Savage counsel – remaining competitive

Chris SavageChris Savage tackles your career and agency dilemmas in his weekly Encore advice column.

Hi Chris,

The change in our industry is non stop and it’s hard not to find it overwhelming. Tell me, how can agencies get ahead of the game? Is there a simple formula for staying competitive and relevant?
There is no simple formula – just an unrelenting persistence to embrace change. As Macquarie Telecom CEO David Tudehope told me in answer to my question about the secret of his success: “It’s the ability to adapt and change that underpins success.”

To keep ahead of the game, start by adopting and taking to heart the word Edward De Bono invented and told us about at Cannes in 2010 – EBNE. It means Excellent, But Not Enough. Everything we do has to be viewed as EBNE. We need to aggressively look for improvement, everywhere.

Futurist Mike Walsh, CEO of innovation research agency Tomorrow, crystallized this thought at a conference we were both speaking at in Fiji recently when he advised the audience what to do about change to ensure businesses survive. Six little powerful words: Think new. Think big. Think quick.

Think about your business. Is it obsessed with developing new products and services that your clients need and will buy today and tomorrow? Are these big ideas – game-changing ideas in some instances – where the nature of what you do evolves to secure a valuable and sustainable future? And are you moving fast enough – is there real urgency and deep intent to drive that change quickly?

At STW, we are genuinely obsessed with ensuring we deliver today, and we have a focus on tomorrow. Our chief digital officer David Trewern is obsessed with the idea of every one of our companies, every year, generating at least 10 per cent of revenue from new services – services that did not exist in their portfolio the year before. Recently he’s been upping that percentage. And he’s right.

And what’s the biggest barrier to change? Quite simply, a great last result.

I recently read a comment about the need to digitalise in all industries by Rohan Lund, who’d just been appointed chief operating officer at Seven West Media. He said: “The glory days are the biggest enemy, not digital.” He’s right. Nothing is more dangerous to survival than a great last result. It makes us lethargic and complacent.

Never rest on your laurels. David Ogilvy talked about ‘divine discontent’. Remember this – we are only as good as our NEXT result.

Chris Savage is the chief operating officer of STW Group. His blog, Wrestling Possums with Chris Savage, can be found at chrisjohnsavage.com

Encore issue 12

This story first appeared in the weekly edition of Encore available for iPad and Android tablets. Visit encore.com.au for a preview of the app or click below to download.


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