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Covid: One year on 7 Apr 2021 - 3 min read

AKQA Media CEO: As an introvert, I welcomed 2020 – we need to do less, but better

By Lesley Edwards, CEO - AKQA Media

We chased shiny things, jumped at shadows and made frenzied, reactionary decisions, Lesley Edwards says. Writing this piece in Brisbane during the latest lockdown, she says the time to review and move towards more consistent, measured decision making is something industry badly needs.

The stuff that kept me awake at night in March 2020 has entirely shifted from the stuff that keeps me awake in March 2021.

Lesley Edwards, CEO, AKQA Media

A well-worn expression from an old friend comes to mind when I reflect on 2020 and specifically the biggest challenges and greatest learnings; consistency is highly under-rated”. Now, to be transparent, when my friend talks about this shes typically referring to an episode of popping in for one on the way home and ending up sauced some hours later – nevertheless the quote has relevance here also.

Chase shiny things, jump at shadows

As an industry, and based on my observations, our strengths are often characterised as adaptive, dynamic and progressive. If I subscribe to this perspective, then I think its fair to say that we might be cursed by our strengths at times playing out to become weaknesses. Ive observed all too often, both from agency and client side, that this can manifest in chasing shiny things and jumping at shadows, consistently.

Combining this with the alluring, perhaps addictive nature of more; more channels, more targeting, more measurement, more budget, more competition, can tend to result in a frenzied pace of reactionary decision making, pivoting directions, aborting strategic principals and, well, not a lot of consistency.

It’s fair to say we might be cursed by our strengths at times playing out to become weaknesses. I’ve observed all too often, both from agency and client side, that this can manifest in chasing shiny things and jumping at shadows, consistently.

Lesley Edwards, CEO, AKQA Media

Juxtaposition of chaos and calm

In the absolute crazy, unpredictable and dare I say unprecedented year of 2020, an irony played out.  Uncertainty, risk and no relevant playbook for many of our clients and indeed our agency and our people could have easily led to chaos, perhaps on a couple of occasion it did and thats ok, because this craziness was juxtaposed by a slowing down, a calmness, a time to stop, think and become grounded.

Perhaps this is my own personality bias coming to the fore, but as an introvert I welcomed the opportunity to become more considered, review business models and practices, think deeply and differently about our clients business problems and needs and to enter 2021 with a renewed enthusiasm for doing less, but doing it differently, better and more consistently.

Tech is not the answer

In 2021 doing things differently means thinking differently about the application of technology and creativity.  Technology is not the answer, its the enabler – specifically an enabler of committing to a laser focus on knowing what the next best action needs to be and consistently executing against this. 

Last year was a game changer on so many fronts, paradigms and rules changed, fuelling an even more powerful opportunity for creativity and imagination to spark new and better ways of solving both old and new problems.

Consistency takes rigour and resolve

The stuff that kept me awake at night in March 2020 has entirely shifted from the stuff that keeps me awake in March 2021. I write this piece, locked down in Brisbane, a stark reminder (if we ever needed one) that we are doing business in uncertain and unpredictable times, but that outsized outcomes will come to those with the rigour and resolve required to remain strategic and consistent.

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