A clash of civilisations: The challenge of integrating The Monkeys into Accenture

Accenture's move on creative agency The Monkeys, and the inevitable culture clash between the two organisations, represents one of the major challenges facing businesses globally – how to successfully integrate science with art, the analytical with the creative. In this guest post, Jason Rose looks at how the two companies can come together without destroying the very thing Accenture was seeking: creativity.

The recent acquisition of The Monkeys by Accenture has generated a lot of discussion within the advertising industry with several commentators convinced the two companies’ cultures are fundamentally incompatible.

Jason Rose

Given that consultancies like Accenture are the very people major corporates call in to help them integrate newly acquired businesses, they certainly should have the experience necessary to successfully integrate a 120-person creative shop.

The acquisition does, however, pose a unique integration test for Accenture because the more successfully it integrates The Monkeys, the greater the risk that it will destroy the very thing that it was seeking to acquire: creativity.

Having worked in both creative agencies and professional services firms, it is certainly true that their cultures are very different. I’m not sure whether the senior management of Accenture will see the productivity value of two creatives shooting the breeze around a foosball table.

Yet the challenge of integrating The Monkeys into Accenture is a far larger story than this one transaction. It is, in fact, one of the major challenges facing businesses globally – how to successfully integrate science with art, the analytical with the creative.

Consultancies like Accenture in recent years have discovered that the explosion in data has allowed them to move to the centre of companies’ marketing functions by playing to their traditional strengths – the application of structured and analytical rigour.

What these firms are now also realising is that the analytical is only one half of the conversation. The number crunching puts companies in the right place at the right time to talk to the right customers. Once they’re there, however, they still need to be able to surprise and delight to win the sale. That’s creativity.

Bringing these two worlds and mindsets together is difficult but the most successful businesses have always recognised the value of being able to do so effectively.

Take Apple as an example. There are fascinating accounts of the clash of cultures between the company’s designers and engineers as they battled to finish the first prototype of the iPhone. Doors were slammed and meetings stormed out of amid much yelling and abuse.

Nevertheless, the iPhone prototype – an amazing blend of design and engineering – was not only completed, but the product has since gone on to sell over one billion units.

I would argue that a key value driver of Apple is its ability to successfully integrate the often-conflicting cultures of art and science. It would also seem that doing so effectively involves a willingness to embrace conflict rather than trying to avoid it.

Therefore, commentators talking about the inevitable clash of cultures between Accenture and The Monkeys are only focusing on half of the story. For this deal to succeed, the two parties need to embrace their clash of cultures, not hide from it. They need to celebrate their differences and butt heads in the pursuit of greatness.

This will take leadership and courage and the perfect balance of ego and humility. There will inevitably be moments when both parties will question whether they made the right decision in pursuing the transaction. These are the moments of truth that separate glory from failure.

Will they succeed? Time will tell. But one thing is clear: if they do, it will not only boost the breadth of Accenture’s product offering to clients. It will also serve as a powerful case study that they have mastered a key value creation challenge facing global business today: successfully marrying marketing science and art.

Jason Rose is co-founder of marketing services investment company Ambient Ventures


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