Thurs 26 Jan 2023 2:00pm UK time

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 its own billing and profitability – and it’s been great for growth.

“The numbers are remarkably consistent across the pods,” he says.

“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, while always supporting each other to help achieve our collective goals.”

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

“We planned for each pod to be a business unit of about £1m each. It all sounded really, really logical –  but planning and reality are often different things,” explains Simon, CEO of Mr B and Friends

This was the first time many of Simon’s team had the direct responsibility of delivering on profit and revenue on their shoulders, and after a year, it was clear the model wasn’t working.

“I think in a way we overstated the independence of the autonomy of the pods. Everybody looked so worried about leaving the standard agency model and became quickly isolated – this led to underperformance and disappointment. 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 all with your fellow members.