Anyone who’s spent a billable hour or two inside an agency has heard, if not said, this very thing. The truth of the Iron Triangle (as it’s widely known, yet hard to attribute) is that cheap often shows, fast can quickly become the slower route and good is likely not good enough.
At the end of the day—whether you track time or not (we don’t!)—there is really only one choice to make that will get you to where you need to be, and it’s not on that list. It’s quality.
Quality doesn’t necessarily have a particular pace. Quality does, however, set a brand and its partners up for long-term success. We believe quality requires the persistent presence of these three things in particular:
While this might seem like a bit of a no-brainer, many smart minds have dedicated decades to unpacking what drives curiosity and what impact it makes on the quality of our work and, ultimately, our lives. Thankfully, The Harvard Business Review (HBR) did us all a solid and offered a succinct summation in their article “The Five Dimensions of Curiosity.” As the article illuminates, curiosity is multi-faceted and requires a shift from asking “How curious are you?” to “How are you curious?” Of the five dimensions, a study of 3,000 folks across China, Germany and the U.S. found two to be particularly important for realizing success in the workplace: Social Curiosity (wanting to “learn what other people are thinking and doing”) and Stress Tolerance (an ability to manage the anxiety of diving into the unknown).
We regularly witness and experience how all five dimensions have a profound impact creating fresh, quality work. Curious about the other three (had to ask!)? Check out the full article here.
Being accountable works best when it isn’t tethered to a hierarchical construct. Consistent quality requires a shared commitment to bringing your best, whatever your title, to solving the problem in front of you and your team. In an agency environment, it’s key to include clients when taking the accountability roll call. Just as the agency’s strategists, creatives, media, production and account folks and others who make our world turn ‘round are expected to bring fresh thinking, a client plays an equally critical role in providing quality input and feedback (read: consolidated, focused and actionable) along the way.
And a quick reminder: While perfection is always the goal, imperfect people will always be the ones pursuing it. So when holding each other accountable, it’s key to extend grace in all directions (including your own) and learn from those mistakes.
"Trust must be earned.” Or does it? We’ve seen how well it works when trust is given in good faith and positioned as something that’s yours to uphold. This approach immediately puts all on equal footing and establishes the expectation that all involved will consistently bring items No. 1 and No. 2 on this list to work with them every day. If anyone doesn’t, it will show up in the work.
The takeaway? The secret to creating quality work is setting a high standard and giving the time and attention required to achieve the high standard. The deeper secret is working with quality people. It not only makes the work better, but the process to get there is wildly more enjoyable. I guess you could call it quality time.