LBi / Hyper Island Masterclass / Learning by Heart
Exploring 'Blending' and the need for change in Sweden
Change: difficult, stressful and time-consuming. So how best to cope in an industry which, by necessity, must constantly evolve in order to remain relevant?
Over this weekend, an international team from LBi, their clients including Coca-Cola,Johnson & Johnson, Maersk and Virgin Atlantic, and some select journalists (including Contagious), headed to Hyper Island's Karlskrona base in the south of Sweden in an attempt to grapple with these sorts of questions.
The weekend was based in and facilitated by Hyper Island in the prestigious school's location in a former prison. Course leader and Hyper Island co-founder David Erixon took the group through what he describes as 'learning with the heart, not the head'. In reality, this took the form of a series of interactive group exercises, reflections and negotiations, alongside lectures which spanned high-level business theory to personal accounts of dealing with change, to encourage participants to feel the need to change rather than just understand it.
LBi instigated the masterclass to explore 'Blending' - the agency's way of defining its multidisciplinary way of working to promote integration and collaboration.
Gareth Jones, brand engagement director at LBi, London, explains: 'Blending is all about creating a corporate culture where collaboration and innovation can thrive. It's about ditching silos and bringing the right mix of people together so their collective intellect produces something amazing that creates value for our clients. Hyper Island's unique "learning by doing methodology" provided the perfect platform for us to explore blending and develop the concept so we can share it with the rest of the world. Over the weekend we've been shocked, challenged, but most importantly inspired. We're now thinking about what's next and how we implement some of the truly brilliant ideas generated by the blended group.'
The course set about disrupting its participants from the word go, looking at the Consumer Activity Cycle and analysing how a company can place its customers at the heart of the business, by considering their behaviour at all stages of engagement with the brand, as well as before and after.
David Campbell, global communications manager at Coca-Cola, told Contagious: 'It was brave and bold for LBi to invite clients and media partners into the process of defining the agency's philosophy. Many organisations present discovered we share the same challenges. And at Coca-Cola, much of the progressive thinking was familiar as well, so it was good to see first-hand that we share a vision.'
By examining 'The Dinosaurs' - companies that had previously been in strong positions and subsequently failed, the group drew up a list of behaviours which contribute to decline. These included arrogance, competing on price, expecting competitors to only come from within that industry, believing that they knew better than their consumer and that value is stored in the brand or product, as opposed to being built up thanks to the experience it creates. Erixon explained that adding value to consumers, rather than satisfying shareholders, should be the primary aim of any company: 'Instead of asking how is your business going to create wealth, ask how it is going to create value.'
By working with the Consumer Activity Cycle in the workshops, the group was able to analyse consumers and use the knowledge to generate business insights - where can waste be cut out of the process and where can value be added? This, along with identifying opportunities for a brand to start interacting with its consumers earlier and continue engaging them for as long as possible, can lead to a win-win situation for both the brand and its customers. Following this 'track two' mentality should help businesses to spot value gaps in their consumer cycle and build longer relationships with their customers.
The benefits of creating an integrated customer experience through the brand, product and communications mean that the advertising industry can shift away from generating demand to creating value. This chimes with Contagious' mantra of questioning whether a piece of work is useful, relevant or entertaining. This way of acting both with and for consumers is more likely to create a sustainable differentiation in the marketplace which is very difficult to copy. However, armed with the knowledge that somewhere between 70 and 80% of business transformations fail, Erixon also spoke of the need to change beliefs within a company, as opposed to simply structures, when instigating these transformations.
So, through workshops and interaction, as well as slots from guest lecturers, both the case for change and the tools to implement it were built. The weekend concluded not only with the first draft of LBi's 'Blending' manifesto, but also with the group empowered to take the first step in the process.
Ed Beard, planning director at LBI, London, explains: 'We ended up getting to the place where there are things - practical, tangible, achievable things - which can change.' David Brear, digital banking senior manager at Lloyds Banking Group, who also attended the workshop added: 'I think we've got one simplistic tool which we can now take back to our companies and apply with a good level of confidence that we will be making a difference. In a sense, it did feel very blended. Despite a lot of the things that we do wrong, there are actually a lot of things that we are quite advanced in the way that we're set up. We've still got a long way to go, but at least in this stage of the journey we are doing the right things.'
Photography / Calvin Lau / LBi London