In the Agility Game, Size Matters

November 19, 2013

In Talladega Nights, Ricky Bobby’s motto throughout his life was, “If you ain’t first, you’re last.” OK, it might have come from his intoxicated dad, but he wasn’t far off…you have to be quick to win. Unfortunately, the bigger you are, the more difficult it is to stay agile.

This was the theme of a panel at a recent GigaOm meet-up in Denver where entrepreneurs, tech geeks and investors gathered to chat about emerging technologies and the Denver investment scene.

As they talked about how agility is one of the biggest advantages of start-ups – the ability to point out problems or opportunities quickly, make decisions fast and move quickly – it was clear that this applies directly to PR as well.

You have the large agencies with hundreds or thousands of employees with offices around the world, you have the small agencies with maybe a dozen or so employees, and you have the in-betweeners – the mid-size agencies.

Each one has their own advantages, but if an agency isn’t agile, it loses a lot of value, both for itself and its clients. And agility can’t be faked or “turned on.” It’s a culture that agencies need to cognitively and proactively foster – especially larger agencies. It’s easier for smaller and mid-size agencies to hold an all-hands call on short notice, send out a mass emails to each other, quickly scale up or scale down for an account or shift strategies to capitalize on new developments. But, for larger agencies, they have to constantly cultivate a fast-moving environment without overwhelming their employees.

It’s a balance, and if it’s not a priority, some agencies could find themselves fixing the same problems large enterprises have, like groups working in silos and not communicating with each other, teams duplicating efforts, and issues going unsolved because there’s no accountability or because there are too many layers in between the problem and the person who can fix it.

From tech start-ups to PR agencies, companies want to grow, but if they can’t move quickly, bigger isn’t better.

In fact, Barokas has been growing over the last several months – we even opened a new office – and one reason I think has allowed us to stay agile is our weekly “mixers.” These are quick informal meetings where the whole office gathers (virtually or physically) over lunch to chat about what’s going on, what’s been successful, upcoming opportunities, suggestions, etc. It’s been incredibly helpful, especially to us in in the new Boulder office!

So how do you make sure your team is staying agile? Meetings? Email updates? Tell us in the comments below!


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