The days of the do-it-alone executive and their cubicle-housed employees are behind us. The rise of digital has transformed where, when and how many of us work. Through concrete innovations in technology and a broader cultural change in our attitudes towards what a company can and should be, is all that a collaborative business encompasses.
Digital startup culture has brought both open floor plans to offices beyond the tech sector and public attention to the dangers of unregulated CEOs, with disaster stories like that of Uber’s Travis Kalanick being shared daily. A cry for accountability and stability is also coming from investors, who take issue with the top-heavy leadership and concentrated risk of solo-run projects that may end in flames. As a result of these insights coming out of the digital transformation, many executives are just now beginning to understand the central importance of collaboration in every aspect of work.
The “symphony conductor” and design studio model
Take the structural changes occurring in design studios around the world. Once an industry dominated by “lone geniuses,” fashion design is seeing an uptick in teams and cooperatives—like Vetements and Etudes—trumping the single, superstar designer. “It’s not just the vision of the genius anymore, but a collective vision,” Paris-based creative agent Mathias Ohrel tells Women’s Wear Daily. “A single mind cannot be as effective as a group, and the role of collaboration today is central.” Ohrel says the “brooding, dark, mysterious figure in fashion” like the late Alexander McQueen has seen its best days—designers, investors and consumers are largely interested in seeing what playful and active collaboration in the studio can achieve. “The creative director of today has to be a symphony conductor,” he concludes.
While a studio environment already seems custom-tailored to fostering collaboration, traditional offices have been granted the opportunity to replicate that back-and-forth creative process through the proliferation of coworking spaces (WeWork) and collaborative and cloud-based technologies, or “groupware”. Collaboration tools like Skype, Slack, Trello, Dropbox, and Google Apps make working with others easier than ever, whether they’re across the conference room or across the world. Forward-thinking businesses are now embracing these tools with open arms: as of July 2017, Dropbox has over 8 million business customers and 500 million total users, with 1.2 billion documents uploaded daily. And a 2014 report released by the Cloud Alliance for Google Apps and Frost & Sullivan shows that 59% of Google Apps administrators say Google plays a key role in their organizational IT infrastructure—with another 29% saying that it’s the core.
In 2011, recognizing the power of these then-nascent tools and the implications that the digital transformation could have for third-party agencies, netamorphosis founder Lyde Spann asked, “What does a consultancy built around true collaboration look like?”
The netamorphosis approach to productive collaboration
Today, netamorphosis considers itself the “WeWork” solution for digital platform and performance management, founded with collaboration, communication and translation in mind. Through inclusive and communication-centric internal practices, the early adoption of groupware and a focus on full client-team integration, we’ve cultivated a radically collaborative approach to digital consulting, one that leads to unparalleled financial and metric growth for the clients with which we partner.
This approach results in concrete benefits for our clients, including:
- A significant employer cost savings (33% in the states New York and California) by replacing a one-man in-house position with a team of 7+ for approximately the same base salary
- The performance benefit of a small, specialized team that works an average of 55 hours (exclusive of training) a week and serves as a “Swiss army knife” of solutions
In essence, neta is able to work more efficiently as a direct result of productive collaborative systems, saving time and money while preventing the burnout common among individuals loaded with every digital task at a company. We live by the philosophy that small teams support one another and, in turn, support their clients. As Harvard Business Review reports, “Smaller teams are more likely to share knowledge, meet deadlines and shift workloads flexibly.”
For the businesses with which we partner, collaboration is fostered by taking success tactics from globally recognized organizations and applying them to smaller scale digital platforms and channels. neta has made collaboration the cornerstone of our business, building a foundation of success for our clients in today’s digital economy.
Vision, communication, integration, & growth
We recognize 4 key elements upon which neta’s productive collaboration is built:
- A visual path forward to guide clearly defined and universally understood goals between our team & clients, guaranteeing success
- Transparent, two-way communication to ensure deadlines and goals are met while creating a safe environment in which to develop ideas
- Full-team integration regardless of location—aided by collaborative technologies—to maximize time and resource efficiency while following a shared path forward
- Laughter & mistakes that keep us open and creative while allowing for opportunities to safely fail, learn, and drive growth experiences for our team members and clients
At the outset of working with a new client, we develop a visual way forward, called either our ‘Strategy’ or ‘Bi-annual Marketing Plan,’ that provides a detailed view of what to expect from our collaboration in the months to come. Our strategy includes a comprehensive systems roadmap of all future collaboration technologies we’ll be using with our client, in addition to the digital infrastructure that will best serve future performance scale. We use this strategy as a touch point to ensure that benchmarks are met and exceeded as our relationship progresses. When we’re tasked with developing digital ecosystems and eCommerce platforms, we deliver upon this roadmap with robust and sound system integrations, our technology strength.
Our commitment to a shared visual way forward would mean nothing without continuous, two-way communication linking our teams every step of the way. We like to say that collaboration is communication, and at our core we are translators, making things clear for our clients while translating their goals into digital realities. This communication guarantees that neta philosophies and objectives are understood across all levels. Both internally amongst our own team members and externally with our clients, we prioritize face-to-face communication as much as possible. In an average week, neta team members can expect two or more touch-bases (TBs) with their supervisor and multiple working sessions with our team and with clients (either in person in our office or over Skype/Google Hangouts), all without the toxicity that may hamper communication within traditional corporate structures. This comes after comprehensive yet efficient training that utilizes detailed visual guides and Google Hangout walk-throughs to empower team members in knowledge transfer.
Our clients can expect the same level of communication and commitment to transparency in our relationship, in addition to being provided with comprehensive analytical and financial planning models. By sharing core benchmarks such as analytics KPIs, we build a common objective among our team members, which incentivizes individual performance and thus leads to client results that far surpass growth expectations.
We like to say that we take a hybrid approach to consulting, combining the on-site capabilities of a traditional consultancy or in-house employee with the efficiency and expertise of an independent digital agency. Contingent on cultural brand influence, being on-site for a client can be paramount at times, which neta founder Lyde understood when traveling to Spain for Zara and Mexico for luxury retailer El Palacio de Hierro. But unlike traditional consultants who set up camp for months on end in a client office, charging per diems, we often rely on technology to transport us to the companies with whom we work, becoming fully integrated in their digital teams. Our early adoption of collaborative technologies like Dropbox and Google Hangouts make this an incredibly smooth process, which is evident in our company’s internal practices. Our Client Services Manager Carly telecommutes daily to our NYC office from her home in San Diego using Google Hangouts, resulting in a computer we lovingly call “Carlybot.” By utilizing web-based technologies, we become integrated team members for all of our clients, regardless of location, clearly articulating their goals reinforced by tactical implementation as we progress.
We ultimately understand that collaboration can’t be productive without the room to laugh and make mistakes, which leads us to finding the best solutions. By valuing laughter, honesty, trying new things, and letting ourselves fail at times, we grow stronger as a team and cultivate the strongest, most creative solutions while learning from our mistakes in a safe environment. These mistakes strengthen, not hamper our clients’ results, as internal QC guarantees that mistakes are absorbed and corrected and provide a learning experience for everyone involved. Calling back to Mathias Ohrel’s perspective on collaboration in design studios, he states, “There needs to be cross-pollination, joking, playing, interaction—and failure. Command and control is less and less viable today.”
neta + Newport Academy
As we’ve refined and implemented our collaborative approach, our clients have seen concrete growth results as a direct result of our integration within their teams. For Newport Academy, the pre-eminent teen rehab center that treats teens and their families struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues, we provided a strategy, re-launched their digital ecosystem and web platform and now function as their CMO (Chief Marketing Officer), overseeing their content team, all clinical and outreach marketing collateral, SEO and 8 distinct marketing 3rd Party partners.
To ensure that we share a common path forward for Newport Academy’s growth progression, neta has delivered and continues to implement:
- 6-Month Annual Strategy Delivery that outlines and executes upon customer acquisition costs, team development, strategic planning targets that achieved unprecedented growth for their organization
- 2 weekly video working sessions across neta + Newport Academy teams for continued collaboration and progress towards initiatives
- Individual Google hangouts and phone calls focused on nuanced, productive conversation between peers and cross-leadership
And through our collaboration, Newport Academy has achieved:
- Admissions and leads attributed to digital acquisition significantly increased
- #1 and #2 Google (SEO) rankings for the word “teen rehab” (the most competitive term in the teen treatment space)
- # of forms (since launch) increased +296% following website re-launch
- Award recognition from numerous organizations for newportacademy.com
None of this would be possible without our unique approach to client services that positions communication and collaboration at the forefront.
Collaboration doesn’t just happen, it’s crafted
Throughout our work with a client, each decision we make is thoughtful and purposeful. We understand that collaboration doesn’t just happen; it takes a conscious effort to be communicative, inclusive and focused in order to achieve productive collaboration, which in turn generates the best results for our clients. Every service we provide, from strategic planning and financial planning to SEO, eCommerce builds and eCommerce Strategy, is delivered with these principles in mind.
We’re able to serve clients from around the world because we are communicators and translators, versed in the language of “digital.” By creating a visual way forward, measuring and responding to performance objectives (KPIs) and emphasizing day-to-day communications with our clients, we keep teams aligned toward common objectives and produce the best work possible.
Our collaboration approach has driven an incremental 3-Year CAGR of 208%, proving its power across sectors, countries and platforms. If you’re trending behind an average digital channel growth rate of 70% per year, why not try a growth-inspired, technology based approach?