A Change is Gonna Come

I’m with Sam Cooke on this one.  For over a year, I’ve been working on a project that represents a massive sea change for our agency.  A fundamental, sweeping, no-turning-back kind of change that I’m not really sure even those who have been proponents thus far fully understand.  Fortunately, our boss does or I’d just save this post for reading at my plank walking (generally, change agents rapidly morph from gurus to pariahs when the changes are implemented).

So, as I spend this weekend working on the training that will make the promise of transformation an irrevocable reality, it dawns on me that the hard part hasn’t started yet.  Sure, giving up most of my nights and weekends for over a year to help ensure we pull this off cleanly has been exhausting—but absolutely worth it.  However, the first rays of the real hard part, the “I was behind this until I realized it impacts my job” part, are just now peeking over the horizon.

The marketing communications industry finds itself in a perfect storm of a jobless recovery (if, in fact, we’re actually in recovery), the dawning of the Social Age, the rise of the third screen (e.g., smartphones and iPads) and a new inquisitor near the head of the agency selection table (i.e., Procurement).

At the agency level, nobody survives this storm on his or her own.  If we cling to that piece of turf we thought was ours, we’re doomed.  “That’s my job” or “that’s my billable hour” absolutely has to be replaced by “how can I help today?” and “what do I need to learn for us to be successful?” or we’ll never navigate our way to calmer waters.

In any symbiotic environment, the organism dies if the symbiants enter self-preservation mode.  And if the organism dies, things don’t end too well for the symbiants either.  To survive, we have to be willing to surrender preconceptions and historical responsibilities.  We have to embrace the new challenges presented and trust that, for a change, good deeds will not only go unpunished but that the rewards on the other side of transformation are worth the effort, the uncertainty, the self-doubt and the short walk off the long pier.

Agencies that reconfigure to weather the perfect storm will emerge stronger, I believe.  And the marketers we serve will be all the more successful for it.

But first, a change is gonna come.  On behalf of change agents everywhere, please check your pitchforks and torches at the door.



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