Two Years Before the Mast

I’ve made it two years in to this crazy experiment called Plannerben | Anecdata and I thought I’d share a few of my observations from the seven clients with whom I’ve consulted.  No, I’m not naming names because these observations cover everybody.

You all have tech WTFs


It just needs a RAM upgrade and it’ll fly

WTF as in “what’s the fix?”

Every single engagement I’ve had has begun with the warning “you’re probably used to better technology.”  So happens, no.  No, I’m not.  Whether agency or client side, everyone’s got technology blues.  In fact, I’d argue that unless your company started up since Harry Styles left One Direction, you have legacy technology that doesn’t do what you want it to do.  Or it doesn’t interface with the new hotness your creative technologist said would fix everything.  Or its reporting leaves much to be desired.

Don’t feel bad about having less-than-stellar technology.  Everyone else does, too.  Everyone.

We’re all project managers now

The ubiquity of project management software such as Microsoft Project and its countless online competitors has democratized project management.  By that, I mean every function on the marketing team–creative, strategy, media, account management–is expected to know the schedule for everyone else.  Time was, a strategist such as myself never had to answer questions like “when do we review the first creative concepts?”  How would I know?  Ask the account team.  Now our co-workers expect us to have a good grasp of the bars on the Gantt chart that don’t correspond to our jobs.

Almost no one likes the open office concept, but we’re too afraid to complain

With great fanfare, agencies and marketing departments adopted the open office layout.  Companies doing so suggest that this layout increases cross-pollination and adds a sense of buzz to the workplace.  Despite the backlash, this trend appears to have picked up speed, at least based on my decidedly unscientific sample of offices.

In some cases, my client co-workers appreciated an upgrade to their space, since some offices look like they haven’t seen an upgrade since…well, since the dawn of the cubicle era. However, most of them don’t like the noise, the lack of personal space and the challenge of trying to focus in a communal environment.  Rather than complain, most of the staff accept the change as a fait accompli and carry on with what stoicism they can muster.

To their credit, most decision makers who have advocated the open office have put themselves on the floor with the rest of the team.  However, that solidarity offers little comfort when you have to listen to a co-worker argue with his spouse or ask her pediatrician about the color of her child’s mucus.

I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to thank my clients for letting me into their businesses and allowing me to help them to the best of my ability.  I’ve truly enjoyed getting to know them, to learn about their challenges and even to share in their gripe sessions.  And, shaky technology, Gantt charts and open offices be damned, these people and their challenges keep me on my toes and on the hunt for newer and better solutions.

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