I May Not Be Insane After All

I have a new job at Colle+McVoy. A new title. A new job description. In fact, it’s a brand new role at the agency. It’s an exciting time to be here and I’m fortunate to work with amazing people who make me a believer every day. I’ve spent the past three-and-a-half years at the agency and I can honestly say we’re the strongest we’ve ever been from top to bottom. We’ve made significant strides in strengthening our leadership team and have been able to retain the incredible young talent who started their careers as interns at the agency. The momentum is contagious and inspiring.

Back to me and my new job. Director of Interactive Innovation. When I introduce myself as such, one of the first questions asked is, “What does that really mean? What do you do at the agency?” Fair question. I’d ask the same thing. But it’s a question I welcome. It oftentimes spurs a healthy conversation about how organizations are – or are not – adapting their marketing strategies and structures to align with the demands of today’s digitally advanced consumer.

Here’s my take. Agencies must be informed of consumer behavior, cultural and technology trends. Clients expect this. Agencies who are able to take this information and inspire colleagues and clients to challenge the status quo have the advantage. This type of thinking inspires stand out ideas. However, ideas go nowhere without compassionate execution. Agencies who initiate increase the possibility of producing ideas that make a difference. Even if the initial execution of an idea is imperfect, it should still be initiated. By leveraging elastic platforms to execute ideas, agencies are able to continually iterate based on people’s feedback. Innovation happens when agencies are able to effectively inform, inspire, initiate and iterate. To embrace innovation, an agency needs to establish the infrastructure to allow for this to take place. Organizational structure must evolve and people need to be put in a position to champion an innovative mindset. If the infrastructure is built and people are put in a position to lead, innovation will manifest itself across all disciplines at an agency.

This philosophy leads to what I consider to be the purpose of my new role. To keep it simple, I’ve followed Daniel Pink’s lead in defining its purpose in one sentence:

The purpose of the Director of Interactive Innovation is to inform, inspire, initiate and iterate the agency’s interactive marketing and technology products and services.

To be clear, this is not the responsibility of one person. Think of it more as someone who leads and promotes this purpose. Someone who’s accountable to report on whether or not we’re making progress towards our goal. It’s the sum of the parts that will allow us to achieve this purpose, not one person with a title that indicates such.

The next step for me is to outline a detailed strategy that encourages the agency to make progress towards this purpose. In the interim, I’ve been producing more on the informing and inspiring side of the equation. Once we get to the end of the year, I hope to have made progress in all four of the previously outlined phases. I plan on publishing monthly updates here so you can all keep me in check and stay informed of how things are going. This is new territory for the agency and me. And anytime something is done for the first time, failure is inevitable. I believe it’s important to document what we’ve learned from failure to better our chances of making a positive difference moving forward.

I came across this quote from Albert Einstein at Planning-ness last week and it’s stuck in my head ever since. “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” If nothing else, this implies I may not be insane after all and that a difference will be made as a result of my efforts. I consider making a difference a success, regardless of how many failures I'll encounter along the way.