Posts Tagged ‘Difference’
26th April 13
Author: Ben Fennell, CEO, BBH London
As I write, we’ve just completed a six month, ‘in house’ course on Leadership for 30 of BBH’s finest. The course is a tangible acknowledgement that leadership skills are not simply ‘picked up’ over time. But that they have to be developed, they have to be taught, they have to be learnt.
Throughout my career I’ve been a keen student. I’ve always tried to observe, emulate and customise the leadership behaviours I most admire. From mentors, from clients, from within BBH, from history, politics and sport.
There are a couple of interesting things about our course:
- It is totally bespoke to BBH, by that I mean it is focused on developing the skills and tools to succeed in our culture.
- It is cross discipline, so in attendance are strategists, suits, producers, and those historically reluctant trainees, CDs.
- It is personal, because leadership always is. I invited the 16 speakers, 13 BBH and 3 clients, to talk about the leadership attribute that I most associate them with, eg ‘making good and bad decisions’, ‘leadership in tough times’, ‘creating positive pressure’.
- Having been exposed to a whole series of very personal, and very diverse leadership orthodoxies, one has come out head and shoulders above all others.
The power of difference. All the delegates have told me that a better understanding of their own unique strengths, and a strategy to amplify those, is the key to creating higher impact, and greater followership in the workplace.
Despite almost all of the delegates’ pre course perceptions to the contrary, they have found that BBH is packed with a range of very different types of leaders.
I think this has probably always been the case at BBH. It was the complimentary differences in personality type, style and delivery that made our founders John, Nigel and John such a compelling cocktail.
It is interesting to me that, somehow, as we’ve grown, people have started to believe that there is only one way to lead and succeed at BBH, one leadership archetype: competitive, quality obsessed and, yes, relentlessly dissatisfied.
People like myself may well have propagated that myth. Which is ironic, because I know exactly how much I depend on the difference offered to me by my closest partners. Leaders with any sense of self awareness learn quickly to assemble a team that complements their strengths and compensates for their weaknesses.
One simple example. I think in metaphors and references from sport and film while Jim Carroll, our UK Chairman, uses renaissance art and soul music. I want our people to be exposed to both, and a hundred more besides.
Jim spoke at my 40th, he stood in front of 100 people, only 10 of whom he knew and who knew him. It would be fair to say that it was a fairly rowdy and sporty crowd. He won over his audience, and nailed me with his opening line:
“Ben and I share not one personality trait”. Genius.
And that’s the point. I want our company to be filled with all kinds of different leaders: visionaries, operators, closers, nurturers, warriors, enthusiasts, rocks.
It’s the celebration of difference that makes a culture powerful and unique. It is the managed tension between different types of thinkers and personalities, that gets us to our best answers. I urge every new joiner to “keep their edges”.
I think it was Warren G Bennis that famously said that “Failing organisations are usually over managed and under led.”At BBH we want more leadership, in all its forms, at every level of our company.
I am always energised when I face the company and see a whole new cohort coming through.
I wonder if the next great horizon for our business should be less defined by our outputs: digital, social, CSR. And more by our inputs. By developing a generation of industry leaders to inspire staff, clients, and most important of all, the consumer.
The longer I do my job the more I believe that ‘Inspiration’ is the petrol you put into the tank of a creative business. It’s our fuel. It is leadership’s most fundamental obligation.
Of one thing I am certain. You can’t possibly inspire others unless you are 100 percent clear about the single question we started, and have focused, our whole course on:
‘What kind of leader do you want to be?’
1st July 11
Last Friday in Cannes, BBH’s own Sir John Hegarty gave the following speech co-authored with co-founder Nigel Bogle (Nigel was unfortunately unable to join him due to illness).
The premise of their speech is powerfully simple: growth needs space. Space needs difference.
Of course we could simply have put the video of Sir John’s speech here on the blog, alongside the slideshare. However, as @jeremyet puts it: ‘given the opportunity to celebrate the power of difference, we wondered whether we could develop something fast that would give the viewer of the filmed speech a different and enhanced experience. Cue vidazzl, which brings to life relevant keyword searches from across the web as you watch the speech.
We’re planning on making this a platform where anyone can upload a speech and display it in a, well, vidazzled version, but for now you can view Sir John’s speech from the Cannes Festival here and, of course, let us know your thoughts on the talk, on the presentation and on the difference.’
Gabor (Creative Technologist) adds a note on the choice of technology and the time frame:
Jeremy Ettinghausen – Creative Director
Gabor Szalatnyai – Creative Technologist
Nick Fell – Strategist
Felipe Guimaraes – Art Director
Lambros Charalambous – Copywriter
Adam Oppenheimer – Art Director
Joe Oppenheimer – Copywriter
Eric Chia – Head of Digital Design, Addictive Pixel
Keith Bone – Digital Designer, Addictive Pixel
Romy Miller – Team Director
3rd June 11
Posted in Books
“Do not go gentle into that good night, but rage against the dying of the light”
~ Dylan Thomas, quoted in Hegarty in Advertising
Sir John’s book, “Hegarty on Advertising”, goes on sale on Monday.
He would be first person to say this is no ‘how-to’ manual, but rather his own story: packed with no holds barred opinion, behind the scenes anecdotes and strongly held principles to work by. There’s no crystal ball gazing, instead a distillation of what he’s learned in 45 years in the business. As such we found it a dose in humility for the here and now: a grip on history that, as ever, sets the future in context.
Despite his protestation this isn’t a manual, several ideas and themes emerge that have a hell of a lot to teach the rest of us: what makes a successful start-up, the humanization of the workplace, how to approach technology and stay abreast of innovation, the role of difference and ‘creative destruction’, the impact of globalization, why ideas matter and more.
We asked him to shed a little more light on some of these themes. In doing so, we thought we’d see if we could put one of his most firmly held views to the test; his belief that “words are a barrier to communication”. We have no idea if this is going to work, but here goes – our first interview response without words.
What do you mean by “creative destruction”?
“Creativity isn’t an occupation, it’s a pre-occupation” – can you explain what you mean by this?
If you started an agency today, what would it be like?
Is there a single piece of work you think defines you?
Where do you look for inspiration?
You say the way creative thinking gets deployed “will always be a continually moving target.. to nail your colours to any particular medium or technology will sow the seeds of your destruction”. So how should we engage with technology?
And, finally, you say you can’t name all the people you’d like to thank, but if there had to be one (okay, perhaps a couple), who would it be?
Sketches are by Sir John Hegarty
For more about the book: www.hegartyonadvertising.com