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#AH - Is The ‘Pods’ Structure Right for Your Agency?
Most agencies are run in a similar way. But have you ever thought of replacing your traditional ops or client services teams with pods?

For some, like Julian West at J2, the more autonomous ‘sports team’ approach really works.

“The pandemic allowed us to work in silos,” he explains. “We could be focused, and therefore the communication lines were smaller and less fragmented with fewer people involved.”

This naturally evolved into six pods of varying sizes, each responsible for their own billing and profitability – and it’s been great for growth.

“The numbers are remarkably consistent across the pods,” they say. “We’re very transparent with each pod’s numbers, and we do that for the other pods to see. What happens is they treat themselves almost as an agency within an agency, and there’s a friendly competition.”

But for others, the pods structure hasn’t worked at all – sometimes because the agency just isn’t ready for it.

This was the case for Simon Barbato, CEO at Mr B and Friends.

“We planned for each pod to be a business unit of about £1m each. It all sounded really, really logical - and that’s when it all went wrong,” he explains.

This was the first time many of his team had the direct responsibility of delivering on profit and revenue on their shoulders, and after a year, it was clear the team didn’t have the capabilities to keep this going.

“I think in a way we overstated the independence of the autonomy of the pods, because everybody looked so scared to start with about leaving the standard agency model. To be honest, I was naïve and thought, ‘I remember running a small business of seven to nine people and it was easy’.”

“I knew exactly what I was doing, so why wouldn’t anybody else know?”

Are you thinking of implementing the pods structure in your agency? Have you already tried it – and has it worked? Or have you found an alternative to pods that you think everyone else needs to know about?

Come along and discuss it with us!

Jan 26, 2023 02:00 PM in London

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