At Digitas, I was an SVP Creative Director and the Experience Design Capability Lead for the Boston / Detroit region.

Much as with previous ECD roles, I was responsible for three basic things:

1) Running an unconventional multidisciplinary department (recruiting, staffing, educating, training, etc.)
2) Selling experience design work
3) Client relationship management with larger accounts (Bank of America, GM, Dunkin’ Brands, et al.)

With regard to the first item, running the Experience Design (XD) capability, this meant architecting, staffing and running a large multidisciplinary department that included visual and motion designers, writers of all ilks, industrial designers, usability experts, content strategists, and front-end developers. We utilized an agile methodology we called Speed to Real, which was first installed at Digitas only a year or two before by the brilliant Andrew Carlson (my boss, and now the CCO of Digitas). We were an agency inside the agency—roguish and bold, we were like swashbucklers cutting through red tape and procedural bullshit, turning a huge profit and winning awards, whilst pissing off half the building in the process.

As you might expect, the role was fraught with all the politics of a large agency owned by a publicly traded entity, and the internecine warfare could be pretty brutal. Yet the XD team thrived. The agency would have seasonal layoffs, as ad agencies often do, yet my department could never seem to hire quickly enough.

Why? Because Digitas XD served an unmet need in the marketplace. Our start-up mentality and approach to treating “business problems” as behavioral economics challenges, represented something new and different and difficult for large brands to accomplish on their own. We were able to credibly go to market as a large experienced full-service advertising agency that could put a functional, delightful, valuable, branded product in market in just two to four weeks.

Indeed, simply by demonstrating our Speed to Real methodology by selling cheap, three-week initial engagements that served as both discovery and a rapid prototyping phase, we grew from 16 people to over 40 individuals in the span of twelve months, and were responsible for roughly half of the revenue in the Boston/Detroit region.