Just off the phone from Duncan Bird, a former ad guy in London who’s now also the former VP of Futures of Sony BMG. He’s in the process of moving to New York to set up a new company of the ad agency we featured as part of our Cutting Edge Designers profiles, Anomaly. This new agency will be called, appropriately enough, Another Anomaly (damned smartypants ad people). But, while the new agency will share certain elements of business infrastructure, such as financial reporting, IT support, etc, it remains legally separate from its sister company. The set-up is an innovative solution to a problem that big corporations have wrestled with since time immemoriam. Namely. What to do when you get too big? And how to avoid being a victim of your own success?
As Bird puts it, "When companies get to a certain size, despite everyone's best interests and ambitions, they lose their clarity of vision and culture." He reckons the ideal employee number is somewhere between 60 and 100. Given that Anomaly already has 80-90 staff members, the only solution was, essentially, to start again. "An uber company loses its clarity, agility and ingenuity," remarks Bird. Then he points to someone he's been observing for the past couple of years, who's well known to the American public (and the world): Simon Cowell. Cowell has his own businesses-within-a-business, Syco TV and Syco Music, housed within Sony BMG. "He's brilliant and his ventures probably bring in 30-40% of Sony BMG’s revenues," says Bird. "His company has 9 people." The inference is clear -- let people continue to do what they do best and they'll continue to be successful. Protected, incubated ventures can do well for a bigger whole. As for whether Another Anomaly will be successful, well, we'll have to wait and see, but expect ventures that blend the worlds of music/entertainment. And in the meantime, in case you haven't seen it, here's an entirely gratuitous video of Paul Potts, the winner of Britain's Got Talent, a Simon Cowell protege who's taking the world by storm -- and who only recently was working at a branch of Carphone Warehouse.