The Agency Model

I’ve been working in-house for almost nine years now. There is a perception among management that being in-house means you’re not as creative as the people out in the agency world and therefore are not capable of doing the utterly amazing things agencies do.

There is not an ounce of truth in that last statement.

I’ve now run into this problem a second time. First at Schlumberger and now at Sysco. From management’s perspective, the key to unlocking this puzzle, is the much revered “agency model”. If only we worked more like an agency, then we would get work done faster, better and, being in-house, cheaper. The holy trifecta.

The thing I do not think people understand is that the agency model is not a process, rather it is about economics. It’s financial.

All agencies and most in-house organizations have their own variations on the process, but they are in essence all the same. There are a few different ways to skin a cat, but at the end of the day you’re stilling skinning a cat.

Agencies do indeed attract very talented and creative people. That is for sure. But these days, big corporations do, too. The main difference between the two is mindset between in-house and agency folks. Agencies will do damned near anything to make something happen. if they don’t, they’re out of business.

That’s quite the motivation to get things done.

Being in-house, you are a protected class. There are rules out the wahzoo protecting employees from the kind of lengths agencies are willing to go to. Perhaps the issue is that being in-houses, people are not incentivized enough. Not properly motivated (or improperly) to do amazing work. To push beyond.

There are other issues at play here, too.

But a lack of creativity is not one of them.