Sunday, November 24, 2013

The One Place Where Teamwork Doesn't Work

Last week, AMV BBDO promoted Paul Brazier to Chief Creative Officer.

"Creatives start fightback against the bean counters," screamed the headline in Campaign.

Now, obviously I'm delighted to see a creative (and by all accounts a highly talented one) taking a spot in the 'C-Suite', alongside the CEO and CFO.

But although ours is an industry built on teamwork, is it really appropriate at the top?

I'm always amazed that a start-up - typically an equal partnership between three individuals from the disciplines of creative, strategy, and account management - is able to function, when you consider the average size of these people's ego's.

I suppose what happens in reality is that the account man, the person whose actual skill is leadership, ends up running it.

Apparently Wieden & Kennedy take deliberate steps to prevent this happening. Mark Fitzloff, Global ECD of W&K, explained in a panel discussion that Dan Wieden insists every W&K office is run by two creative people and only one account person, because "If you have one creative person and one account person running a company, there will be a death-match, and the account person will kill the creative person. Because they will be better prepared for the fight... it will be in their schedule." 

It's an amusing story, but for me it still illustrates the central problem of having a team run things - there will be a fight.

And fighting is a waste of energy.

Call me old-fashioned, or a fascist, or both, but I believe in having one CEO on top.

Just to be clear, I'm not saying that person has to be a suit. There are numerous examples of successful CEO's coming from a planning or even a creative background.

I don't care what discipline the leader comes from.

But in the words of Highlander, surely 'there can be only one.'


Unknown said...

My agency also has more than one "C-...". On paper, they should be equal. However in reality, the CEO still calls the shot. Nobody contests it once the CEO has made it clear that it's his final decision.

Anonymous said...

'too many cooks'

neilc said...

Works pretty well with the three of us in W+K London - two creatives and one "suit' as per Dan's plan. We disagree on plenty of things but that generally results in a healthy balance.
If any one of us took complete control I think we'd veer off the road into the ditch before too long.
The threesome approach also worked pretty well for BBH.