I know the calendar says we’re in the middle of Spring, but it’s also conference season. Or, as your team likely refers to it, the season of a thousand distractions.

Tell me if this sounds familiar

  • Either out of habit, or as a result of effective promotional materials, you are inspired to register for an industry conference.
  • You tell yourself, “If I just pick up one new idea, it’s worth the time and expense.”
  • You pour through the agenda and commit to those sessions that seem most interesting.
  • You attentively attend your sessions, furiously taking notes on all the ideas you need to implement.
  • You hear success story after success story; sometimes from the stage, sometimes during the cocktail reception, and tell yourself, “We need to be doing THAT!”
  • You wander the exhibit hall collecting materials for your next “have-to-have” solution.
  • On the flight home, you start organizing your thoughts and making your list of Things We HAVE To Start Doing:
    • We’ll redo the website
    • We’ll start pushing more voluntary
    • We’ll invest in that new technology
    • It's time hire a cold caller
    • Everyone needs to be blogging
    • We're going hire an internal marketing person
    • We need to rebrand
    • We have to write more self-funded business
    • And the list likely goes on and on and on and on
  • Your excitement builds and, as soon as you land, you send out an urgent all-team meeting invite for Monday morning - “non-optional”.
  • Your excitement continues to build over the weekend and by the time for the newly scheduled team debrief rolls around you can hardly stand it. You proceed to unload everything you learned, your list of new initiatives, the new product brochures, and your excitement of how this is a turning point for the agency.
  • Your excitement reaches a crescendo as you get to the end of your notes. You stop and wait expectantly for the contagious excitement to settle in on the team.
  • Wait for it, wait for it. But it never comes.

Were they even listening?!

If you are one of the luckier agency leaders, your team simply smiles and nods to humor you during your debrief. But, on the way out they whisper to one another, “hold on, this too shall pass.”

If you are one of the less fortunate agency leaders, you have people on your team actively fighting against your ideas.

But why would they resist?

  • Did you choose a bad conference?
  • Were the speakers ineffective?
  • Were the ideas/initiatives wrong?

Who knows? But, none of that matters.

It could have been the best conference ever. The sessions could have been led by the most inspiring and effective speakers possible. The ideas/initiatives could have been EXACTLY what you needed.

Again, it doesn’t matter. There are two primary reasons you were destined for eye-rolling and in-fighting as soon as you registered for the event. And they’re closely related.

First, you never followed through on the ideas you brought back from countless previous conferences. When they say “this too shall pass” they are, of course, correct.

Second, and more importantly, nobody, including you, can say why any of these new initiatives are necessary or even a good idea. Nobody knows where they fit into the big picture because you have never taken the time to clarify what that big picture actually looks like.

The BIG picture

We all recognize it's scary times in the industry. Your team needs to know they are part of an organization doing what is necessary to provide a secure future. They need a vision of where you are leading the agency. They need to understand the big picture.

And, I’m not talking about some flowery vision statement you wordsmith, frame, and hang on the wall. I’m talking about clearly describing the agency you MUST grow into in order to survive and even position yourself to dominate your more distracted competitors.

Everyone on the team needs to know the answers to the following:

  • What kind of net Growth Rate will you achieve?
  • What level of Profitability will ensure your ability to make necessary investments?
  • How will your Value Proposition evolve to meet the changing/increasing demands of clients?
  • What Resources/Solutions will you need to access?
  • How will you Market and Sell your services?
  • Which Skills/Behaviors need to be developed and nurtured among your team?
  • How will the Team Structure have to evolve?

Implement with a purpose

The collective answers to these questions will keep you focused and blind you to distracting ideas. When you keep your team focused on your vision and regularly provide progress reports, you will find everyone doing more of the right activities and less of the wrong ones.

Your team is already crazy busy. They quite literally don’t have time to just add new initiatives. Before you ask yourself what you need to start doing, you have to ask the question,

“What are we going to stop doing in order to make room for new activities?”

When you take the time to share with your team where you are going, why it’s important, how you will get there; when you’re honest about how they will be impacted and expected to contribute to the journey; and when you’re sensitive to their workload, magic happens. You will find that your team will stop fighting against your initiatives and start fighting with you to put them in place.

Why? It’s simple. They now understand where each new initiative fits into the bigger picture, and they understand how it’s in their best interest for the implementation to be successful.

Vision: it’s not just for conferences!

This doesn’t just apply to conferences, it applies to every situation in which you are potentially introduced to a new idea.

The new idea may come from a blog post, an update on LinkedIn, a TED talk, or a sales pitch from a new vendor. If you don’t have clarity as to where you are going, why it’s important to get there, and how you are going to get there, you’ll struggle separating the next truly great initiative from the next frustrating distraction.

Without that clarity, you’ll find yourself buying into every "quick-fix" initiative that comes along, wasting both time and money. Sound familiar? I was afraid of that.


Photo by luanateutzi

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