Joe Phelps is an ex-rock ‘n’ roll drummer who founded a unique agency in the greater Los Angeles area. He’s also the author of Pyramids Are Tombs, which describes his successful philosophy of agency organization. The intriguing title underscores how siloed, pyramid-type structures are a death-knell to productivity. “The typical organization's design has so much inherent conflict of interest,” he says, “that people waste precious time talking internal politics, fighting budget turf wars, and such.”
The Phelps Group serves a number of international marketers and is a long-time member of ICOM, one of the world’s largest networks of independent advertising and marketing communications agencies spanning 50+ countries.
Joe started his company in 1981, and it has been a pioneer in integrated marketing communication for the past three decades. The agency is known for its ability to integrate advertising, promotions and public relations across all platforms-- largely due to the way the company is staffed and organized with self-directed, client-facing teams that receive ongoing feedback throughout the development of any project. According to Joe, “We've always been true believers and relentless innovators in delivering for our clients what we call "All Communications. One Voice™.”
Describing himself as a “Fun-loving guy,” Joe nonetheless is genuinely interested in “helping to invent a better way to work, where people can perform at their highest levels while being rewarded properly for their contributions.” He continues, “Whacky as it may seem, I'm driven to build something of lasting value that makes the world a better place.”
He believes that that #1 flaw in agency management is the lack of trust. “People respond positively to trust. It's a form of love. The more you trust them, the more they trust you, and it becomes an upward spiral. Today, unfortunately, there's not enough trust from top management in the people who actually do the work. Companies are using top-down, command-and-control structures—which hinders the processes and also hinders the performances.”
What role does innovation play in your marketing strategy today? Strategies are ideas on how to achieve objectives. Ideas drive innovation. So with all the changes in technology, we’re still basically in the idea business.
Therefore, our challenge is to create an environment that fosters ideas.
- How do we encourage more collaboration?
- Drive fear out of the workplace to encourage people to share their ideas?
- How do we evolve our total offering to attract the brightest idea-generating talent?