Bringing the Intelligence Team to Life

In the sister post to this, The Ever Elusive Pursuit of Greatness, we discussed why we are creating the Intelligence team. In this post, we want to explore what that really means.

I know I’m biased, but I’m in awe of our Creative and UX teams’ ability to understand users and create experiences that change behavior and delight clients. Their ability to combine qualitative research, client knowledge, and their core design and user experience skills to create amazing digital experiences is something I, frankly, can’t relate to. I can barely draw a circle or even write my name legibly.

I’m also equally impressed with the other Nebo teams. Our copywriters are brilliant and have a gift to communicate that I’ll never be able to replicate. As for Paid Media — I’m not even allowed to sign in to AdWords anymore. SEO — mad scientists doing mad scientist stuff. Developers — well, enough said. I used to be a developer and now I don’t even know how to FTP into our dev server. PR and Social — let’s just say I don’t have the temperament to have a live feed of things I might say or tweet, much less understand their craft.

Despite being impressed by all of these disciplines, one thing struck out at me as we were working on various projects for all our clients.

Each of these departments (and probably many organizations) tends to work in a silo.

All of the amazing research and insights from the Creative and UX teams doesn’t always funnel through to the other teams. The Paid Media team has access to incredible research and data, but those tools and insights usually come after the creative process and deliverables have been executed (e.g. briefs, wireframes, design concepts, etc.). And this story repeats itself across teams and across clients.

It’s not purposeful. But it’s natural to have teams and departments focused on their missions. Wouldn’t that demographic, psychographic, behavioral, and search data Paid Media uses to build its campaign strategy be useful to the Creative and UX teams? Wouldn’t the Radian6 data that the Social team uses to create strategies and manage accounts be useful to our qualitative researchers?

The idea of the Intelligence team is to bring all of this data, research, and insight together. For all clients. For all projects. To make sure we’re creating an environment where the best ideas in the world can be created, grow, and thrive.

So, the first step is having a team whose mission is to ensure this happens and to share tools, ideas, research, and insights. They don’t necessarily own ideas or the creation of ideas. They design, develop, and guard the process. They’re the glue that connects all of the teams.

Secondly, we need to turn these processes and learnings into actual deliverables that make client projects better.

Better briefs. Better input before we dive into campaign recs, design, or search strategies. We need to have user personas that go beyond the short narrative of who, what, why, goals, and challenges. We have to marry the theoretical to the real. We have to make sure that, when we’re designing a tertiary product page, we understand that a new user who navigates to that page from the homepage has certain hopes, dreams, motivations, fears, and goals. Say another user who’s maybe in the same persona mold but halfway through their buyer journey lands on that same page (not through navigation), but through a branded search — they have a different mindset.

The idea of the Intelligence Team is to refine our processes, make our deliverables more informative across teams, share information, and co-create amazing ideas and campaigns.

It seems simple. It seems so obvious. But it’s really hard. We have really smart people trying to do really smart things. On time. On budget. They’re on a mission.

Which is amazing, other than the fact that sometimes that means busy people don’t collaborate with other departments.

This won’t be a perfect rollout. We expect a lot of things to work, and others to fail. But we’ll learn from those failures. We’ll get better. We’ll do smarter work. We’ll do better work.

And maybe, just maybe — we’ll create an environment that is truly special.

Written by Brian Easter on July 27, 2015


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Keith - thanks for reading and commenting. Completely agree. Although, despite our best efforts and planning, my guess is that there will always be silos, but hopefully we'll limit them and their impact.

Keith R says:

Intriguing concept. I like the idea of encouraging teams to use their individual strengths to solidify the agencies vision and concepts. It also could potentially cut across the communication problems that can exist between the various silos, and the occasional implementation issues when one team comes to another and says "We want to do this" and gets a "Uh there's no way we can do that!" reply.

Best of luck.

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