Monday, 4 June 2007

Keeping it small...

ohm is such an evolving and malleable entity, few things are a certainty. But here’s two things I know:
1) We’re small
2) We’re virtual

Sure, we are small. A micro business with a core team of 3 plus several handfuls of designers, web developers, video producers, photographers and illustrators for project delivery. And we are virtual. We don’t inhabit a single space: ohm is not a bricks and mortar business; we work from serviced offices, coffee shops, studios and home offices all over the place. We have a single hang out at The Hospital where we get together every week.
I’m a firm believer that ‘small is beautiful’ when it comes to creativity of ideas and results: small units are great at devising effective and successful ideas. Get too big and you lose focus. And a fact that big business recognises: many big corporations have leftfield satellite operations which act like start-ups in order to have the enterprise and innovative to stay progressive.

Even Disney, the world’s largest purveyor of entertainment has divisions like this. The current issue of Fast Company tells the story of one such division in Disney’s TV businesses. Disney’s Digital Media Team focuses on “speed, collaboration and gumption”. “I see us a Silicon Valley start up within a big company” says Albert Cheng, Exec VP of Digital Media at Disney ABC Television Group. This division has a mission to “break some rules” and take risks in order to succeed.

And the 150-person department is certainly virtual; spread across different operations in three cities, in five buildings alone in LA. And this attitude helps the business stay progressive and fresh.

150 people is not small in our terms, but in the context of Disney’s 133,000 headcount, yes 150 is small. Richard Branson also advocates the merit of small business units, in his autobiography he talks about his desire to break up group companies when their headcount exceeds 50 as beyond that organisations get unwieldy.

Whether 150, 50 or 3 - at ohm our ability to devise and deliver successful ideas is about keeping it small. Big ideas from a small team.

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