How to build a Beta Agency in three steps

Masaru Kitakaze, Worldwide CCO of Hakuhodo, shared his guide on ‘How to Build a Beta Agency’. A new agency structure built around the principles of Silicon Valley and prototyping.

Step 1- Create the way we create

Choose something core to your business and re-create the way you do it. Less is more. Create maximum impact with minimum action.

For Japanese agency Kettle, who were trying to create more integrated campaigns, they were held back by hierarchical and confusing  job titles so they got rid of them.

Now everyone has a job field or specialism but not a title. This flattened their hierarchy, encouraged collaboration and made everyone accountable for creativity.

Step 2- Start pivot prototyping

Beta agencies need to have two legs. A pivot leg that’s fixed in a core discipline and one to explore new frontiers. The secret here is to give anything and everything a go but always in the context of your core business.

Kettle refers to their work as “method neutral”. Kettle is no longer just an advertising agency, they’ve published books, made chandeliers and latterly wrote science papers on the oxytocin levels of Mums to sell a beauty cream. Their frontier leg has moved them into other industries. They will always be an advertising agency but next week they might also be lawyers, hotel managers or even dolphin trainers.

Step 3- Have a go at being the world’s first failure at something

Try something new, push it so far that you will be the first person to have ever got it wrong. Once you’ve done it wrong, keep refining it until it works. Make sure you cultivate a culture where failure has no shame. Create a culture where people can really test and learn.

Note for next week: go and have a word with OMD UK’s CEO Dan Clays about trying something new and awesome!

Agency Beta


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