by Otto Marples at July 5, 2018

“Partnership, teamwork, joint effort, or whatever you choose to call it, collaboration is in the blood and bones and oft-palpitating heart of fst” – Otto Marples, COO


Last December, I published a blog very cryptically titled ‘Onions Are Not The Only Veg’, which talked at some length about skills diversity and some of the absolutely common sense changes to the way that we approach client services. In a nutshell, we’ve chucked the role of the ‘traditional’ agency Account Manager in the Thames and in its place we have a team of excellent marketers, each with individual specialisms and who are either natural strategists or project managers.

Five months on, our clients are seeing, and most importantly, feeling the benefits of our special blend of ‘thinkers and doers’ working on their projects. The skills balance that they enjoy gives them clarity in their objectives, better service and an improved end result. I hasten to add this is far from a new concept in our industry – our clients requirements have always changed to suit market needs – and the very nature of an agency environment means that we have to be über-adaptable to social, cultural, political and economic shifts.



Progress perfection takes time

Nurturing specialisms in our team can take a while, but it’s a worthwhile investment. One of our clients (an HR professional with over 20 years of experience) shared that the global research upon which she bases her development programmes is centred on a 70/20/10 rule:

•   70% ‘on the job’ learning

•   20% learning through online social platforms

•   10% traditional classroom/structured course learning.


We believe this principle is sound, as theoretical ‘anything’ is obviously less valuable than an actual ‘something’ (sorry Mr Hawking, please don’t send a lightening bolt for me!). The bespoke outcomes we reach for our clients also means that, at any time and for any project, a number of different skillsets are required, which keeps things interesting. Let’s face it; if you choose an agency career you’re certainly not the kind of person who enjoys a repetitive workload. But this variety ultimately begets a longer ‘on the job’ learning curve.

Bottom-line: if you have patience, you will learn skills, experience plenty of different scenarios and become better every day.



Know more, ‘Suck Less’ and collaborate frequently

Since we’ve introduced ‘Suck Less’, our in-house initiative to ‘know what we don’t know’ and embrace new skills in the workplace, we have already started the journey (yes, I was tempted to drop in “Don’t Stop Believin’” here, but our copywriters gave me that look. See who had the last laugh?). We’ve dissected the demons of digital marketing and, most recently, the Head of UK PR for Amazon Fashion, Harriet Robinson joined us to discuss the dark arts of public relations with a talk and Q&A session.

At our next event, to be held in our Marlow studio on Thursday 9th August, we’ll be learning how to ‘Suck Less at Realising Our Potential’, with three excellent talks on how we can achieve more of our potential as individuals, organisations and communities. Our doors are open to all, so do RSVP and join us for what promises to be another great evening.

‘Suck Less’ exposes us to another, well-known, but not so well taught skill that is essential in today’s workplace: collaboration. It’s the word of the hour in every organisation from here to Timbuktu, but quite rightly so. When teams come together effectively, everyone is better off.

Partnership, teamwork, joint effort, or whatever you choose to call it, collaboration is in the blood and bones and oft-palpitating heart of fst:



Internal Collaboration

The old ‘suits and studio’ model is criminally out-dated, yet so many agencies still subscribe to it. For us, cross-team collaboration is one area that’s been steadily improving and ‘Suck Less’ confirms that every single person in our ‘one team’ brings something special to the table that helps us to truly nail client’s needs.



Inter-Agency Collaboration

No agency is an island and it’s incredibly important to keep our eyes open in order to see what’s possible for our clients. We are better, more flexible and stronger when we look outside our own four walls to deliver projects.



Client/Agency Collaboration

Close working relationships with our clients are key in breaking down the traditional barriers that exist in ‘service’ relationships. Strategic thinking should always be a collaborative affair in order that the end creative output truly hits the mark and meets objectives.

Without wanting to trot it out too many times, it really is a journey – and not a destination. Our new outlook means we’ve always got one eye on what we can learn next and new ways to better ourselves, our teams and the work we do for our clients.