do I seek in return for the risk of my capital? What would make me proud to have supported the company? What might make me decide it is time to sell my stake?||How can I support the company to maximise my investment? How can I be a useful ambassador? How could the company proceed without me?|
|Board / Monthly-Quarterly||Who should be CEO? Who should be on the board? Who are the stakeholders we need to work in the interests of?||Why does this company exist? Why does that matter? Why will we succced?||What will the company become in 3-5 years? What challenges and opportunities will the company face on the horizon, beyond 6 months? What are the most important strategic changes we want to see in the next 12 months? What do we expect the leadership team to achieve in the next 6 months?||How can we best support and coach the leadership in the next 6 months? How can we operate more effectively as a board to steer the company wisely for the long term? How can we be good ambassadors for the company? How can the company improve this quarter?|
|CEO / Weekly-Monthly||Who should be on my leadership team? Who should I be listening to, learning from? Who do I need to celebrate in the company?||Why should people want to work here? Why should they care about what we do? Why should I be the one to lead us? Why would customers choose us?||What is my vision for the business that I will inspire the board and the company with? What challenges and opportunities will the company face in the next 6 months? What are the most important strategic things to work on in the business in the next 6 months?||How can I better embed the values and purpose of the business in our everyday working lives? How can I demonstrate good ways of working? How can I be a good ambassador for the company? How can the company improve this month?|
|Leaders / Daily-Weekly||Who should be doing what on my team? Who might I need to add to the team? Who might I need to move? Who needs my support?||Why should people want to be in my team? Why||What challenges and opportunities will the company face in the next month? What does the CEO need from me and my team?||How will my team know what is most important to focus on? How can I best support my team? How can my team best help customers? How can my team best support the company's current objectives? How can we improve as a team this week?|
|Practitioner / Daily||Who needs my help? Who needs to know what I'm working on?||What needs to be achieved? What challenges and opportunities might my project face?||What can I get done? What can I learn? What can I do to make a positive impact?||How can I improve today? How can I represent the company best? How can I support my colleagues? How can I look after myself?|
Once you understand these levels of thinking, you can see how hard switching between each level would be. How muddled the thinking could be become.
They are very different headspaces to be in. Different timescales, different breadths of vision.
It's vital to carve out clear time for yourself to spend in each level, and give yourself distinct blocks of time to spend at each of these levels, at the cadence (frequency, rhythm) shown. I'll write more about that next week.
Have a great week!
The first episode of the Convivio Agency Leaders podcast went live! Listen here and subscribe in your favourite podcast app to get episode two as soon as it's published later this week. In episode one we talked a bit about this concept of the many hats that agency leaders have to wear, and Sue Keogh from Sookio joined us to talk about her style of leadership and how that's evolved.
We've now released dates for our training workshops for agency leaders through until March 2022. Secure your place on one of our workshops about Agency Positioning, Healthy Agency Finance for leaders, or a new course to help you grapple with time and focus as an agency leader. Find out more at our Eventbrite page.
Following up from our major Agency Radar report for this half-year, we've published a series of updates on some of the key issues:
- What can you do to head off 'The Great Resignation' before it hits you?
- Headaches ahead for UK agencies with proposed UK GDPR overhaul.
These updates are available on the free subscriber tier, so you can just sign up with your email to get access.
I discovered that a French creative agency dreamed up these brilliant channel idents for France 3 TV covering the summer of sport this year — featuring marmots, which are the channel's mascots. And here they are doing some movie spoofs too. Genius. I can't stop laughing at the Top Gun one. This is why creative agencies exist :)