Pod Structure: Creating the Right Team for the Project

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Are you trying to maximize your team’s efficiency? If you’re in a creative industry, this may depend on your willingness to kill the traditional departmental structure. This standard often involves long hierarchical chains, which introduce many obstacles to project development.

The biggest issue of the traditional structure is its tendency for restriction and bottleneck; If one rung in the chain fails, everything that follows will suffer. This dependency on individuals further up the chain is destructive twofold: Production-level employees lose empowerment, and the development process halts until the chain is re-established.

So, how do we adapt?

The Pod Structure

The pod structure is nothing new for industry juggernauts like Google and Hubspot, where it is implemented regularly to complete projects large and small. But, what exactly is a pod?

By definition, a pod is a small group of individuals with complementary skills working with a shared purpose to complete a portion of a larger project or campaign. The pod is not a “process,” but a way of thinking. It’s a complete mental shift, with the onus of responsibility to make decisions and complete tasks placed completely on the pod. No more chains. No more bottlenecks.

CREATING A POD

Establish the Goal(s): Begin by defining the goal or deliverable for your pod. Basically, what’s the pod’s purpose? Once you’ve laid out what the pod needs to accomplish, you’ll be able to select the team members appropriate for the job.

Assign a Leader: Pick a captain for your ship. This person should be well-versed in the expectations of the goal and/or project and be capable of directing the actions and decisions of his or her fellow pod members.

Assemble a Team: Once you have your leader, it’s time to choose the remaining pod members. Pods should be between two to six people. Any more than six, and you should split into two groups. Ultimately, the needs of the pod will determine who should be included. If you need to make a landing page, don’t pick a pod full of media buyers.

Define Member Roles and Deliverables: Great! Now that you have your pod and pod leader, you must give each member a role and deliverable. Remember that these deliverables, when combined, should equal the project goal.

Launch: You’re almost done! Everyone is assembled and has a job. All that’s left to do is to set your deliverable deadlines, establish any checkpoints or pod regroups needed and release your pod into the world!

Benefits of the Pod Structure

How, exactly, can using pods increase the efficiency of an agency? In more ways than you’d think. Research-based feedback from industry leaders like HubSpot, Google and Big Spaceship report that pod structures have immensely helped with increasing production efficiency and team collaboration. Specifically, there are six major areas of improvement:

 1.  Employee Empowerment: Team members are made to feel comfortable and confident to make decisions without the involvement of upper management. This helps encourage a less top-down approach to leadership and autonomy within small teams.

 2.  Team Efficiency: Pod structure implementation offers a more agile process for tackling projects. This allows teams to be more nimble through frequent reviews and ensures the right people are involved at the right time.

3.  Collaboration: Team members can be utilized throughout multiple pods to accomplish different goals, which increases peer-to-peer collaboration and accountability.

4.  Communication: Working in small units allows team members to quickly reconvene and share information on a project or discuss issues that arise.

5.  Accountability: Pod structures foster a shared sense of awareness and responsibility – to each other, the team, the product, the client and the deadlines.

6.  Innovation: With constant communication between different parts of the puzzle, this system creates a “learning culture” within the agency, helping to maintain standards and accomplish major project milestones.

Considerations

Keep in mind that any change you introduce to your team, whether large or small, will take time and commitment to make stick. There’s a learning curve with everything, and pods are no exception. If you’re adopting this strategy for the first time, here are a few points to consider:

  • Prepare a Pod Onboarding Presentation: Not only will this be helpful for your current crew, but it’ll come in handy when you eventually add new people to your team. This can be as simple as a short guide for new workers to navigate pod creation and usage.
  • Use a Pod Feedback System: Quarterly employee surveys measuring the success of your new work methodology can help you see what’s working and what needs work.
  • Tweak the System: What works for one company might not work for everyone else. Constantly evaluate the failures and successes of your pods, and tweak as needed.

And there you have it! If you have any questions or feedback on your experience with pods, please give us a shout at [email protected]!

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