Living in Beta
â€œWe live in beta here,â€ says Damian Bazadona, founder and CEO of Situation Interactive, an award winning firm creating digital marketing strategies for experiential brands.
Whether they are innovating on ways to market a new Broadway show (how about tweeting the script of Next to Normal?) or opening up a conversation with 50+ employees in a monthly State of the Union where gritty input is expected and valued (â€œHey, whereâ€™s my path to growth?â€), Bazadona embodies what innovative leaders do and it seems to be working: the agency has been named to the top 50 places to work in New York City three years in a row.
I had a chance to sit down with Damian and learn more:
- Start with a culture match â€“ Fundamental to their cultural DNA is finding â€œANDâ€ not â€œBUTâ€ people. Teams count on each member to contribute ideas, listen and learn from each other, and move quickly. Every single department meets with a potential new hire to give their take on whether the candidate has the combination of values and skills to thrive at Situation Interactive.
- Support risk. â€œWe build risk thinking into everything we do,â€ Damian says. â€œWeâ€™re comfortable entertaining crazy ideas though we need to see why â€“ whereâ€™s the payoff?â€ Part of the imbedded thought process is spending client money as though itâ€™s your own.
- Create wins for all stakeholders. Beginning with the client, the Situation Interactive team polishes ideas until itâ€™s clear that all the players will experience success in the project. They invest time upfront understanding what each stakeholder needs for a win and they use those competing ideas as a creative constraint that fuels their best thinking.
- Avoid â€œheroâ€ or â€œloserâ€ labels. â€œWeâ€™re in this together,â€ says Bazadona. Collaborating is not bargaining among team members but sitting on the same side of the table asking â€œhow do we make this idea better?â€
- The data is right. â€œEverything we do is trackableâ€ in the world of clicks. Training people to think this way is critical. â€œItâ€™s not just about instinct, itâ€™s what we can prove works.â€
- Live in beta. Everything moves fast at Situation Interactive â€“ projects, people, deliverables. â€œWe expect people to run at the opportunity,â€ he says.
- Operate off a compelling purpose. Bazadona credits Jim Collins’ chapter on Purpose in Built to Last with challenging him to define what was most important. â€œDoing is better than having,â€ he says. â€œThatâ€™s whatâ€™s at the heart of our business â€“ we love what we do and that passion translates to a win for our clients.â€
Damian Bazadona and his team at Situation Interactive live their purpose off the field too. At last yearâ€™s holiday party, Damian suggested that employees consider buying less â€œthingsâ€ for their loved ones and instead focus on having a memorable shared experience together â€“ taking in a show or a ball game, for example. Many colleagues did just that, pioneering new traditions in their personal space.
Cheers to you, Situation Interactive, for creating an innovative business with a culture to match.
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Janice Maffei and Joanne Spigner are the founding partners of VisionFirst, helping teams to envision their future state and innovate to get there. They invented the rapid visioning tool, Vision-in-a-BoxÂ® and co-hosted a weekly program, â€œInvent the Future,â€ which showcased innovators in business, education and not-for-profits.
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