MSLGROUP Asia: Well-Aligned with Global Client Engagement Systems and Processes

ace 2On the morning of April 7th 2013, a bunch of MSLGROUP Asia’s senior managers convened around the coffee area in a conference room in Singapore, introducing each other and swapping common client stories in anticipation of what I for one, expected to be a rather dry summit on systems and processes.  DSC_5662How wrong we were!  The four day summit prompted intense discussion and innovative case studies delivered with innovation and passion – reflecting one of our key goals of being an unbound source of creativity and engagement.

It began with a refresher on the roots of the agency and how we have come to be one of the world’s leading strategic communications and engagement consultancies.  Case in point: did you know  that we have been present in Asia for more than 23 years, and that we are now the largest PR, social media and events company in both China and India?  As you begin to discuss the agency’s success, our being named 2012 PR Agency of the Year by Campaign Asia-Pacific becomes less of a surprise.

After further discussion around what we stand for as a brand, we moved on to how we can use various systems and processes to deliver constant and consistent improvements in service, innovation and efficiency.  Interestingly, some of the elements were nothing new, and closely reflect our MSLGROUP Asia Employee Traits.

DSC_5695That said, some of these often get pushed aside due to the pressures of voluminous daily deliverables.  The ACE Summit, however, reminded us of their importance.  Often perceived as trivial, these actions are crucial in averting client and inter-team frustrations, issues and stresses, and ultimately delivering a stronger service.

As part of interactive activities to illustrate some of these values, traits and important considerations, teams delivered creative presentations using mood-boards and skits. One team used Dilbert as a rather funny way of demonstrating the characteristics of a strong activation leader (or not in the case of Dilbert).  Another team used famous quotes to illustrate how we must, as creative thinkers, be open and curious and always challenge the status quo.

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I am sure our clients will begin to value us even more as we embrace these global best practice standards to further strengthen our offering.

Seven things that I was reminded of during the Summit were:

  • Put in place and embrace a rhythm of business, with firm and regular calls, meetings and reports.  Why?  Apart from ensuring a healthy relationship, it helps resolve issues before they become problems and provides greater visibility of growth opportunities.
  • Creativity benefits from structure – having boundaries around brainstorming sessions helps.
  • Put the “Yes, and..” rule in place at the beginning of a brainstorming session – this will stop those negative idea swatters!
  • Don’t forget or underestimate the importance of regular contact with a prospect during the pitch process, it can be the final drop that tips the balance.
  • Treat colleagues as you would like to be treated – Be empathetic when working with others, especially across borders and timezones.
  • Be as specific as possible with scope of work, doing so will reduce future misunderstandings.
  • Share – if you have a cool campaign or even just see something outstanding, share it with colleagues – cumulative curiosity makes us a more powerful entity!

Serious stuff aside, the meeting was interspersed with some memorable social events as well.  I get the feeling the chilli crab meal is becoming something of a tradition, with particular leaders rapidly becoming famous within the agency for their projectile crab-cracking style!

Throughout the summit, one thing that became very clear was how aligned we all are in our thinking and approach and in our desire to exceed expectations.  It is very clear that we truly are one united team separated only by geographical borders.