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Digital Marketing Consultancy

Culture Change, Leadership and Growth

Digital Marketing Consultancy Case Study

  • Situation

    • We were called in to help this digital agency which had grown from kitchen table to 300 people strong in the space of decade. The founding owners (a married couple) had tied their lifestyle to the business and inadvertently adopted a command and control style that was stifling the development pathways of their young and enterprising talent. Questionable decision making had led to significant employee churn (the wrong ones were staying) ; three mergers had failed; two buyouts had ended in acrimony and their growth had stalled dramatically/ They were also saddled with a long lease in the most expensive part of the City of London.
  • Complication

    • Upon speaking with the senior leaders, it became apparent that they instinctively knew that they had become both problem and solution and had somehow adopted a hero-leader style at work and an A-lister lifestyle at home. The dynamic between them was disempowering their colleagues, especially the Operations Director.
  • Resolution

    • We initially took a light touch diagnostic approach, speaking with the leadership team in 1;1s as well as their emerging talent, to understand their personal vision for the business, career aspirations and undertake a mini MOT of the organisation’s strengths and blind spots. This helped us create the burning platform for change which we then discussed in a frank three-way exchange with the shareholders (CEO, his wife the Marketing Head and the Operations Director).
    • It became clear that the latter was on the verge of leaving if this last attempt to change failed as he had been exasperated by the previous transformation efforts. We then prioritised recruiting a savvy FD and profiled the top team to understand their strengths and blind spots, using this information to explore the team dynamics and enabling a recruitment that would complement the team but also challenge in the right way. Finally, we expanded the diagnostic to include the pillars of talent in the organisation across their very varied demographic.
    • They cited the culture and physical environment as a key blocker, some having to live in squats to afford to work there., while the founders drove to work in sports cars. Something clearly had to give.
    • Working with the new FD we re-negotiated their lease and prioritised a move to premises more in keeping with their desired future culture and style. The money saved on projected rent bought them out of their lease after some financial re-structuring. This picture of the desired future culture extended to the development of a more inclusive new vision, mission and values and a commitment by the senior team to live by them and recruit in their image. We created talent pathways for the exceptional and the Operations Director took over as formal CEO with further share options based on performance. A share pot was also created for colleagues, including the FD and the business was re-structured to break up unhelpful dynamics.
    • Lastly the organisation re-branded and re-launched and within the five year window, after one further failed merger (old habits die hard), they have since become part of a global group with the founders realising the value of their asset., The COO has since moved on to managing several businesses and his protege now runs the agency.
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    Coaching and mentoring

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    Culture development

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    Leadership development