Meet Two New Board Members

This month, IHAF is exploring the topic of Operational Excellence and what it means to in-house agencies. As part of this series, I asked the two newest members of IHAF’s Board of Directors, Mark Gibson, Assistant VP of Creative Services at State Farm and Wayne Barringer, Director of Creative Services at Boeing, for their thoughts on the importance of operational excellence within their respective organizations.

MS: Gentlemen, tell us a little bit about your in-house teams.

MG: The in-house Creative Services team at State Farm is nearly 180 people—from designers, writers, art directors and creative managers to programmers, planners and account managers, along with a host of other functions. We are a self-contained agency and provide the gamut of creative, from internal graphic design to external advertising and an assortment of services in between.

WB: At Boeing, we have a large, in-house creative team with 3D visualization designers, writers, photo/video, multimedia and other professionals across the United States.

MS: What does operational excellence mean to your in-house agency?

MG: It starts with a focus on the customer, and using this filter for everything we do. Customer needs and expectations drive our thinking and outcomes. It then goes to making sure we challenge the normal process, empower first-line leaders and employees to make changes to processes and protocol when the customer could be better served, and then, adapting, measuring, and evolving.

For the Creative Services team at State Farm, it begins with a clearly identified mission (why we exist) and vision (how we want to work, be perceived, and influence). It then transitions to the core behaviors we need to consistently demonstrate, regardless of role or rank or task or project (honest, passionate, smart, positive, accountable).

WB: We want to provide the most impactful creative, that’s produced very efficiently. To do that requires a confluence of many ideas—and a foundation of operational excellence. Do our systems support our workflow needs? Are our tools leveraged properly by our people? Do we have simple, collaborative communication channels and mindsets through which we can operate effectively? Does our culture crave the perfect balance of creativity and efficiency? These are just some of what we mean when we talk about operational excellence in house at Boeing.

MS: Do you have quantifiable performance measures for your team?

MG: We have some basic measures, including project counts, hours per project, budget and time service. We are in the process of developing additional departmental KPIs to help us better manage sourcing, capacity, and prioritization. We have yet to crack the code on getting meaningful, quantifiable feedback from our business partners, so that’s a goal for us in the coming months. The biggest measure we have undertaken so far with regard to metrics is our valuation model. This is our best attempt to quantify our actual value to the organization by capturing our hourly cost of doing business compared to an external agency, then showcasing how our low production and overhead costs and imbedded advantage can help the enterprise avoid significant expenditures.

WB: We look very carefully to make sure we’re helping our business partners stay true to the Boeing brand, that we estimate effectively and work within those estimates, and that our customers and business partners are supremely satisfied. Though it is a metric, we under-emphasize utilization because strong utilization must follow a great culture, great creative, and great operations.

MS: Can you recall any specific examples of when “operational excellence” has provided a tangible benefit to you and your in-house agency?

MG: We’ve had several creative assignments in the past 12 months where our ability to move quickly and do so at a significant cost savings has delivered great value to the organization. One involved a three-week assignment to develop a customer-facing video talking about a new product for consumers. We had literally two weeks to create and sell the concept, and a $60,000 budget. We nailed the creative in ten days, came in nearly $40,000 under budget, and helped spur adoption of the product by 30% after the launch. It opened many eyes in our organization, provided great value, and has prompted numerous additional assignments. More importantly, it secured our seat at the table of key enterprise initiatives early-on to add perspective and influence—not just take the order.

WB: Boeing is an operationally driven company. Our manufacturing operations are world-class, and that dedication provides tangible benefits to everything we do at the company. Within Creative Services, the tangible benefit is that we know where to pinpoint systems, tools, and communications breakdowns fairly easily—and fix them with high visibility and clarity. We also produce a tremendous amount of impactful creative each year. As you may imagine, we have the occasional emergent issue to deal with in the airplane business, and when we do, our team pulls together quickly and seamlessly, operating very efficiently to help create communications tools that help clarify the situation for internal or external audiences.

Thank you Mark and Wayne, for not only giving us a sense of what operational excellence means to you and your respective teams, but for giving your time and talent as new members of the IHAF Board of Directors.

If you’re interested in learning more about the operational gains that in-house agencies are making, join IHAF. You’ll find yourself among a community of professionals that are more than willing to share their insights and experiences across a wide range of topics.

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