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DigitasLBi and MAA unveil results of Collaboration Counts research

Collaboration Counts research busts key myths around agency/client relationship.

Led by member agency DigitasLBi, the Collaboration Counts initiative aims to define the true value of collaboration to agencies and clients.

At an event hosted by The Guardian, the MAA’s media partner, a packed audience heard that the study, involving 1,795 responses across four agencies (DigitasLBi, HeyHuman, Six, and Wasserman), busts five myths of collaboration.

Michael Islip, the chief executive of DigitasLBI, and Blaine Landis, the assistant professor of organisational behaviour at University College London, opened the event by talking through these five myths in greater detail.

Myth 1: Collaboration is always good

The research showed that, in terms of frequency and timing, collaboration is not always good. The jump from “once a day” to “multiple times a day” seems to result in people feeling quality of work decreases.

Myth 2: All agencies are different

The study found that, despite the industry’s belief in differences between agencies, people are more different to each other than rival agencies. The value of collaboration experiences mainly relates to the characteristics of individual interactions.

Myth 3: Co-location is always a good thing, regardless of where it is

Agency employees may not always enjoy being based at their client’s offices, but there is evidence to suggest that it produces the best outcomes.

Myth 4: Agencies are resistant to collaboration with clients

There’s often a perception that agencies would rather keep clients at arm’s length. But just 9.3% of respondents found that collaborations were either “a bit more than the ideal” or “too much”.

Myth 5: Clients and agencies always know when they have reached an optimum level of collaboration

The research uncovered that, when it comes to collaboration, what’s best for agencies might not be best for clients. Leading to the finding that there is a need to implement standard measurements to assess optimal levels of collaboration.


The Collaboration Counts event continued with a panel, chaired by John Monks, the founder of creative leadership consultancy Curve. The panellists were: Liz Richardson, the managing director at HeyHuman; Simon Couch, the business strategy director at Wasserman; Nick Goff, the business growth lead, at The Marketing Store Worldwide; and Lizzie Shupak, the head of innovation, at DigitasLBi.

Monks steered the panel in a discussion around new financial models, location, people, and teams. Also raising the prospect of covering, in the second wave of the Collaboration Counts research, multi-agency collaboration.




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