Change Management for Creative Agencies

It’s no secret that change is needed for any organisation that wants to thrive and grow. Creative agencies aren’t any different. If you want your agency to reach its most profitable state, and hit other goals, big changes are likely to be needed. But what’s the difference between changes that stick, and those that fail? Having a solid process for change management is absolutely key. This post explores the concept of change management, and how it can best be implemented in creative agencies like yours.

What is change management?

Change management is a flexible discipline that can change depending on where and how it is needed. However, in simple terms, it is all about ensuring every area of, and individual in, a business is equipped with what they need to go through business changes and come out the other side stronger and ready to do their part to help the business reach its goals.

What every individual needs to go through this process can differ, so it can be quite complex. This is where specific methodologies, such as the RACI matrix outlined below, can help. There’s a common misconception that change management is all about communication- and how hard can that be? But, it goes deeper than that. While it focuses on people within an organisation, there’s also a strong element of ensuring that technologies, systems, and clients are prepared for the change. 

So, if you want your creative agency to grow, it will need to change, and often quickly. If you want those changes to be successful, effective change management must be in place. When it’s not in place, you may be wasting precious time and resources, which is never positive when it comes to improving profitability. 

Why do creative agencies in particular need change management?

Most creative agencies are made up of lots of moving parts. There’s the creative side, usually encompassing any number of roles such as designers, social media experts, photographers, copywriters, and so on. These people are often highly talented at their jobs, but may struggle with following rigid processes, especially where change is involved

Then, most creative agencies also have people who work more on the operations side of things. While these people will have a good understanding of the creative work, they’re usually more focussed on the day-to-day runnings of the agency and ensuring that it can be profitable. There can be some overlap between these two camps of people, but of course everyone is an individual. This means that all sorts of conflicting needs, wants, and priorities will be present. Add to this the need for new or updated systems, technologies, and ways of working, and it’s a recipe for confusion and chaos if not executed properly.

Clients can also be notoriously fussy! They will need to be prepared for the change to take place. Of course, change is usually a good thing, but it can take some work to persuade clients who are used to something else. Effective change management can also be used to prepare clients and ensure they are able to navigate the changes and see the real value in them. 

Creative agencies are unique compared to other businesses due to the fact that, in order to be as successful as possible, they need to strike the right balance between excellent creative work and profitability. Having good change management systems in place, such as the RACI matrix, can really help with this. To find out more about this, click here to read my blog: Creative led vs commercial led agencies.

The RACI matrix

RACI stands for Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed. As we’ve already briefly touched upon, it’s an effective methodology for setting out who is doing what in a project. To further outline the four components:

Responsible people are those whose responsibility it is to complete the task, i.e. they do the required work. There can be, and often is, more than one person who is assigned as Responsible.

Accountable people are those who are in charge of the task’s accurate completion. It is common for team members to be both Accountable and Responsible in the RACI matrix. However, there should only be one person who is ultimately deemed Accountable for the task at hand. 

Those who are Consulted are the people whose opinion is needed and matters for that specific task. They are typically the experts in that specific area, but they may not be involved in the actual execution of the work.

Anybody who is Informed will be kept up-to-date on the project at key points, however their input is not sought.

At its core, RACI is actually fairly straightforward. Normally, it takes the form of a table that outlines each stage of the project. Then, each person in the agency can be assigned a letter depending on whether they are to be responsible for, accountable for, consulted on, or informed of that aspect. 

What are the benefits of the RACI matrix for creative agencies?

Ustilsing RACI for change management in creative agencies can have many benefits. For example:

  1. Communication

While effective change management isn’t all about communication, it’s a very important part. Using the RACI matrix makes communication easy. Everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing, but also what others are working on and when. This can save time and ease confusion, helping projects to be more streamlined.

  1. A streamlined process

Indeed, using RACI can streamline the core change management process as a whole. I am a firm believer in streamlined processes for creative agencies. Creative people do their best work when they have lean processes in place to guide them, but still allow creative freedom. You can read more about this in my blog, How reducing processes can improve your creative agency’s output and increase your profitability.

I believe that this applies to change management as well as more general processes. The more streamlined the change management process is, the easier it will be for everyone to follow without feeling like their creativity is being stifled. The key to good change management is ensuring that the changes are implemented positively in the long-term, and if everyone in the agency is on board, this becomes far more straightforward.

  1. Help everyone to be on the same page

Similarly, as I’ve already mentioned, most creative agencies are made up of lots of talented people that all perform very different roles. As such, it can be hard to have all of their thoughts aligned. Using the RACI matrix can help alleviate this problem, by clearly setting out what needs to be done by who, and when certain people can take more of a back seat. This can reduce conflicting opinions from arising and ensure greater harmony throughout your team as important changes take place.

  1. Smooth transitions

When changes take place within a business, there are often key points where projects or tasks may be handed over to different people or departments. If this isn’t executed properly, things can start to slip, tasks may be lost, and change management overall may suffer. However, the RACI matrix clearly and simply lays out what is to be handed over, to who, and when, to make these transitions as smooth as possible to the benefit of the project.

  1. Prioritises resources

While big changes are often vital for a creative agency to grow, there are finite resources with which to implement these changes. However, the RACI matrix can help you to allocate the resources to the key areas, and make sure that enough are available to help the changes go smoothly. 

Conclusion

Overall, effective change management is vital for any agency that wants to maximise their growth and profitability. Implementing change management can get complex, but using the RACI matrix can certainly help to unify teams and ensure communication is as clear as possible. 

However, change management is only one aspect of building a profitable creative agency. There are plenty of elements that must be looked at in conjunction with each other to give your agency the best change of long-term success. You can read more about this in my blog, There’s no silver bullet for improving creative agency profitability. 

For support in your agency’s growth and other challenges, you may want to consider taking on the services of an outside expert such as myself. I will work with you to create a tailored solution that directly addresses your specific issues and goals, to help your agency through periods of positive change. For more information, please click here to visit my website, or click here to get in touch today.

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April 18, 2021
 • 
6 minutes
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