Taxi Studio is changing. Not in a new-normal-tinker-around-the-edges-kinda-way. We’re talking about the kind of structural and behavioural change that will gear us up for the future – to be the kind of agency our clients need. The kind of agency that people want to work for.
Why? Because two years ago we had eclipsed the 60-people point and were set to push through to 100. We had processes and promotions coming out of our ears. We were feeding a big machine (but we’d created a bit of a monster) and it didn’t feel ‘very Taxi’.
Last year we had a long look at the business and decided that size really did matter. Taxi has big creative ambitions and works with big brands, solving big challenges, but we decided we could do that better by being more agile and more collaborative. So we restructured our team and reduced in size, but that was only the beginning.
To ensure we can still offer big opportunities from this smaller beating heart, we’ve redefined how a leaner team (in today’s world) needs to be structured, developed and rewarded. Meaning our clients get the service they expect, and our team get more opportunity for personal growth and more enjoyment from what they do.
Our ambition is for Taxi Studio to be a collective of talent – playing to their strengths and doing what they love, without unnecessary hierarchy or titles. Everyone will be empowered and supported to grow, and fairly rewarded based on their contribution to the business.
More Clarity. Less Labels.
We’ve torn up the traditional ‘org chart’ (which after all was created for the 1920s not the 2020s) and remodelled ourselves as a collective.
We still need a framework but believe unnecessary hierarchy or overlap can be inefficient for clients and surface the wrong behaviours and motivations. We want our team to be motivated by either creating great work or creating the conditions for great work to happen, not where they sit on a chart.
Everyone is now positioned based on what they bring to the table not perceived seniority or length of tenure. The roles are distinctive, ownable and celebrate skills and responsibilities. Our hope is that a less hierarchical culture not only sets clearer expectations internally and for our clients, but that each person will have a stronger sense of identity and pride for the role they play.
Our designers are now all called ‘Designer’. We’ve peeled back the layers of Junior/Mid/Senior to focus on the specialist skills that a person brings, whether they have been working for one year or ten.
We have removed the top-down language of ‘Manager’ across the business and replaced with the more proactive term ‘Lead’ to indicate specific accountability within a function or project. This will give clients greater transparency about what each person brings and what they are paying for, without the (sometimes irrelevant) multiple layers.
As leading Procurement Consultant Tina Fegent recently wrote in Campaign. "From president to account executive, I have seen 12 different job titles under the account management section on agencies' fees. Within that, you have senior and junior, and I struggle to understand the real difference between a senior account manager and a junior account director. Clients don’t need the multiple layers. They want senior people who understand their business and their requirements".
There is often emotion and personal beliefs attached to a job title and changing convention doesn’t happen overnight. But shifting mindsets away from the badge someone wears and towards the value they bring is healthy. If current prefixes of seniority are a validation of progression and status, our new model is a validation of expertise and individuality.
More Mentoring. Less Managing.
Traditional structures emphasise promotion and focus on ‘moving up’ as you grow, and we have been a proactive developer of people in that way for a long time. The pathway to leadership can be a natural progression, but this isn’t right for everyone. Some people don’t want additional responsibility or to move away from their craft as they progress - supporting both ambitions is important.
We’ve always considered ourselves to be the caretaker of peoples’ careers while they are with us. And we take that role seriously. But Taxi’s future growth will come from striving for better, not bigger – so rewarding and celebrating ‘getting better at’ rather than just ‘working towards’ is a fundamental shift.
Our new approach centres around continual development through access to the right opportunities and building the right skills. We have removed Line Managers by removing ‘the line’ from our structure. And although each person’s development is still mapped out with their Head of Team, Mentors have been introduced to provide inspiration, advice, and pastoral care.
More Ambition. Less Convention.
This new thinking means lots of change – the way we are organised, the way we work and the way we behave. But there is nothing riskier for a business than standing still when everything around you is evolving.
If we want to Be More – for our team to achieve their personal ambitions whilst under our roof, and for Taxi’s success to be driven through our collective contribution, then we have to stop worrying about how other people do it (or what has always been) and redefine what’s right for us and our clients.