INNOVATORS VS COVID 19
Accelerate Growth by Combining Design Thinking and Lean Startup
We talked to Jean-Charles Ouazan about Audacy, a Digital consulting agency and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jean-Charles Ouazan: I’m very well, thank you. My wife and I are lucky parents of two children, one a 2-year old boy and one a 4-year old girl. This year was a challenge for everyone. We have found a new work/life balance within our family to work and enjoy our kids even more. And thankfully, no one around us has endured severe issues due to Covid.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Audacy?
Jean-Charles Ouazan: I joined Audacy in 2010 as a partner to restructure the agency from a web design studio to a design thinking and lean startup consultancy in Paris. Prior, I founded a trading company specialized in commodity trading, which was my first entrepreneurial experience. It led me to export food commodities in China and was a terrific experience for me as a new entrepreneur. People usually buy from China, and I had to sell to wholesalers in Hong Kong and Shanghai. Trust me, this kind of adventure shapes an entrepreneur!
How does Audacy innovate?
Jean-Charles Ouazan: Our design agency Audacy accelerates our client’s business results and innovations thanks to design thinking and lean startup approaches. We try to find creative and innovative solutions to their digital, marketing, communication, or strategic issues. We innovate through the methods we use to be better productive. We save time and money in project management, and as we often say: “why not going faster if possible?”
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Jean-Charles Ouazan: As a design consultancy focused on digital services, we are lucky enough not to be the least affected by the pandemic. It has been years since we’ve used daily collaborative solutions such as Asana, Zoom, Miro, Slack, Google Drive, or Cubly. What’s more, we work daily hand in hand with a community of very skillful people in the fields of strategy, design (UX designers, UI designers, researchers), marketing experts (growth hacking, SEO, SEA…), and front-end development, which has proven very useful and flexible for us. In brief, our organization was already agile before Covid, so it didn’t change much for us. The real change we observed was that It made our agile approach more accepted by everyone: indeed, in just a few months, remote work has been more normalized with Covid, which is a game-changer for the better.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Jean-Charles Ouazan: I think Covid19 has been an opportunity for businesses to test their processes’ solidity: if they have overcome Covid, a good chance is they are rock solid. We have seen an incredible opportunity in working remotely: our collaborative work has become more focused and more productive, so naturally, we’ve asked ourselves why. We’ve concluded that when you structure your meetings through video-conferencing, people get to be more focused on the topic that needs to be solved and less distracted by general talk. It is now more apparent than ever that organizing just a few weekly physical meetings leads to people being delighted to see each other and discuss important business matters. A the same time, it leaves daily collaborative operations to video calls.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Audacy in the future?
Jean-Charles Ouazan: Stress, anxiety, fear. It is part of life and for sure of business life! Covid is a psychological test for business owners, managers, and teams. Resilience is key to learning from our mistakes and continuing to grow in the right direction. We try to apply to ourselves what we advise to our clients (though it is always tougher!): test early, learn fast, iterate until you find the right recipe for your business success. We see ourselves as a startup in the advisory sector, solving our clients’ problems from strategy to implementation. We passionately believe in our methodology, which is 100% design thinking and lean startup. We wish to help more businesses, from startups to scale-ups, accelerating their learning curve, and success.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Jean-Charles Ouazan: Our competition has multiple shapes: advertising agencies, digital agencies, consulting companies, IT agencies, freelances… Our key advantages are our background as entrepreneurs (we’ve experienced how tough it is to build a business from scratch.), our agility, the proven Audacy methodology that can adapt to many situations, and our experience in the advisory field.
Your final thoughts?
Jean-Charles Ouazan: In troubled times like this one, startups don’t have a choice: they need to be more positive and constructive than ever. They must focus on opportunities: going more straight to the point and using their precious time to practical actions to help identify earlier the ingredients of their success. There has never been a better time to build new products or services, so rock on, “one jab at a time,” and be determined you will succeed because you eventually will!
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