We tap our internal resources, as well as outside speakers and educational institutions, to constantly improve our knowledge base. Here are some of our educational mechanisms:
Monday Morning Meetings (MMM)
An important feedback and educational tool for us is our Monday Morning Meeting (MMM) at 9 A.M. We ask associates to plan their schedules to be in attendance. The meeting lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. We think it's a great way to start the week is to spend time with each other in a group setting. We are reminded that there are others we can rely on, others who care for us and who want to see us succeed.
A typical MMM will include client news, overall agency updates and discipline cross-training "Minutes," when associates share information on their disciplines with others who are less familiar with their area of expertise. This way, for example, PR people can better understand the challenges facing media planners, art directors can learn more about how databases accurately "profile" target audiences, and copywriters can learn about new Internet tools and techniques. Over a year, each discipline has the chance to share about 45 "Minutes" with our colleagues. This raises the entire agency's knowledge and expertise.
We may not learn other disciplines to the level of the specialists in those areas. But this helps us understand their processes. (It's harder to lead, manage or coordinate with processes you don't understand!)
Someone outside our agency, upon hearing about our Minutes, remarked, "Isn't it just like people in your industry to boil things down to a minute?" Exactly!
At each MMM, the "Way to Go" award for the week is given to a deserving associate in front of the entire agency. A brief explanation of why the person is receiving the award is given. The person is selected by the previous week's "Way to Go" winner, and the award book is kept at the new recipient's workstation for that week. The giver of the award adds a page to the award book as a tribute to the person receiving the award. The recipient also enjoys use of the agency's only assigned (and prime) parking space for that week.
Monday Lunch Seminars.
The Monday Morning Meetings provide a solid start for the week. Then, at noon, further training occurs at the agency when we hold 45-minute seminars. As with The BrainBangers' Ball, the Monday Seminars are conducted after a catered lunch.
These seminars are balanced in number throughout the year in three categories:
Cross training: Our associates prepare seminar presentations or we bring in outside experts who advance our understanding of each of our disciplines, plus subjects like business law and new technological developments.
Life training: Outside experts and associates volunteer to cover issues such as personal health, time management, better communications, conflict resolution and safety issues.
Deep training: These are "breakout sessions" where the individual disciplines get together for more in-depth sessions. For example, the art directors get together to teach each other how to better use a particular software package or PR specialists trade best practices on how to get journalists' attention.
Outside education: We want to be careful not to become insular in our thinking. So, we encourage (and pay for) our associates to continue their education through college programs, trade association seminars, workshops and membership in appropriate organizations.
If someone is willing to spend their evenings or weekends in class, we're happy to pay for it.
The race goes to the swiftest. To be the swiftest, you've got to be the smartest.