jason oke

If you’re not in awe, you’re not paying attention.

Catching my breath

So I’m starting to realize that building a new agency is hard. As the observant among you will have noticed, I’ve had to let blogging fall by the wayside for a while due to lots of work and traveling.

The volume of traveling has some carbon footprint issues that make me feel icky. But one of the side benefits is getting to catch up with friends. Back in December I ran into Richard Band, an old planning friend who’s now at Egg Strategy in Colorado, and had breakfast with Ed Cotton in San Francisco. And this past week I had a fun evening of planning drinks with Leland, Seth, and Noah in NY. Leland’s also in the midst of starting up new agency so it was good to compare notes on things like balancing chaos with process.

In years of working at big multi-national agencies, I sometimes found the sheer amount of process and structure got in the way of getting things done. I felt this becoming more and more of a problem as it’s become necessary for brands (and agencies) to be more nimble.

I still stand by that assessment, but I’m realizing the other side of the coin now – there’s a lot of value of process and structure which I took for granted. One of my reasons for joining Juniper Park was the chance to create something new without decades of legacy structures all around. But being at a new agency with no process (yet) makes things twice as hard as they need to be, because you have to do things while also figuring out how to do them, all at once.

We’re in the enviable position for a new agency of having a lot of amazing and challenging client work already, but it’s come at the expense of having time to establish a way of working (or a website or even business cards) – we just rolled up our sleeves and started. It’s been fine so far – a smart, energetic group people can muddle their way along for a while, and the chaotic energy is actually really invigorating and inspiring at times, like a high-wire act.

But it’s clear that this a way of working can’t be sustained forever – it’s also draining and inefficient. So the next challenge is to stop and find some time to build some structure into things. I’ve come full circle. And I’m left wondering whether it’s possible to reign in the chaos a bit, but keep the energy?

Filed under: Juniper, planning

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