Jeff Bezos, Amazons CEO, has a golden rule: ‘Every team should be small enough that it can be fed with two pizzas.’ Whilst I would argue that a better rule is that every team member should have two pizzas. He has a point. Small teams work.
At Embrace, we are well versed in this area, snap-back five years and we were much bigger in size. Now careful refinement and we are at a great size, working with clients where we truly believe we are adding real value and ultimately not being ruled by bureaucracy.
The best skill of a small agency: flexibility. We aren’t bogged down in internal systems and processes. We can quickly and efficiently turn around work. It also means that when we put together a team for a project, it will usually touch everyone at some point. Even the smallest of projects will have involvement from the big dogs. The hands-on approach is fundamental to the success of our agency, and ultimately fundamental to the success of our clients.
Another important note, which recently came into focus, is the added value of clients being able to meet the full team. You don’t need to play Chinese whispers with a junior exec who reports back to the client facing team, who then report back to the relevant team. You can sit face to face with us and have brutal honest conversations. We all usually present the work too, as who’s better to present to you than the brainchild behind it. Or if its a digital project, you’re likely to e-meet Dave, skyped in from South Africa, with an insatiable knowledge of the digital world.
We are only as good as our last piece of work. At Embrace we don’t have lengthy contracts with clients, we can’t afford to be complacent. We have to be agile, smart and only deliver work we are proud of. Which in return, has meant that we do have lengthy relationships with happy clients, who know we are as invested in their success as them.
It means that everyone gives 100%. Larger teams tend to suffer from the Ringelmann Effect. This concept, aptly named after French professor Maximilian Ringlemann, explored the tendency for individuals to become less productive as the size of the group increases. In one of his experiments he asked volunteers to pull on a rope. He found that when only one person is pulling on the rope they give 100% of their effort, however, as more people are added the individual effort goes down. This certainly rings true as we can all be guilty of this at times, but in a small team that isn’t an option.
Just because we are a smaller team doesn’t mean that we only work with small clients. Our clients are often global, with 1000 employees for every 1 of us. The key is scalability. Our core team is supported by a network of excellent specialists, meaning that we can source skills to uniquely compliment projects.
On a personal perspective, it also means that your job role becomes broader and you get exposed to a broad array of tactics, responsibilities and ultimately new skills. You have to be a fully immersed team player, focused on client goals rather than your specific job role.
If you would have told me last year that I would understand the mechanics of infected wound treatment or be able to confidently talk with fund managers about asset allocation and portfolio construction; I probably wouldn’t have believed you. However here I am. As a Senior Account Manager, in an agency which prides itself in client-alignment, I have to understand our clients world, even if that means needing a stronger stomach than mentioned in the job role.
Having said all of the above, we are always on the look out for new team members. People just like us who are passionate, flexible and don’t mind getting stuck in.
If you think we might be the right tight team to tackle your next project, or you just want to discuss how difficult it would be to share two pizzas between anymore than 2 people, send me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org