When More than a Little Knowledge Can Be Dangerous
Release Date: 07/30/2018
Jeff Katz is CEO of Definition 6, a 20-year-old content marketing and digital agency working with a high-profile, household-brand-name client list. D6 creates content and the technology that allows brands to deliver and measure the effectiveness of those messages and has won both treasured client recognitions and a plethora of EMMYs, ADDYs, TELLYs, and WEBBYs.
Jeff joined D6 in 2000 as president and chief operating officer and oversaw the cultural and functional integration of acquisitions. Jeff feels that one of his company’s advantages is that it can, not only provide creative content (as can many of the larger agencies), but also designs and builds the technology to deliver that content.
What does a company do when it wants to expand its offerings? Many companies, wanting to “do more things,” develop the requisite skills inhouse.
A more dramatic way to increase skills is to buy companies that do what you want your company wants to be able to do: a move that brings both advantages (the company may bring its talent and its customers} and risks (Will the new company be a cultural and business “fit”?) D6 took private equity in 2009 in order to acquire companies with skilled services that would broaden its offerings.
In an effort to smooth operations, Jeff brought new and old employees together so they could learn everything about how the business operated. He discovered that more than a little knowledge was dangerous. Once a specialist in one area of the business learned about the operations of a different functional area, that “newly enlightened” individual would often try to take on the work that was totally unrelated to his or her position. Jeff realized this kind of “cross-training” diluted the strengths acquisitions brought to his company and that functional separation was necessary, so that, when certain skills were needed, people would “call in the experts.”
D6 currently employs 120 artists, musicians, strategists, software developers/architects/analysts, composers, and writers . . . and, unlike many companies, welcomes back the :boomerangs” —past employees who want to come back to D6.
As CEO since 2014, Jeff has refined the company’s focus and is currently working on projects that he feels will change its customer’s industries.