10 guiding principles for 10 fantastic years
In 2007 I set out to create my kind of creative business with a model unique in the IC marketplace. Arguably more important than the ‘how’ this would work differently was – as with any service business – the ‘way’ we worked. Over the past decade (which has just flown by) 10 guiding principles have evolved. I like them because they aren’t passing trends or buzzwords, they are proper, solid cornerstones of the way we deliver our business every day.
See what you think. If you continue reading I’m sure you won’t consider these principles things of particular rocket science. In reality they are authentic ingredients for a pretty successful creative service and travel well beyond the IC agency world. Well-worn, hewn and tested through many hundreds of projects containing thousands of hours of creative blood, sweat and even the occasional tear…
Understanding is key. If you don’t ask questions, the bottom-line is that you probably don’t understand your client’s team, organisation or challenge well enough. From day one, we encourage all new joiners to ask plenty of questions.
In today’s collaborative world, teams and teamwork are everywhere and in everything. Getting everyone in a team to play to their respective strengths is the crucial bit, coupled with an awareness that we are only as good as our weakest link, so everyone has a responsibility to make sure their efforts are their best efforts.
My grandad asked me once: ‘what’s the point of doing something half-heartedly, do your best or don’t do it at all’ – we were planting potatoes in his allotment at the time but you get the point. Quality work produced through hard graft and attention to detail will always be remembered.
Going the extra mile rubs off. Everyone appreciates that little extra care or thought. That’s great service and isn’t it increasingly on the decline? If your client knows you’ll pull up trees for them they will want you on their side and they will keep coming back.
More than anything else, ‘trust’ is at the heart of all business situations. And that’s especially true for internal communication. Once a client’s ‘circle of trust’ is broken, it’s extremely hard to win it back again.
A learning mindset enables you to continually refresh and adapt to new challenges.
Good friends are honest, caring, dependable, trusted, supportive and fun to be around – lasting client and colleague relationships are built on this!
Companies of all shape and size have a responsibility to make a positive difference to their own people, their customers and the wider world around them. Sometimes doing the right thing is not the easiest option and it certainly isn’t the least painful. But hopefully if you take a long term view, the value to the business and its reputation far outweighs shorter term commercial gains.
Complacency is a killer in business. Warning! Here comes the footballing anecdote: Sir Alex Ferguson, the most successful Premiership manager in history (and I’m not a Man United fan), refers to something called ‘challenger mentality’. Always see yourself as a number 2, not a number 1 – the minute you think you are the best, you are dead in the water.
Last but definitely not least, if you don’t take pride in your work, your team and your business then what’s the point of coming to work every morning? Everyone should see the company they work for as they would their own business. The emotional connection to what you do for a living is the absolute critical step to personal fulfilment – and that’s the very essence of true employee engagement.
Partner, 44 Communications
Our guiding principles
1. Ask questions – understanding is key
2. Work as a team – get the best out of everyone
3. Strive for excellence in and excellence out
4. Deliver a great personal service – go the extra mile
5. Always keep the promises you make
6. Learn, apply, and learn again
7. Our business is founded on the traits of friendship (trust, respect, honesty, care, loyalty, fun)
8. We do the right thing for our clients and our colleagues
9. We know we are only as good as our last job – challenger mentality
10. We are proud to be 44