Kaizen supercharged.

Here is how many messages started post the Publicis announcement. ‘Wow some big changes down at Publicis! Hope everything is OK??’ Interesting that people start with concern, lovely as that is, it gets me thinking about change and how it is perceived.

As regards our restructure, the first thing that strikes me about the amazing journey that Maurice has kicked off is that people have started talking about Publicis and not SMG, ZO etc. Very quickly the marketplace is referring to Publicis and to me that’s a positive, because it shows that this is not one agency, one country or discipline reorganising itself or ‘shifting the deck chairs around’ as one journo put it, this is a wholesale restructure and purposefully so. The spirit of Kaizen or in other words continuous improvement, does not do it justice. This is Kaizen supercharged, a reimagining the like of which the industry has not seen.

Disruption is something many talk about at length, it forms part of every presentation but in almost all circumstances the disruption is one company doing it to another. There are few examples of where a company disrupts itself. Apple is the highest profile example of one who has, but there not many others and thats what is so exciting about the Publicis strategy. Publicis have recognised that the world has been disrupted by technology, people are disrupting the industry with this technology and the advertisers in particular who are looking to their partners and partnerships are asking for change. The trouble is many are not listening.

Publicis is listening and Maurice has taken steps that are unheard of in a group of this size, tens of thousands of employees across all disciplines being  aligned to the benefit of the advertisers, importantly being encouraged to embrace change and have a different dialogue with our advertisers. A dialogue not driven by silos, P&Ls and other self made boundaries. Of course there are challenges with this but the momentum in the business is tangible. At its heart is is reviewing relationships with a fresh set of eyes and thinking to themselves, how could we do this differently? We hope that for our advertisers this becomes an exciting opportunity.

Change.

As someone who started out in digital, a founder of programmatic media in an agency group, part of a few iterations of VivaKi restructures, change has been part of my DNA and for sure will focus heavily in my memoirs!  It creates opportunity for those who go with it, it’s a mindset that where one embraces it, supports it, good things come, perhaps not today, next month, but they come. As someone who mentors at UCL and loves doing the speakers for schools programme, my number one piece of advice is to embrace change as it will keep coming!

Publicis Groupe is a huge group, it contains so many smart people and Maurice has unleashed those talented people from top to bottom, the dialogue can be different both internally and with our clients and I am seeing it happen already. It can be destabilising for some but its empowering for many and the next 12 months are going to see great things for the Groupe as we start to socialise the plans with clients, as the strategy lights up, we will see the emails saying ‘wow! Great win.’ The news that Asda chose a Publicis duo of media and creative seems to be a huge validation of the plan, even if we are at the earliest stages of that plan.

My own role is changing and we are excited about the fact that we are creating a single Publics performance operation, Performics. I am confident that we will see great things both from Performics and the wider Publicis Media and I look forward to my part in that! As Bowie once said ch-ch-changes..

 

 

 

Creating change – it is not all plain sailing

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Two days in Chicago at the VivaKi Nerve Center Management meeting and one thing really struck me, that change even when it is really needed is pretty tough. Key to getting through it though is by having a plan and sticking to it. The VNC started in 2008 and we were laughed at, Curt Hecht who leaves us this month was there at the start and he recalled some of the comments at the time. That plan though has been sturdy and continues to be at the core of everything we do and it is resistant to country whims and individual blocks and that change we are bringing can not be stopped now.

VNC was a slow burn Internationally but in recent times things have accelerated rapidly. Over the last two days we have had people from the VNC from US to Australia and everywhere in between and each person was ringing the bell on the old models, it is time to step up and be prepared to change. Only two years ago we had VNC in US, UK, Dubai and Spain. Add to that now Italy, France, Germany, Australia, China, Russia and more to come, amazing growth.

Trouble with change is that it unsettles and some people don’t want it and are willing to slow things down and say ‘it’s not like that here’ and excuses to that effect. The encouraging thing though is that those people are becoming far and few between now and most people have started to embrace. I met recently with Maurice Levy and it was clear where he expects to see development, what areas should be moving faster and that is the biggest encouragement of all when it comes from the top.

Change your mind or change the people was a phrase mentioned by someone recently and I agree. I have always loved change, it is so exciting and creates so much opportunity so I assume everyone will but I am afraid that is not always the case. The VNC over the last two days has presented some amazing work and propositions and it is no wonder it has been copied by most of the other groups – whether it was market leading Partnerships, the worlds first and largest trading desk, driving innovation through The Pool, VNC has lead and shown the people laughing behind their hands that in fact it has become a blueprint.

The work we are doing with our agencies is moving so fast in many many markets and the ambition in the room has been palpable so expect to see more and more from this group over the coming weeks, months and years.

See you Chicago, it has been a pleasure (apart from your terrible airport).