The Google To Adlandia: Be Lean And Agile Like Us, And You’ll Be Rich Like Us

Earlier this summer, a technology company executive suggested I look into “lean and agile development.” Seeing a parallel between our work environments, he thought it might help me improve the way I make work. I’ve been intrigued by the idea ever since, but I probably need to read a book about it to get a fuller understanding. Feel free to suggest one, or to leave a detailed comment here.

According to Wikipedia, lean development can be summarized by seven principles, very close in concept to lean manufacturing principles:

  • Eliminate waste
  • Amplify learning
  • Decide as late as possible
  • Deliver as fast as possible
  • Empower the team
  • Build integrity in
  • See the whole

Sounds like a productive framework. If advertising agencies merely “eliminated waste,” a marked improvement would be realized. In an interesting twist, The Google is now pushing its own “Agile Creativity” playbook on friendly agency personnel.

According to Rupal Parekh at Ad Age, the playbook recommends to agencies a revamp of the way account and creative teams are structured and operate, a focus on rethinking how agency creative briefs are written, and embracing tight deadlines (with a suggestion that companies should always operate in “hackathon mode”).

AKQA, 72andSunny, BBH and Big Spaceship, as well as Deutsch, Arnold, TBWA/Chiat/Day and DeepLocal are some of the agencies Google is pitching “agile” to. The man on the mound is former CEO of Enfatico, Torrence Boone.

Mr. Boone told Ad Age, “We’ve been ramping up our efforts to engage with creative agencies upstream — in some cases before the brief is written — so we maximize the possibilities unlocked by the intersection of creativity and technology.” In other words, The Google and all its data is complicated shit. Thus, the need for a series of discussions/tutorials.

George Parker of Adscam reminds us that Boone formally led “the biggest fucking disaster in WPP history.” That may be, but can’t a guy recover from a wipeout?

Now, getting ad agency leaders to embrace concepts like “build integrity in” and “see the whole,” that could be an arduous and lengthy climb.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.