For several months now I’ve walked down Charlotte St – the traditional home of advertising in the UK – and looked at the old Saatchi & Saatchi building; boarded up, windows empty but open, its corporate signage still on show and a black flag hanging over the entrance (with all the symbolism and metaphor that black flags have taken on over the past few years).
At first I wondered whether this was some kind of deliberate installation - the juxtaposition of the external, quasi-derelict, bombed-out corporate HQ look with the internal bright minds, genius creativity and cutting-edge client care.
Was this the antithesis of clients paying for a glass atrium?
Or was it just a derelict site where the agency which used to be there hasn't bothered to take down their corporate branding and left their black flag hanging in the breeze whilst they plan an amazing relaunch in their new place?
If so, and I’m still not convinced the agency could be that insensitive to their brand, it is a good metaphor for what many organisations do during a period of change. So much focus goes on the outcome, the re-vamp, the re-launch, the future, that very little if any energy is spent on managing the here and now. It’s fine to leave the black flag hanging in the breeze because once the new, shiny flag is put up everyone will be impressed and forget the interim.
But life isn’t like that. And, regardless of how brilliant the future, the present always needs to be looked after. Your visibility as an organisation, your behaviours, what you present to the internal and external world continue to matter - even when your focus is elsewhere.
So, if your organisation is going through a change, think for a moment. What’s the impact on those who are currently in your sphere? Will they be prepared to hang around long enough to see the bright future or will they view the lack of love and care for the present and take their business and talents elsewhere?