London offered me a different experience than I've had to date: to be immersed in a completely born-and-bred digital shop. Lean Mean Fighting Machine was founded on digital (bravely upon banner advertising, no less) and is still building and innovating upon digital.
I would normally dig around and ask about how digital and social media were
integrated into the fabric of an agency's work, culture and business model, and
the effect that effort had, it was obvious from minute number five at Lean
Mean Fighting Machine that these kind of questions would not be necessary.
night before I visited Lean Mean Fighting Machine, Creative Partner Dave
Bedwood sent me an email.
"We are doing a 'Columbo' session in the
morning at 9am, for a new client. It might be worth you sitting in on it," it read.
what?" I thought. But I said, "I'll be there."
didn't initially draw the connection to the '70s American crime fiction
television film series, but nevertheless, it was still clear that Lean
Mean Fighting Machine was in full-out detective mode.
untrained eye, it would look like a brainstorm. All parties in the room
gathered around a table to talk about inspiration for a new client,
representing creative, account management, strategy and production. But because
it's Lean Mean Fighting Machine, technical development was also
present in the room and it wasn't a brainstorm. It was a Columbo, and all eyes
were on a flat screen TV.
flat screen was a blog, but not just any blog. At the beginning of any new
client or project (for as long as they have in lead time), prior to
gathering in the room, the greater Lean Mean client team populates the blog to
seed ideas. Sometimes the client is invited to participate in the Columbo and in
populating and reviewing the blog, sometimes the process remains internal. Once
gathered, the Lean Mean client team reviews and discusses what they found and
posted, in "show and tell" style.
incredibly interesting and useful. Far from the cold brainstorms
one might experience elsewhere, where the client team enters the room and
starts the discussion by reading a brief and then staring at each other, the
Columbo allows the client team to enter the room armed with inspiration. Not
only does it effectively leverage the infinite possibility of online sources,
from videos to photos, posts, articles and research, to pop culture reference,
music and cartoons, but it also allows for personal input. Some team members drew
and posted photos and sketches, while others profiled different aspects of the
competition and the market. No one is told what to post.
diversity of the individuals in the room brought diversity to the perspectives
posted on the blog, and the angles from which the new project had been
examined. Individuals' natural bent and interests came through via what they
shared, informing different facets of the conversation; girly girls (smart
girly girls) brought important popular culture reference perspective, insight
into women's beauty rules, routines and regimens and knowledge of key
influencers in pop culture, while the more technically-minded folks thought
deeply about the mechanics of how the product worked and the insights within,
while others still posted a blend of humorous and miscellaneous personal
inspirations (i.e. “I was reading this article
and it made me think this about
blog was chalk-full, with pages and pages of thought-starters. There wouldn't
have been enough time to collectively review the entire blog, but the team was
expected to have done so on their own (and all appeared to have happily done so
as much out of personal interest as professional expectation). As each piece
was shared, a conversation would explode and build, setting the collaborating minds
on fire. The conversation went on for nearly two hours, never missing a beat,
energy levels never dropping. The entire team walked away jazzed and the
creative and development teams, in particular, walked away informed and ready
this was only the first two hours in my digital Lean Mean Fighting Machine
immersion. Not a bad start.