Letter from SoDA's Board Chair
As I sit down to write this letter on a fall evening, I realize with a bit of anguish that Q4 is already one-third of the way over. If you’re like me, you’re cranking hard to close the year on a strong note. You’re pitching your heart out (hopefully winning some) and you’re urging your team to take on one more juicy project (Bill! Bill! Bill!) and striving to do the best work too! You’re also likely dealing with staff turn-over (or preparing for the inevitable departures in January after the holiday break!), shareholder expectations, and the usual relentless deadlines and pricing pressures. Whether you’re a brand marketer or an entrepreneur leading a digital agency, a production company or a design studio, you’re also likely beginning to work on your FY2019 budget—or at least you should.
Set all that aside for a second.
Now, welcome to the SoDA Report. In a sea of constant change and demands on our time you might ask yourself if you can afford to read this thick tome. I’d like to offer a counter-perspective: Can you afford not to?
The SoDA Report was conceived to help us pause, reflect, and act. It was conceived to help us make sense of the larger trends that are shaping our markets and our organizations—and inspire us to adapt.
Change is hard. Inherently, it’s something we abhor. It throws us out of our zone of genius, the known, the expected, the lovely margins, the accolades. Change is hard because it also carries a human cost: Adapt or die means that not all the people that helped bring your business this far will be right for your next journey. And that sucks. Because these are people you love. Let’s face it we didn’t get in this business to become millionaires (though some of you also managed to do that). We got in this business because we want to change the world. We want to do good work with good people, to do right by our employees, our clients, and our clients’ customers.
So, we’ve built human-centric organizations, data-focused organizations, agile organizations. We’ve tinkered with technology. We’ve tested stuff. We’ve become enamored with virtual reality and AI. We’ve broken things and rebuilt them. We‘ve moved fast. We’ve won a ton of things—and we’ve lost even more things.
But now it’s time again to reinvent our businesses, our departments, our careers.
Women continue to fight for equal treatment in the workplace. Isn’t this a battle my mother fought? Is it truly possible that we are still so far behind? It makes me sick to my stomach to admit this, but it is. We’re as far behind as we’ve ever been. And that is why SoDA has created an Equality, Diversity and Inclusion taskforce—led by Zoe Warne (August) and Hannah Kreisworth (AREA 17). I am so heartened and inspired by our community’s willingness to work together on this ongoing battle. If we really want to change the world, let’s change it now. Let’s make our workplaces for tolerant, more equitable and more inclusive for a wide range of voices, perspectives, and experiences.
None of this is easy, to be sure. Even if you are amazingly successful, there will be challenges and setbacks. It’s all elbow grease and hard work. But I trust you. I trust that you’ll find the inspiration and the direction to design your next evolution for yourself and your organization. And I trust that you’ll find insights to help along that journey in this report. And I’d love it if we went out for drinks and talked about everything you’re doing. Because let’s face it, sharing (and drinking) is indeed the best way to prepare for change.