This is now my ninth year of doing an annual retrospective of my work year. It is (as I've said before in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020 and 2021) something that I find personally useful to reflect on the pattern of work across the year and what I've actually spent my time doing. It's all too easy to plough on, head down, moving from one project to the next without ever really taking a step back. So this is what this is. Emerging from the pandemic has meant that the uncertainty has remained (perhaps this is the new normal now) but I'm grateful to have seen another busy year, and one in which I've been fortunate enough to do some interesting work with some interesting people.
So in no particular order, here's what I did in 2022:
- Workshops: 2021 was a bit of a bonkers year for workshops (I did 155 virtual and 3 IRL that year) and this year saw a bit more of a balance between this and the other types of work that I do – in 2022 I did 60 virtual and 16 F2F workshops. I love workshopping. Every one is different and there's something about seeing people finding new ways to solve problems that is really energising. I worked with a big range of clients in 2021 including a Chinese Bank, H & M, Wolverine Worldwide (who do Merell, Saucony and CAT), Digital Guernsey, Schneider Electric, Statkraft and Abrdn. There were workshop programmes which stretched across the year for Shiseido leaders, and also a series of F2F ones with Legal & General which were a lot of fun. And it was also good to be back on the road again. I worked with two middle eastern banks which meant a couple of trips to Dubai, and also did a trip to Cape Town to work with leaders at Old Mutual. So lovely to be travelling again with work – I've missed it.
- Consultancy: A bit less of this this year probably but I worked with my friends at Econsultancy on a long-term project for Roche which involved mapping learning journeys, and also a really fun one with Wella around Agile Marketing. I also designed and authored two separate online courses around agile strategy and marketing this year which was something new to me.
- Speaking: most of my speaking these days seems to be for in-company events and there were some fascinating ones this year including talks for DeLonghi, Zambon, Atlantic Grupa, WE4A (for a group of African women entrepreneurs), Morgan Materials, CvE agile marketing consultancy, Etisalat in Dubai, and the CoOp. I also spoke at the Festival Of Marketing. One of my favourite projects of the year was researching and writing a brand new report for the IPA on creating mutually sustainable client/agency relationships and when that launched I gave a talk at their conference on the key outputs.
- Writing: this year has involved lots of writing. I wrote a number of best practice reports for the smart folk at Econsultancy including quick guides to Organisational Structures and Product Strategy and Marketing, and new best practice guides for Direct-to-Consumer models, ecommerce (a beast of a report which was a bit like writing half a new book if I'm honest) and a new one on Social Commerce. Book number three, Agile Marketing: Unlock Adaptive and Data-driven Marketing for Long-term Success, was published in April and the other big news is that this year I wrote an update to my second book Agile Transformation: Structures, Processes and Mindsets for the Digital Age with about 20% new content and the rest updated (you can pre-order that here). This book has had 62 4 and 5 star reviews now and has done really well so this pleases me greatly. And not forgetting my weekly newsletter of things that I've found most interesting over the past week which is now 12 years old (crikey) and which saw another 35 editions. I've kind of reached a stage with it where the numbers on the list are more than I could have ever imagined, but are now probably more static in terms of growth than it used to be. I guess there's far more newsletter competition now than there ever was when I started. Every week I get some unsubscribes and some new subscribers which I think is a natural thing, and I like to think is just refining the list so that our community gets better over time. It certainly still elicits great feedback which is lovely to get. Mailchimp has also gotten very expensive as the list has grown so I'm seriously thinking about moving to Substack. I also need to blog more. That's fallen by the wayside a bit this year which is not something that I'm happy about.
- Firestarters: Finally I have to mention Google Firestarters which has entered its eleventh year now and still remains one of my favourite things to do – having conversations with some of the most interesting people in the industry is just such a privilege. This year saw another 10 episodes including Ian Leslie, Sarah Salter, Dan Cullen-Shute, Trevor Robinson, Sara Tate, Rishad Tobaccowala, Rachel Mercer, Russell Davies, and Pats McDonald. We also launched it as a podcast. And we have some fabulous guests lined up for 2023 (and some more news about it to announce in the new year). I so love doing this.
2021 was a bit of a bonkers year if I'm honest. Both in terms of weirdness (with the pandemic and all) and how busy it all was (I kind of threw myself into work to deal with all the uncertainty). This year has felt marginally more measured but it still feels as if change is a constant and that every year my work evolves considerably. 2022 for me has also had a backdrop of personal challenges with a succession of testing family health issues to deal with which if I'm honest has not made it the easiest of years. But I'm grateful for the interesting work that has remained a constant throughout and I still consider myself privileged to be doing what I do and to be in control of my own destiny.
(Picture courtesy of me, and a rather tame example of #corporatecarpets).