The Business of Design: a three-legged stool

1 year ago by

Who are these workshops for? This course has been designed to help studios large or small with continuous improvement of the things that keep an agency running well – clear and informed strategic planning, sound financial management and building great teams.

Whether you have been in business for one year or many there’s always more to learn. As 2020 so deftly taught us, change is ever present and with it can come both adversity and opportunity, so it pays to keep the three legs of your stool well maintained. The course is set across three workshops, you can come to one or all three.


With Donna Maxwell


Business Strategies are most effective when they are driven by your WHY, informed by your market and when they shape the agencies client strategy and the way the studio operates.

What we will cover:

  • An approach to building a business plan that is anchored to your WHY and oriented towards action
  • How to define your Customer Portfolio strategy and track and adjust it over time
  • Designing an Operating Model for your agency which you can share with clients via a Playbook
  • We will also introduce the content of the second and third workshops at a high level

What you will come away with:

An approach to developing three things – a high-level, action-oriented business plan, your Customer Portfolio Strategy, and an Operating Model / Playbook. A view of some of the fundamentals of financial management and building great teams and clarity as to whether the next two workshops are of value to your agency and who to send along.


With Donna Maxwell & Warren Meyer


If you can reasonably predict what will be in the bank account each month of the year(s) ahead you can make informed decisions about where to invest and when and how to manage payments… and the bank.

This workshop will cover:

  • How to use a Cash-flow Model, in conjunction with your P&L, to make good commercial decisions
  • What can be done to improve Commercial Certainty within projects and portfolios, introducing a framework that gives clarity on how to protect project outcomes
  • How to set and track business measures that are fit for purpose
  • The role of a Risk Register, where the probability and impact of possible future adverse situations (i.e. a pandemic) are assessed, and planned for.

What will you come away with?

A picture of the role of a cash flow model and its relationship with your P&L as key business decision-making tools. Instructions as to how to build your own Commercial Certainty model and recommendations for how to set business measures to steer the business and a risk register to protect it from adversity.


With Donna Maxwell and Jason Biggs


The ability to identify the unique strengths and preferences of your team makes a bunch of things easier – hiring, performance and development conversations, collaboration, even strategy setting.

This workshop will cover:

  • What is the Gallup StrengthsFinder Assessment and how can it be used to strengthen the performance of people and teams by focussing on what is good about each of us. Note – participants will complete a Strengths Assessment before the workshop
  • How to set actionable and empowering goals for individuals and teams, which align with business strategy, using the OKR Framework
  • A model for how to identify and build good managers that can coach for performance and grow teams and the business.

What will you come away with?

A view on how strengths can be used to bring new ways of working to your team, informed by each person’s uniqueness and a copy of your own Gallup StrengthsFinder profile. An intro as to how to set and use OKR’s and a strength-based model around how to find and build great people managers.




Donna Maxwell

Donna was an owner and director of DNA for 10+ years. The last three years of her tenure at DNA were in the role of General Manager, responsible for ensuring the agency was well-designed to hit both commercial and strategic goals.

Donna now runs a consultancy called Running Mate, which she set up to help business owners and leaders grow and sustain good businesses. Donna offers coaching, strategic consulting, project-based work and business-sitting. She also has multiple governance positions.

Jason Biggs

Jason worked in the corporate sector for over 19 years, marketing brands like NESCAFE, KLEENEX and HUGGIES. He started his consultancy eight years ago and operates as a leader performance coach, trainer and facilitator. Jason has now worked with over 50 organisations from large organisations to teams of 5 and coached 100’s of people.

Jason’s focus is on helping people understand why they do what they do using Gallup StrengthsFinder as a tool to unearth this, and how to leverage this to get what they want our of their business role.

Warren Meyer

After 20 years’ business advisory experience including PwC and KPMG, Warren established a consultancy specialised in assisting privately owned businesses with profit improvement strategies.

Warren has extensive experience developing and embedding tools and processes, including cash flow forecasting and reporting systems and helping businesses improve their financial planning and operational practices.


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