Ideas  /  Andy Eltzroth  /  10.27.20

About 12 years ago, during the 2008 recession, we started using the term “nimbility” to describe our young design firm. In case you haven’t heard the term, the Urban Dictionary now provides this definition:

The art of being nimble.
That was done with nimbility!

Back then, we took pride in our capacity to solve and execute complex brand communication challenges without bogging clients down in process or bureaucracy. Partly by design and partly out of necessity, we had no hierarchical management structure, no middle man—just a business built around direct client/designer collaboration. Simply put, we worked hard to be strategic and creative thinkers with the ability to execute big ideas efficiently—with nimbility.

So here we are again, in the middle (hopefully!) of a global crisis that’s hammering economies with an incredible amount of uncertainty. As many businesses work to navigate the new reality, doing more with less is more critical than ever. And while we’re a larger firm now, with broader capabilities, by design, our structure is the same, and our core attribute, beyond creativity and our innate ability to GSD, is still nimbility.

I read an article back in January of 2020: How to Succeed in Uncertain Times. Hard to believe the authors knew what was around the corner, but the piece talks about the traditional approach that occurs during times of uncertainty. Leaders freeze hiring and salaries, cut marketing and branding budgets, minimize growth, avoid new markets, or hold off on making business decisions. Of course, they’re looking to survive and stay afloat, but that approach can often have massive implications on a company’s ability to rebound effectively. The article’s authors argue for a slightly different approach:

How should leaders manage in the face of uncertainty? The good news is that we know, from theory and practice, the right approach and mindset to adapt. Sailors navigating tricky winds, shifting tides, and mercurial weather systems prepare their vessels so they can sail safely and purposefully, and companies can do the same. Rather than simply reacting instinctively and responding to the informational noise detected by their instruments, leaders can move swiftly and proactively to alter their course and chart a new one — and capitalize on dislocations in the market.

When times get weird, smart organizations take action. We see many of our clients making proactive moves, shifting gears and changing course, looking for, and taking advantage of new perspectives. They’re practicing their form of nimbility, and because they’re used to relying on ours, they’ve been able to lean on our team to help them pivot and react and move ahead.

Operating a small creative agency is like sitting in the front car of a roller coaster every day, and rarely do you feel like you get to step off. The constant sense of uncertainty we’ve felt since day one has become an advantage. Because we work in the creative field, we’re always looking for the “what if” in the “what now” since creativity is about traveling to parts unknown. And because we view change as a constant and assume there’s no such thing as certainty, that nimbility mindset will continue to serve our clients and us well.

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