Agency leaders have been in the first stage of crisis management for nearly 18 months now. We’ve had to react to multiple crises — global and national — impacting the economy and our marketplaces at the same time.

But, although the pandemic and other challenges are far from over, it’s time to move from the reactive stage of leading in a crisis to the proactive stage. It’s time for leaders to start looking to what comes next.

After any major disruption there comes a period of flux, where everything is dynamically changing, and everything is changeable. These are times when visionary leaders can make big things happen. It is now that you, and your agency, can define what comes next and lead people to it.

Because of this, I think we’re about to enter a golden age for agencies. These highly dynamic times are when clients need us most. Client organisations are often hard to change, slow to react, and poor at seeing ahead. That is why they need their agencies. Agencies are the interface between a square boxy client organisation with it’s hard straight edges, and the wibbly wobbly zigzag of the real world. With everything up for change — ways of working, culture, technology, society and more — the world is going to be more zigzag than ever for years. Clients are going to turn to agencies for help with sensing and adapting to what’s next.

I recently presented a webinar for Wow, as part of their Business is Beautiful series, based on a board briefing we published at Agency Radar. In it, I outlined the five areas to think through as a leadership team to position your agency best for the coming recovery.

One of those is about defining your recovery narrative. At times of great change, great stories are the best way for leaders to point the way to what’s next. If your story is good enough, and enough people get behind it, it can actually create the new future rather than just predict it.

At the heart of your recovery narrative needs to be a big change that you see coming in your target market, or that you want to make happen. What is the single thing that will make everything different? I frequently find that agency leaders have this already sitting in the back of their minds: they know their market, they have good instincts about where it’s going.

What then matters is how you frame this, how you build the case for the change — and how your agency can help deliver it.

To see an approach to that, watch the webinar, or subscribers can read the board briefing in full at Agency Radar.

About Steve Parks

Steve leads the team at Convivio, a challenger consultancy. Their focus is to help knowledge-work organisations from governments to creative agencies to work more collaboratively and effectively in the digital age.

One of Convivio’s services is Agency Radar, the intelligence agency for agencies — briefing leaders with research and insights to help develop strategy.

Steve has run his own businesses for 20 years, going from a small startup to a 170-person group with offices in 9 countries — and then exiting with a small team to start up again. Based on his experiences and research, he’s written a series of books on entrepreneurship for Pearson. Prior to his business career, he was a BBC journalist.