How Media One Group Successfully Navigated Change Management by Focusing on Agency Operations
We sat down with Corey Peck, COO of Media One Group, to discuss how the team successfully navigated change management and record agency growth by focusing first on optimizing operations.
Growth Sparked the Need for Change
As our team continued to grow both locally and by way of a global group, we began tracking the time spent on various day-to-day operations and business reporting. We realized that having separate systems for Sales, Finance, Production, Human Resources, and Operations was often resulting in triplicate data entry and a constant need for manual reconciliation, always trying to find out what team had the “right” data.
Day to day, this chaos looked like:
- Invoices not going out for closed jobs
- Project details not reflecting the client conversations had by our Sales teams
- Versioning issues across the project and financial documents
- Inaccurate cash flow forecasts that did not account for vendor fees that were committed to by producers but not yet invoiced to us
- Reporting that was often 1-2 months out of date
- CRM data differing from active project data (Revenue, Timeline, Billing Plans, Start and End Dates, etc)
- All financial dashboards absent of real-time WIP information
When we began down the path of building Media One Group, we knew we had to undergo a large change by integrating all of our departments together into one system before we could expect to have the same clarity across multiple companies on a global scale.
The Key to Understanding Cash Flow
Consolidating our project management and financial software into Deltek WorkBook was a massive step forward, however, it wasn’t until we also moved our CRM into WorkBook that we were able to fully realize our vision of having anyone in any department all able to get the information they needed, in real-time, and without variations.
Our business uses a Weekly Scorecard to track all of our KPIs, and previously it was almost like doing a mini “Month End” Financial Review on a weekly basis. With all information now in one place, we could finally move our Weekly Scorecard out of Excel and into a real-time dashboard, eliminating all inconsistencies, errors, and manual intervention.
Staying Focused on the Goal
Our business has a clear overarching goal: “By the year 2030, we will be recognized as a “Best Place To Work”, producing award-winning content in over 50 countries, across our 10 global offices, with overall revenue of $100MM.”
Gino Wickman would call this a “10-Year Target”, or you could use Jim Collin’s term of a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal”. No matter what you call it, this goal is illustrated in the artwork on our walls, it’s re-communicated every 3 months in our quarterly town halls, it’s part of the day-one onboarding of any new team member, and so on. The point is that without a clear vision, the road to change will be extremely difficult, and as Lewis Carroll wrote in Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, “if you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
With our vision clear we set the Annual Goals for our company which answers the question “What do we need to accomplish in the next 12 months to hit our overarching goal?” With our Annual Goals set and communicated, every leader on our team is assigned a quarterly 90 Day Objective that they and their teams are accountable for. This allows each person on the team to understand how they can contribute to the company achieving its overarching goal and be successful in small 90 day time periods.
When we took on this large change of integrating into a single system, we had Annual and Quarterly goals attributed to this project. This helped the team understand that the reason we were going through this change - the WHY - was that we could not realistically achieve the specifics of our overarching goal without such a system in place.
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Managing Impact on Company Culture
All change is hard, and people do not like change. We started our journey on migrating to a single system by communicating this to everyone on day one. We supplemented this communication with an illustration created by Brian Brennan of the group Max Potential called the Max Curve.
This curve plots the 6 Phases of change: Cautious Optimism, Floundering, Danger Zone, Heavy Lifting, Momentum, and finally Achievement. Each quarterly town hall, we used this as a way to have an open and honest discussion about how this change was impacting our company culture. The interesting part of the Max Curve is that our WorkBook implementation project could be at one phase, in its Max Curve, and individuals on the team could be at the same phase, lagging behind, or ahead based on their individual Max Curve (see below). By communicating this often we could identify those who were able to be a support network to pull other team members ahead when required.
When you layer on top of this a third Max Curve to represent the overall change that our Agency is going through due to our rapid growth it can get out of control pretty quickly unless you’re on top of it.
During this change, we used a software called OfficeVibe that tracks 10 KPIs of employee engagement and frequently published the results internally to see how our team was holding up against the Max Curve. Sure enough, when it was all said and done, our Employee Engagement surveys followed this curve exactly (see below when we finally got “Momentum”!).
Advice for Agency Leaders Undergoing Change Management
I feel that we were successful in our change because of 3 main reasons.
- We clearly communicated our vision and explained to the team WHY we were going through this change. In doing so, we also explained what this change would mean to them at an individual level which generates the initial buy-in that is so helpful.
- We made it a priority and literally tied our companies’ priorities to make sure this happened. We then assigned individuals specific objectives and tasks around this implementation, creating a culture of accountability and aligning their day-to-day priorities with the companies. Everyone knew that they wouldn’t get in trouble for spending time working on this implementation, in fact they knew it was expected.
- Overcommunicate, overcommunicate, overcommunicate. This applies to the overall vision, the Annual Goals, the Quarterly Objectives, and the Employee Engagement throughout. You may have heard the saying based off of the “Rule of 7”, which is “You need to tell people 7 times before they hear it the first time”. This is absolutely true when working on any aspect of a massive change within your organization.
Learn more about how Media One Group managed record growth in this on-demand webinar: Optimizing Agency Operations In a Downturn: How Media One Group Laid a Solid Foundation to Pivot.
About the Author
Corey is the Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Media One Creative and Media One Group. Since 2012, he has grown Media One Creative’s team of employees and Creators from 2 to over 1200 and has been recognized as Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year, Top Under 30, Marketing Agency of The Year, Top 50 Marketing and Advertising Companies, and is on the Financial Times The Americas' Fastest Growing Company and Top Growing Company in Canada lists.
Corey is also an award-winning Executive Producer who has led over 400 content projects for the world's most recognizable brands such as Amazon, Hershey’s, Huggies, Nike, Budweiser, Crush, SAP, EY, YMCA, BMO, Scotiabank, and dozens of others.