“We are only limited by our creativity”
New York, October 17th, 2017
Considered one of the most innovative companies in design out there, digital-first creative agency Code and Theory has been standing out for its work over a long time. The agency employs more than 375 people on its four branches in New York City, San Francisco, London, Atlanta and Manila and has worked for big clients such as Bloomberg and Los Angeles Times.
It’s secret? A creative process and organization that delivers effective thinking and work, always reinventing the way they do things, according to Matthieu Mingasson, Group Director of Product at Code and Theory, who highlighted the highly talented individuals that work as a team in the agency.
Mingasson spoke to TIA to give us a sneak peek on how things are run at Code and Theory, focusing on the creativity culture at the agency, motivation of the staff and fulfilling the clients expectations.
“We have a unique way to lead and organize the work. We discovered and integrated creative and leadership practices that no other agency has yet figured out, to insure efficiency in decision making and collaboration,” Mingasson said.
How would you describe the creativity culture at the agency?
We are all doers at Code and Theory, and we believe that we are only limited by our own creativity. Our creative process and organization is based on delivering excellent thinking and effective work. Those are our unique KPIs. We are fast, lean and oriented toward tangible results. Two quick examples: after we redesigned the NY.gov website, the traffic was multiplied x4. After the Bloomberg redesign, their traffic surpassed the WSJ for the first time.
How is that culture cultivated and maintained?
We cannot forget that Digital is not a normal industry yet, it’s still only the beginning. We constantly need to reinvent the way we think, work, collaborate and deliver. Code and Theory is improving its creative process on a daily basis. We never think we have arrived. We always think we can do better for our clients and for ourselves. Each project is an opportunity to refine our creative process, craft a better approach. This keeps people on their toes.
How do you coordinate the work between the different branches of the agency?
That’s our secret recipe. We have a unique way to lead and organize the work. We discovered and integrated creative and leadership practices that no other agency has yet figured out, to insure efficiency in decision making and collaboration.
What are the skills someone should have to be part of your agency?
Love what you do, and know how to deliver it. That’s it. Everyone here is passionate about the work. The agency provides very exciting and challenging projects all the time. We want everyone to build a full understanding of the projects they’re working on and develop a vision for it. But you cannot just be passionate; you need to deliver in a very efficient manner. And efficiency doesn’t mean you have to work more hours. It’s quite the opposite, actually.
How important is teamwork at the agency and how do you encourage it?
Collaborative teamwork is critical to generate good thinking, but collaboration in itself is not sufficient to deliver good work. Part of our proprietary process is built to insure collaboration is driven towards very clear objectives, in a timely manner. Individual responsibility is what drives teamwork.
How do you motivate other members of the team to achieve more?
Involving people in the creative process, from the more senior leads all the way to the interns, is key to individual motivation. How can you care for your work if you only see 10% of the project? Our teams are lean and fast. Everyone has a clear role that contributes to end delivery. In addition, Code and Theory has developed a series of trainings in Creative Leadership to help promising profiles see the big picture and deliver for it.
What is the communication style within the team? Do you use any apps or tools?
We are technology agnostic. We use whatever works. Slack, GSuite, Trello, Airtable, you name it. One of our strengths is speed. If we see a good tool out there, we try it, and if we feel that’s the right tool for us at that time, we implement it within a week. That’s how fast we can move.
How do you ensure that the team delivers or exceeds customers’ expectations?
On team delivery, the first responsibility of a creative lead is to set a clear plan. You can’t hold your team responsible if you, as a creative lead, are not drawing a impeccable plan, track progress, course correct as needed, and assume full responsibility for what your team is or isn’t delivering.
How do you communicate bad news to a client or a member of the team?
We try to minimize “bad news” for our clients and focus on protecting them from it before it even happens! As for our team members, context and time is key. We care about everyone at Code and Theory, so we are not taking human relationship and resources lightly. We proceed with care and empathy, by delivering the relevant information at the right time to help people move forward.
If you could do any other job, what would this be?
Secret Service Officer, but that’s just me.