T shaped people & forming Voltron

This is a couple of years old now but it seems relavant to the topic of the remastered account handler. The point that we make again & again around not just being digital but wearing, thinking, breathing, sleeping & eating digital is a hygiene factor for us.

With the explosion of content marketing maybe a better expression is ‘integrated’. Being integrated means that digital is much more than a state of mind & that new behaviours & new skills are required. Being integrated doesn’t simply mean ‘integrated marketing’ – it means an integrated mindset for the team to work colloboratively, iteratively & in a non linear way. Why is this important? Because ideas aren’t linear & nor is the process of generating ongoing content for a connective experience.

What we produce  has evolved. And so how we produce it needs to evolve too. The above presentation has a great slide in that talks about the ‘Then’ state or how we used to work i.e strategy, creative, production, media. The process is step by step, its pre-configured, its clear for clients & they’ve been used to paying hourly rates for resource etc.

This is still – unfortunately – the incumbant operating system in the majority of – and particularly big – network agencies. It’s a dinosaur model that doesn’t work for quality ideation. The ‘Now’ model where outside collaborators, technology, influences, opinion, media, production, creative, research, strategy are fed in as ‘inputs’ through a cyclical, iterative , non linear process tends to lend itself to the best work. But this approach is tricky for account handlers to get their heads around & even harder for clients who need to understand what they are paying for. It’s like a magpie building a nest, a scrapbook, pinboard, freewheeling, free associative kind of thing that gets the best stuff done today. Why? Beacause inputs come in all directions & influence the workgroup in all shapes and sizes. The creative process is a miasma. A soup. But all soups need ingredients, somewhere to be prepared, someone to chop, simmer, strain, decorate & serve. Who does what in the process is mattering less & less as roles overlap – but what matters more is that the soup is freaking awesome.

If we charge for the value of the process & the value of the approach then surely we need to be clear about how to get from A-B in that process. Right?


The hardest part here is persuading your client that a basejump in the dark is exciting, exhilirating & that the great unknown is where the best ideas are found. Then we can look at a connective experience for that idea & how to deliver it. If ‘Then’ is about the Linear. The ‘Now’ is kind of about Voltron. Voltron for those don’t know is a Japanese anime character whose real power comes from the combined force of cool robot lions. It’s about collaboration & how the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.

Forming Voltron requires that people are fluent in many ‘languages’ but literate in many, many more.   The modern account handler needs to be T shaped. Colloborative across the top & awesome in project management/client relationships.

The colloboration needs to be fuelled by a natural enthusiam, curiosity & empathy for other disciplines. The area of awesomeness is your core skill as a contribution to the creative process.

For the remastered account handler this could be as simple as writing a great timing plan to explain to clients the importance of a good process. Or it could be the organization of a briefing somewhere interesting & relevant for the planner to inspire the creative teams. Or it could be negotiating with the legal teams at the advertising clearance centre on script approval, managing a difficult cost situation or explaining why this photographer or that director will make a difference to the work. It could be as simple as persuading them to come with the agency for the journey to awesome.

How do you know when you are looking a T shaped person? A T shaped person says We not Me. A T shaped person is Open not Closed. They believe they can keep learning not teaching & most important they are networked not linear. This sense of networking comes back to the idea of account handling entrepreneurship that I talked about here. 

T shaped people are not enough on their own. They need the right operating system. And other T shaped people. If this isn’t ready then all the best T shaped people in the world will fail. They are no better than I shaped.

If the agency is constantly embracing change, building the right values, the right culture, the right processes & the right resources it has a chance of success in today’s landscape. It also helps if it’s vision & financial reporting systems are aligned too.

Being T shaped, with a good colloborative process for idea making is one thing. But the remastered account handler needs to take its core expertise in project management & figure out what resources are needed when to do the best thing for the relationship.

When you’re getting the workgroup together – try sharing with them the idea that Voltron is forming up. It doesn’t matter to the remastered account handler if you are the leg, hand or head. Just as long as it forms.

Everyone is a cool robot lion after all.


3 responses to “T shaped people & forming Voltron

  1. Pingback: Adventures at Hyper Island | remasteredaccountman

  2. Pingback: Confessions of a remastered account man | remasteredaccountman

  3. Pingback: Account handling as a cross functional collaborator | remasteredaccountman

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