When Scaling Is The Goal Process, Procedures Are Critical

“If it’s not broke, don’t fix it” feels like a mindset out of the distant past. Not so, as it’s often one of the reasons why agencies experience inefficiencies with their processes and systems — two of the dirtiest words ever uttered in the creative space. But when scaling is the goal, processes and procedures are necessary evils.    

So are their improvements. Those inefficiencies could cost you as much as 30% of your revenue. They could also be wasting 26% of your team’s day. You must challenge conventions and find ways to improve upon what’s already being done. Otherwise, as a leader, you will find yourself pulled in many directions with little time for value-added activities essential to growth.   



This isn’t to say changes will be easy; far from it. About 70% of all change initiatives fail, after all. Everyone has their own ways of doing things. When bucking the system, you’ll no doubt experience pushback. But it’s essential to question day-to-day processes and whether how you “do business” is creating more problems than results, especially when you get to a certain size. There’s often no choice but to change processes and systems to continue scaling efficiently and effectively. Once you accept this fact, it’s just a matter of tying potential process improvements to business goals. Goals will serve as a means of direction and help get everyone on board.   

From there, attention can turn to KPIs, OKRs, or whatever your agency uses for measurement, and then follow standard procedures around that: divvy out metrics for team members to track, provide an explanation as to why the change is happening, relay the intended impact on business, and so on. If you have people rally around an initiative and agree on its importance, you can affect change. The first couple of months will, naturally, be bumpy. Questions will arise, uncertainties will surface, and a few people will try to return to the old ways. But it takes time to see results, and there’s a lot of discovery in the change process.   

However, adoption rates typically pick up between days 45 to 60. By that time, repetition begins to create a habit of sorts — that is, if there’s been consistency in training. Let’s say you’re moving to new software. A 45-minute training session is a good introduction but not enough to change behaviors. Even if there’s a resource library available, it’s not like people have time to study the material. You often need 10 to 20 hours of dedicated training on a tool, process, or system for it to become the new way of work.   

Where things could potentially fall apart is in setting expectations. A new tool, process, or system will never solve every problem. This all goes back to your goal: What are you trying to improve? What are you solving for? Don’t overcomplicate matters by trying to build a process or system that’s a cure-all. Look at what you’re trying to improve, understand its steps, break it down to its core functions, and then explore the improvement options available. Keep it simple.   

More importantly, avoid the trap many agencies fall into –– a revolving door of solutions. If you implement a change, commit. You should stress test the solutions, of course. But remember that there’s no better way to understand and adopt a new tool, process, or system than to train and constantly reflect on what it can do. Switching gears midway through simply leads to frustrations and puts you back to start, which is no way to drive progress. 

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