Wie sieht die Agentur der Zukunft aus? Wie kann man agileres Arbeiten organisieren? Wie kann man den Wissensaustausch mit freien Partnern, die Motivation der Mitarbeiter, die Kreativität und Produktentwicklung verbessern? Wie sieht die Trennung von Idee und Umsetzung aus und wie misst man Leistungen gerechter?
Dies sind nur ein paar Fragen mit denen sich der Trendforscher Jörg Jelden in seiner Studie „Agencies of the future“ bis Herbst 2012 beschäftigt. Gemeinsam mit dem who is who der Agenturszene, untersucht er die verschiedenen Fragestellungen. Teil der Studie war auch ein Crowdsourcing Wettbewerb auf der Plattform jovoto.com. Von 12. Juni bis 17. Juli lief der Wettbewerb und ich habe mit der Idee „the fluid network“ teilgenommen und einen Jury Preis über 400€ gewonnen. Insgesamt wurden 34 Ideen von verschiedensten Teilnehmern aus ganz Europa eingereicht, zum Teil liebevoll gestaltet wie die Idee „Collective Chicken Farm“ von DENKDifferent, bei der es um eine Art Talentpool für Kreative geht.
Aber es waren auch komplex gestaltete Projektideen dabei, wie die Idee „We Systems“ von Kreativer, der auf über 30 Folien en Detail Projektabläufe erklärt. Aber vor allem die Diskussionen, Fragen und der alles in allem hochkonstruktive Ton auf jovot.com hat die Sache interessant gemacht. So konnte ich mit der Idee fluider Netzwerke, mit der ich ffluid vor einem Dreivierteljahr gegründet habe, eine lebhafte Diskussion lostreten.
Über 30 Kommentare und Communityranking von 8,27 Punkten beschwerten mir neben dem Jurysieg den vierten Platz unter den über dreißig Ideen! Ich sage herzlichen Dank an alle die mitgevoted und diskutiert haben, ich bin um einige Erfahrungen reicher. Außerdem hat mich der Sieg des Wettbewerbs dazu angespornt die Idee weiterzuverfolgen ein Buch zu schreiben. Ihr dürft also gespannt sein, Inhaltsverzeichnis und die ersten zehn Seiten stehen bereits! Hier nun die ausführliche Beschreibung meiner Idee und ausgewählte Kommentare inklusive meiner Antworten:
The idea for a fluid network is not new, but it has not been established successfully until today in the dimensions exposed here. The idea of solely working with freelance experts for single projects is in the air for years, there are a lot of agencies who claim to work fluidly, but when it comes to core principles of a fluid network they fail.
A fluid network, lead by expert project managers and a recruiting team consists of freelance experts only. No creative employees of an agency, no hierarchy. A fluid team does not depend on any other commitment as to succesfully finish a project. After this is done, everybody works on own projects again but takes out the reference of the fluid project for his or her vitae.
The idea of a fluid network is about working shoulder to shoulder without the necessity of deadlocked structures as you would often find in corporate employment. This happens of course in the places where freelance creatives and coders are meeting – in CoWorking Spaces like the betahaus Berlin, Cologne and Hamburg, Edelstall Hannover, Lynfabbriken Aarhus or Schraubenfabrik in Vienna and many more.
fluid networks are defining the way we will work in the future – free, fluid and collaborative!
Why working fluid?
The synergies of bringing loose ends together are powerful. If you‘re working together in Coworking Spaces you don‘t need to collaborate, you may. This builds strong and authentic relationships and you get to know each other, what kind of working habits you have, how you react to stress and what keeps you going. The problem with Freelance work can be, that you often have to sell your creativity at less than fair value when aquiring new clients between working on projects was too hard again. Working for agencies is like being addicted to kokain – fast ease, rising dependancy. The result is the feeling of being trapped in too many less paid projects. Getting the bigun projects is a real struggle since the legal stuff scares away nearly every freelancer.
But clients need the independent view of a freelancer who is able to move freely as a generalist between different projects and different clients or of a highly specialized expert. It‘s not only sometimes for the initial creative brainstorm, a fluid project team is very strong in the execution, too. When you‘re working habit is focused on results and is not bond to working shifts and regulations of a supervisor, you can reach different levels of efficiency. The lean startup movement, the business model generation and the heart of agile development is 100% result driven. This is where a fluid network comes in.
How to work fluid
It begins with the Acquisition of projects, the recruiting of the fluid team and organization of the whole project with the client from project management to the approval. Of course there is a coreteam in the fluid network who does that, makes the contracts, pays the bills of the team members and fosters the good relations of the fluid network and to the clients.
The thing about the fluid network I describe here is, that the head of the network is a high skilled sales and recruiting team who provides just the stability you need, it‘s the membran who keeps the fluid network together. The coreteam translates the skills of the different members into highly demanded services for the clients. Here‘s an overview of the skills of the coreteam:
- Acquisition of projects
- Recruitment of the fluid teams
- Customer Relationship Management
- Community Engagement
- Time Tracking, Billing and Dept Collection
To operate sales in a fluidnetwork it is important to build a specific value proposition of what exactly you can deliver to your clients. This is a tricky point because the answer will limit your skills to some point and you cannot anwser the question „what can you do for us?“ with „everything you need!“ even when it may be true. I came to believe that it‘s better to specialize and enter through a narrow door and then later widen it up to supply more and more of your clients needs. Who says that if you‘re working on a mobile app you can‘t design the distribution concepts and PR strategy for the app, too? If you‘re working in a fluid network you have the ressources to do that.
When it comes to the point of contracts and paying the bills most of the freelance teams are being scared away. Especially the risks of being taken to the court seems to lead directly to the founding of a limited, but then you have Managing Directors and Employees and soon you‘re not fluid anymore. The answer to the question is a head of the fluidnetwork which is a limited, not so much for the responsibility in legal questions but for the security need of the clients and of course there will be working resident freelancers and employees.
On of the critical points in terms of business model validation is that the fluid network needs excellent project managers to be able to work on more than one project. This is how scaling is possible. Of course the project managers are part of the fluid teams and freelancer themselves, they can‘t be part of the coreteam.
Since the question of the revenue streams is a constant pain in the ass, I‘m happy to answer it plain and simple. The fluid team calculates a certain daily fee or fixed price and the coreteam will add an margin from 20%-30%, this is it.
Questions and Answers on the Idea:
„Jörn, just checked your web site, you’re actually trying to make this happen, that is very cool! :-) You’re putting your money where your mouth is. That demands my respect. :-) A question relating to accountability; who takes end responsibility for a project? If it is a specific account or project manager, wouldn’t that manager want to have full control over who works on the project and who doesn’t and who does what?“ by Ayal Pinkus
– „Well, the project manager is the head of the fluid team and yes to certain conditions he will be able to talk about the staffing of the team. But since I know about recruiting I can say it’s a very special thing and wanting to get team members removed can also be a sign of doing the same with the project manager. Since the coreteam is in charge of the contracts and takes all the legal risks, the recruiting will be in the hands of the coreteam.“
„Hey jormason, very elaborated description! That sounds very promising, indeed! I only have one question concerning the pool of people? How do you get them into the fluidnetwork? Further I’m wondering how do you make sure, that those people in your network are highly qualified and fitting for the different tasks?“ by Britta
– „Hi Britta, thank you and thank you for this question. It’s the most important point of this agency’s model. The answer is, it’s not a pool of anonymus CVs – it’s about people already knowing each other through various projects. The core principle of building this network of specialists is Coworking. In the uprising new workspaces where Freelancer are sharing Desks, Wifi and a Latte in breaktimes you get to know your fellow Coworker. Or you even choose to share a desk with some of your partner you already made business with. So the network can only grow organically, I will install Coreteam employees in the different cities to make sure they connect in coworking spaces in Cologne, Berlin, Munich and so on. I can make sure that they are highly skilled because if you’re working shoulder to shoulder you get to know each other better than by meetings and already defined roles in companies. It’s these lose ends that are important, you don’t have to work together but you can. This energy of volunteer coworkership leads to the knowledge of the intrinsic motivations of a person. You hardly get there by any form of interviews! Of course I do some extra matching, I even do work with typologies like the DISG-Model and the Eneagramm which I rate above the MBTI because it’s so simple and strong in the expression of someones motivations and character. Later there will be proven teams, ratings between the different coworker and a database the Coreteam will use of course. But to be clear in one point there will be no „body leasing“ and selling of the contacts of the fluid network at any time!“
„Hey Jormason, great idea if yours, continue building the network. My first question is taking the same path Britta introduced (Thank you Britta). What if the project were huge in revenue and workload? We’re talking scalability here. Britta asked how the teams are recruited. How many of those „freeelancers that are known and recommended personally“ are fluid-network-associates. Summed up: How big a project can the fluid network handle?“ by Kochseb
– „Hey Kochseb, thx for your feedback! Well, this depends on how big the client wants to think and how much they will pay. Of course there are more established working structures when it comes to huge media budgets like Television and Radio, so these are projects a fluidnetwork would possibly always loose against a big agency. But if the network has been build for let’s say a couple of decades, it would be absolutely no problem to work international and in complex „follow-the-sun“-Projects. I’m not thinking only in advertising projects but in web development, IT and innovation management. I think we’re not talking about a replacement of the agency model but of a transformation., including the client-vendor relationship.“
Die Umfrage zur Studie von Jörg Jelden findet übrigens gerade auf der innovativen Business Intelligence Plattform crowdworx statt. Ihr habt über diesen Link die Möglichkeit, vorab Treiber, Insights und Impacts aus dem bisherigen Projekt zu lesen und zu bewerten. Wer übrigens am Besten prognostiziert, erhält ein Ticket für die NEXT Service Design Conference im Oktober in Berlin, also mitmachen!