Oct 5, 2012
No. 46 - Agency Titles and Professional Culture
In this episode we look at agency titles; where they come from, what they mean, and how they tend to impact agency culture in a manner inconsistent with professionalism.Discuss
Agency titles serve well as indicators of seniority or as descriptions of focus. For instance, the Creative Director is likely someone with long experience and significant skill. You might rightly look up to and respect this person's input. Also, Information Architect is a good title for the person who does a lot of that sort of thing.
Problems arise, though, when more than just the titles are brought from the traditional agency culture.
Traditional agencies typically have a highly unprofessional culture. Titles in a traditional agency usually serve to enforce the unprofessional aspects; as not just indications of seniority, but as mechanisms to divide responsibility and remove authority. Professionalism ceases to exist where authority and responsibility are separated or shared.
Traditional Agency Model
- Top-down authority
- Balkanized/siloed technical structure
- Supervisory roles and management of underlings assumed
- All staff below the upper echelon are technicians
What this cultivates is a situation where the technician's role is to please his/her supervisor and so to make the top dogs look good (to the client and owner). This means that everyone learns to value pleasing (supervisors) above all else.
- Authority matched with responsibility, case by case
- Cooperative structure
- Mentoring, but no management
- All staff are autonomous professionals (or budding professionals)
In the professional model, titles might be indicative of seniority and are likely indicative of expertise or focus, but never indicate authority or project hierarchy.Discuss
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