The power of the collective.
July 8, 2021
We work in a self-organised way and are moving towards operating as a collective. The magazine PAGE wanted to know from our co-founder and former partner, Heike Schmidt, how this works and what it does for us. Excerpts from a conversation about collective togetherness, our feedback culture – and why this way of working gives us a whole new energy.
How did the process of moving towards self-organisation begin?
We went out to Brandenburg with the whole agency for a weekend to talk openly about our problems and ideas and to find out what the team thinks of self-organisation. A really interesting discussion about the way we work together came out of it. We sought consensus, and in the end we all decided to try self-organisation. (…)
When a new assignment comes in, it is posted online and anyone can apply to work on it, right?
Yes, exactly. In addition to the new meeting culture, we have introduced roles. When a pitch or project came in, we in our management position always used to decide who had the necessary expertise and would enjoy it. Today, we put a short project description in our Slack channel, list the roles to be assigned, and anyone can apply for them. (…)
Doesn’t that sometimes result in several people being interested in the same role?
Yes, and that is when it gets really exciting, because everyone gets together for a kick-off meeting where who fills which role is openly discussed and mutually decided. It can be the case that someone comes away empty-handed. (...) A feedback culture that fully relies on mutual appreciation is central to the process design and is also one of the most important tools in terms of interpersonal understanding. We all had to learn that and are getting better and better at it.
What does your new form of collaboration mean for the creative process?
Previously, our work was more of a relay race, in which the strategists handed over their ideas to the designers. Now, the different departments come together early on at the kick-off, including the trainees, interns and partners. Every voice is heard and every opinion counts.
As fear fades, do the ideas become bolder?
Certainly. (...) The best work is always created when people are on a level playing field, I am convinced of that.
You can read the whole interview in the print edition of PAGE 08.2021, or online.
Watch the video to get an overview of self-organisation by Heike Schmidt.