The client-service industries are infamous for ideas that exist outside of the realm of possible. For consulting, idea-generation, advertising, and advisory-type companies, there is often a struggle to really identify with a client’s needs, goals, and situation.
There is a tendency to propose ideas without consideration for the “execution experience.” Questions like “will the team go crazy trying to do this?” “do they have the energy to pull this off?” and “can they even afford this?” are often secondary and left unconsidered. Some of the most productive service-based organizations we have interviewed insist that the only way to really understand a client's reality is to make something yourself.
ethod, a brand experience agency, is a perfect example of a company that has grounded its client-facing approach with multiple internal projects. Their own website, method.com, was described as a “challenging and very personal branding exercise” by CEO Robbie Vann-Adibé. “We were committed to applying the design fundamentals, strategy, and technical expertise we use for our clients in order to fully support our own brand.” They benefited from taking a taste of their own medicine.
Another great example is New York agency Brooklyn Brothers - the advertising agency that also produces Fat Pig Chocolate, PMS vitamins, and a series of children’s books (see previous interview). The team at Brooklyn Brothers believes that making a product lends invaluable insights into logistics and the real amount of time and effort it takes to execute. Not only do their own products boost profitability (and fun), they are also a competitive advantage when serving clients.
And perhaps, in a world of digital and virtual products, there is a benefit to creating something tangible that can be held and felt - something entirely physical. At Behance, we have been surprised by how much we have learned from creating our Action Method product line. The product serves as an embodiment of what we try to do with technology and knowledge. And the product line has taught us all a lot about logistics and operations.
We believe that every team should venture to create something for themselves. If only as a refreshing team development exercise, teams should experience what goes into the pursuit of making ideas happen. As we all know, conception is the easy part. You will gain newfound empathy for your clients and perhaps a profitable product that you never expected.
More about Scott Belsky
Scott Belsky is the Chief Product Officer at Adobe and is the co-founder of 99U and Behance. He has been called one of the "100 Most Creative People in Business" by Fast Company, and is the author of The Messy Middle and the bestselling book, Making Ideas Happen.
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