So, 2020 is done and a whole new year stretches out before us.
No question it was a tough 12 months yet, as a leader, I feel I learnt more last year than I’ve done in the previous five. The way life was, particularly at work, has changed for good.
I feel I learnt more last year than I’ve done in the previous five.
At the MullenLowe Group, we’ve adapted together and with the speed of the cultural changes happening around us. The way we operate and how we partner with our clients has changed, the management skills required to lead our teams remotely have matured and the approach we took to support and develop our people has enhanced the way we do business.
As we rush into 2021, with the world still at such a critical moment, I believe there are five things we need now in business more than ever.
Above: Collaboration was key in 2020, despite the distance between people, and will continue to be so across 2021.
MullenLowe Group UK has had the enormous task of developing the biggest public health campaign since the war for the government’s Covid-19 response. Changing and updating day-by-day, often hour-by-hour. Meanwhile for global clients such as Unilever, we’ve rapidly re-launched products such as Lifebuoy in the UK, as the need to sanitise has become so critical. We have had to think fast, create at speed, produce at pace, be decisive, approve and supply. Always moving forward. Always agile.
Producing great work is tough at any time, to do it in lockdown is even harder.
Agility requires tenacity. We have to believe there’s always a solution to the next problem. Shooting commercials in lockdown, everyone working from home, sharing client business challenges, media plans changing, remote pitching etc. Never giving up on finding a way forward. It sharpens the mind. Producing great work is tough at any time, to do it in lockdown is even harder. But many succeeded. So, we must remember to be more tenacious and always remind ourselves we’re more capable than we know.
Tenacity is best delivered by teams, and teamwork needs collaboration. 2020 highlighted what we can achieve when we work together. Agencies and clients, account people and producers, strategists and creatives, media planners and buyers, although we were apart, we somehow became closer than ever before. Collaborating and respecting each other, letting everyone’s voice be heard. Our work has been better for it. We’ve all been better for it.
Above: Over the course of the pandemic MullenLowe London developed the biggest public health campaign since the war.:
We soon learnt it was the quality of communication, not the frequency that was important.
Collaboration is fuelled by communication. As we started working from home, I’m sure we all felt frequency of communication was key to holding everyone together, both internally and with clients and business partners, managing the unknowns of what might lie ahead. But we soon learnt it was the quality of communication, not the frequency that was important. With the pace at which we were moving, and the challenges we all faced, communication needed to be brief, honest, constructive and clear. We learnt the same communicating to the public. Keep it simple, informative and brief. “Stay Home, Protect The NHS, Save Lives”. Our message for the Government achieved prompted awareness of 92% in just two weeks. Some said it was too effective or too blunt. But simple and informative works.
Above: Motivation can sometimes be difficult when the balance between work and life is shifted. Showing care and respect for each other is crucial.
Last year we all became more human. We’ve seen into people’s homes, had a window into our colleagues’ lives, and been reminded that they are not only employees but people. Seeing the very hard yards everyone has put in - under such pressure - has been very humbling to me. I’ve seen people highly motivated one day and really struggling the next.
Humanity is defined by hope, which must be how we head into 2021; full of hope.
This isn’t just a reflection of life at MullenLowe Group UK, but life for all of us, everywhere. Showing my own vulnerabilities hasn’t been easy, but it’s something I’m now far more comfortable with, which is a good thing. Core to our human approach was the care, respect and mutual support that held us together and enabled us to achieve so much. If we better understand ourselves and our colleagues, we’re all better supported and engaged. And truly engaged teams produce the best work. Work that itself engages, is more human and more powerful. So, if 2020 has proven anything, it is that human connection wins the day.
And our humanity is defined by hope, which must be how we head into 2021; full of hope. Hope for the vaccine and defeating Covid-19. Hope for the wider business community, for society, for normality. If you think we had, or still have, a mountain to climb, then fill your hearts with hope and let’s see what we can all achieve.
As Sir Edmund Hilary said, “It’s not the mountain we conquer, but ourselves.”