NYC Does Google #Firestarters

Google #Firestarters NYC
[iPhone pic]

Just this past week, I had the good fortune of connecting with Neil Perkin via Skype after interacting via blogs and Twitter for years. Then learned he was actually going to be in NYC to kick off the first Google #Firestarters event.

If you were following my Twitter feed last night, you probably saw the live interpreting. Tweeting events works a lot like translating from Italian — lots of words — into English — much more direct, takes less space. Well, you have to figure out how to boil down heady concepts like The New Operating System For Agencies.

Sarah Watson – CSO, BBH

Ian Fitzpatrick – CSO, Almighty

Noah Brier – Founder, Percolate

Spencer Baim – CSO, Vice Media

Johnny Vulkan – Founder, Anomaly

Were up to the task and engaged a packed audience of planners and strategists in a lively discussion about their interpretation of what the new OS entails — both individually and as a group for the Q&A.

Google #Firestarters

This is a visualization of some of the themes that emerged (via).

A Few Themes Emerged

Starting with strategy is execution and the new OS is defined by what we take away, the conversation became more specific around the relationship about agencies and brands, agency processes, how agencies think about work, and what that work looks like today.

Why planners? They are 1.) the very best people to see simplicity, 2.) have a special relationship with creative directors, 3.) they are pioneers, and 4.) tend to be very nice people.

Some questions to Ask[via]

Choice sound bites:

  • @IanFitzpatrick: New agency OS defined by the parts of the agency source code we strip away, not what we layer on top
  • @heyitsnoah: Brands don't fit nicely on a piece of paper any more; 1) plan for complexity, 2) strategy as algorithm, not blueprint, 3) marketers must become systems thinkers
  • @sarahmwatson: The agency OS can be both the unseen engine of greatness and the silent killer of change
  •  @johnnyvulkan: If your org structure looks like a pyramid you are screwed; organize around a business problem, not a channel and argue about the right solution
  • @spencerbaim: Our strategy is to hire the best, smartest kids straight out of school. They seem to know more than us; there is a massive discrepancy between th way brands should behave and the way they still do

My favorite: brand strategy is about understanding humans. That it is. Someone also said: The agency OS sits between values and processes.

It was an energizing conversation and I am sure I will be teasing ut some threads in future posts.

I did want to make a note on a few other things strong strategists do well. In addition to systems thinking, they habitually engage in scanning and pattern recognition from a broad range of sources, challenge their own assumptions, balance their future with present orientation, engage in synthesis and storytelling (this was mentioned tonight), and test hypotheses.


Valeria is an experienced listener. She designs service and product experiences to help businesses rediscover the value of promises and its effect on relationships and culture. She is also frequent speaker at conferences and companies on a variety of topics. Book her to speak here.

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