June 13

Making Your Agency Less Dependent on Senior Management


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Making Your Agency Less Dependent on Senior Management

Managing Director of Deeson, Simon Wakeman, discusses how a transparent culture of talking and feedback encourages success

Five and a half years ago, Simon transformed Deeson, scrapping “paternalistic culture” and individual leadership figures, in favour of a “high performance culture” where everyone is held accountable and able to make their own decisions. At Agency Hackers, Simon explained how their scorecard pay system works, and how they give their staff flexibility.

Simon explained how on his first day at the agency, he was stunned that at “9am on the dot, everyone walked in, at 1pm everyone left for lunch, and at exactly 5pm people began to leave”. He suggested that although “nothing was broken as such, and it worked, it just didn’t feel right”.

Simon set out the situation he was dealing with:

  • Just under 30 employees to transition into a new way of working
  • Lots of “research different models and techniques” he wanted to implement.
  • An end goal of his teams working under “philosophy of responsibility and a culture of talking”.

Once he had decided the best route to take, he knew he would have to spend time coaching and leading by example to get people talking as openly as the system required. Simon mentioned that five years on, “he still spends 50% of his time coaching, and the other 50% tweaking the system”.

Simon explained why Deeson’s “scorecard” system is integral to their culture of working.

Not only used as a way to measure “impact performance” and enable feedback, the “scorecard” system is used to alter employees pay. Simon discussed how employees first rate themselves on how they feel they have contributed to the business, and then the management team also complete this assessment of each employee.

Simon emphasised that meetings to review these “scorecards” consist of “a lot of talking openly” about failures and steps that can be taken to improve.

Simon suggested that he had left Deeson, as a ‘self-organising company’, for a 5-week sabbatical over the summer, and had “returned to an organisation that was effectively and successfully running itself”.

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