Bram Warshafsky (Twitter) used to be a brand manager at Johnson & Johnson, so he has first-hand experience with what makes huge corporations tick. After the recession in 2008, he felt increased pressure for marketing and sales departments to do more for less.

Bram co-founded 5Crowd to help solve this problem for other sales and marketing managers in Fortune 500 companies. Once a business has the blueprints from their creative agency partner, 5Crowd executes it for them affordably and without surprises, using their worldwide network of freelancers.

Today Bram explains what this market shift in the agency world means for you, but he also gets into the nuts and bolts of how he is able to manage a hyper-efficient team by focusing exclusively on execution.

Learn how @bramwarshafsky disrupts the agency model by focusing exclusively on execution Click To Tweet

If you’re stretched thin trying to offer every service under the sun in your agency, then this is the episode for you.

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Key Takeaways

Why the market is shifting towards specialists [3:30 – 10:30]

If you’re building a house, you have an architect who is able to think strategically and create a blueprint, but the actual building of the house requires an entirely different skill set. So instead of finding a one-stop-shop, the most practical and efficient option is to work with a team of builders that don’t do anything other than build houses from blueprints.

The physical production world moved towards specialization long ago, and as digital production matures we are seeing that move as well.

Physical production separates strategy and execution. As digital production matures we're seeing the same. Click To Tweet

The big agencies are great architects, but they just aren’t designed to efficiently or effectively build those strategies. Big corporations are starting to realize the value of decoupling strategy from execution, but they don’t want to have to become project managers or cultivate relationships with a dependable stable of freelancers. That’s where specialized “builders” like 5Crowd come in.

Leveraging technology to achieve insane efficiency [19:00 – 25:15]

5Crowd is able to offer their services affordably while maintaining good margins because they have been able to learn quickly and create highly efficient processes for work by focusing exclusively on execution.

After every single project, they have a post mortem to see where they can improve. If the best way to improve is to build a new tool to help the team, then they will invest the resources to do so because they know it will pay off.

5Crowd even created an algorithm that analyzes a handful of signals to create a risk score which can help alert a team to potential problems so they can intervene before the project goes off the rails. Wouldn’t it be nice to get a heads-up that something is off before you blow past a deadline?

All of this effort has made it so their project leads are capable of handling as many as 40 projects at once!

What is missing in remote work [27:15 – 33:30]

It seems like every day there is a new tool that promises to revolutionize remote work. And honestly, many tools have done that. Just think, how much easier is it to communicate with your team and manage your projects than it was even just three years ago?

Despite all the advancements, there is still one major component missing from the cloud collaboration tools: Empathy.

Despite advancements, remote work tools still lack empathy Click To Tweet

Remote work is advancing so fast that the research can’t keep up. We simply don’t know what impact this lack of direct human interaction has on people or how we can best remedy it.

Bram stresses the importance of learning about your team and at 5Crowd he flies out and co-works with somebody new every quarter so he can really get to know them. While there needs to be advances in this area for remote work to succeed, we always have to remember that our co-workers are more than just a screenname.

Remote workers need to remember their co-workers are more than just a screen name Click To Tweet

Want to learn more?

If you want to learn more about how 5Crowd is leading the charge of specialization in the agency world and pushing the remote work forward, check out their blog. And to see what it’s like being a freelancer in “the crowd,” check out video clips of a day in the life of their freelancers.

Resources Mentioned

Nate McGuire
Madison Avenue Manslaughter

Thanks for listening!

How do you balance strategy and execution at your agency? Do you ever find it hard to do both well? Share your story in the comments below.