Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Interviewer: Ekrem Dupanović
Translated by: Johannah Maurer
Interviewing Miša Lukić every two years has almost become a tradition. It is not part of some plan but is probably no accident either. The first big interview we did was when Maurice Lévy created Publicis One and entrusted Miša with overseeing all of Publicis’s Group creative, media, digital, and other agencies on 30 markets. A bit more than two years passed before I published my second interview with Miša, on the occasion of his departure from Publicis Group and creation of his own company, New Startegy. It is now two years since then and the time has come to talk about New Startegy’s first two years and first major results.
As with the previous two interviews, this one will be published in three parts. There are always too many things happening between our conversations to fit into a single conversation. Abridging the interview just to fit the form would be a real shame and a big mistake, because Miša always has so many new and interesting things to say.
Every room in the New Startegy office has a name that starts with NEW. There’s an impressive conference room with a huge video wall they use for presentations, workshops, and conference video calls. They have named it the New World. Their brainstorming oasis is called New London. The café, which has excellent coffee and great music, is called New Amsterdam. Every office also has the name of the person it belongs to written across its glass door with the prefix New as a reminder that there’s no resting on our laurels and that we have to be new and improved versions of ourselves every day, if we want to succeed again. So, it follows that this is a conversation with New Miša…
Media Marketing: What has been happening in your business over the two years since you left the Publicis Group and founded New Startegy, a company that offers consultancy services in the field of business design?
Miša Lukić: It was an enormous challenge to start over after 18 years with the Publicis Group, where I was CEO in 30 countries overseeing several thousand people by the end of my time there. During our first two years, a lot has happened, but it can all be sorted into three phases. We still see ourselves as a NEW START-UP in the field of business design and our progress in New Startegy can be tracked through three symbolic phases: the NEW phase, the START phase, and the UP phase.
- NEW Phase
For the first six months we were mainly concerned with technical matters related to starting the company, buying the new equipment and software we needed. A lot of time was invested in doing up the new offices. We created the workspace of our dreams, with help from Nitea Office and A3 architecture studio on the interior design and furnishings. The result is that we enjoy every day we spend in our new home as intensely as if it were the first. Thanks to our inspirationally decorated offices, they’ve been calling us the “Serbian Google.” I also travelled a lot during the period and had a long vacation, during which I rested and recharged after the very intense work I had been doing before, as part of a large corporation.
- START phase
Over the following nine months, we started creating the company but also creating a new business discipline in the region. According to the start-up dictionary, this could be called the Proof of Concept phase. Our key focus was on finalising our unique business model, called Business Sapiens. We also spent this time creating a new methodology for systematic innovation generation, called the WOW Generator. It yields a much higher success rate and shortens the time it takes to come up with innovative business solutions. We spent a lot of time working intensively with a large number of top experts from the academic and business world, who we shared our methodology with and from whom we got more than favourable feedback. We started testing our new methodology on highly inspirational projects of a global nature. In terms of company development, the key events in this phase were establishing an office in Singapore and working on excellent global projects for Singapore Airlines in collaboration with Microsoft. Most of this work was done by a team consisting of me and my partner Dejan Bojović Bojke, as well as Dragana Lukić and Sonja Dragojević, and a few other close associates and partners, including Rade Joksimović, who played an especially important role in developing the Singapore market and new start-up projects during this phase. He was key in the Tech You There project, which we worked on together with Israeli partners.
- UP phase
The following ten months, or rather from July last year until now, our focus has been on achieving traction, as it’s called in the start-up vocabulary. It means confirming, in a financially measurable way, that there are clients who want our services and that they are willing to pay a certain price for them. Given that the New Startegy team is located in Serbia, we decided to start this phase by offering consultancy services in the field of business design on the local and regional markets. This was a bit of a departure from our initial strategy, which planned an exclusive focus on foreign markets, but, as our main team is located in Belgrade and we are more familiar with the local market, we decided it would be more effective and profitable to test our business model locally. On the other hand, because it is a less developed market where business innovation budgets are almost non-existent, it actually proved to be the harder path. All in all, this was our “moment of truth” and it was supposed to prove our hypotheses of a current need for this new discipline and that we can deliver on the promises we’ve made. Even if the local market does not recognise the full potential of business design, in just nine months we’ve been able to complete and, by local standards, charge appropriately for nine projects and confirm that business design has a bright business future, even on less developed markets like our own. This was in fact the Proof of Value phase and we have completed it successfully.
Near the end of this phase, the pandemic happened, so now we have to wait and see how it will affect our future development and growth. First signs suggest the market is reacting well, after the initial psychological shock, and that the situation will only increase demand for business design, which was created for challenging and uncertain times like these. I am very aware that you can’t solve really complex business problems by thinking at the same level as they emerge in and I believe that business design will soon experience a renaissance.
So, I am very optimistic and believe New Startegy will continue its rapid growth over the next two years, especially once we add the Business Sapiens Academy to our consulting services.
Media Marketing: How have you been sourcing projects, given that you decided to test the effectiveness of business design on a local market that is not yet ready for major investment in innovation and business design, as you’ve said yourself?
Miša Lukić: To be honest, in the beginning we got projects because of our reputations and previous results, banking on what I like to call our “reputation from a previous life.” It was less based on faith in business design as a new discipline, which is completely natural and to be expected in this phase of market development.
On the other hand it was encouraging that every product we have worked on so far has had stellar reactions from clients and achieved positive results, but, more importantly, they’ve contributed to and popularised business design as a discipline and the Business Sapiens model as a unique methodology that offers itself as the perfect answer to many of the complex questions in the modern business world.
It comes as a great satisfaction to us that there are more and more believers in business design in Serbia. This is why I sincerely hope this new discipline will soon be accepted as the most effective way of tackling highly complex business problems and of finding new chances and opportunities that can kickstart exponential growth, whether for a start-up, a small and medium-sized entreprise, or a big corporation.
Media Marketing: What projects and markets have you worked on so far?
Miša Lukić: To begin with, during the so-called Proof of Concept phase, we mostly worked on global start-up ideas and digital applications like Ad:vantage, CAELUM, Tech You There…
Advantage is a project we worked on for the Swiss company BluVela. It’s an application that uses a revolutionary business model which allows for direct communication and a relationship between brands and consumers, cutting out the media as the middleman. Instead of brands spending 600 billion euro a year to advertise over traditional and digital channels, the Ad:vantage application can channel that money directly towards consumers in the form of a new cryptocurrency. Every time someone, the recipient of the message, looks at a branded piece of writing or video content in a category they are personally interested in, they get a sum of money that would traditionally have gone to the media. Using that sum you can buy products through the application.
CAELUM is also a revolutionary global platform that breaks with current standards in the aviation industry. It is a change to the business class experience, drawing on the “private jet” experience, and has been created using top-of-the-line software and block chain technology.
Tech You There is a platform developed with Israeli partners whose goal was to use top-notch technology (tech) and a combination of integrated software that has never been used before to let us virtually visit anywhere we want, including museums, galleries, sporting events, natural beauty spots… all using the newest generation of VR technology. Unfortunately, this project, which we started over a year ago, has not seen the light of day, because of capacity and funding. The competition caught up with us and we are now witnessing the proliferation of virtual museum visits all around the world.
For the last nine months, our focus has been on Proof of Value. We have been testing the market’s willingness to pay for business design services, even without previous experience in the field and the fact that investment budgets are very small or completely non-existent.
So far we have mainly been working with clients in particular business areas, like designing an innovative culture in an organisation, brand design, creating new income streams, pitching new products, loyalty programmes, strategy, or setting up new business models.
The clients who have broken the ice when it comes to business design have tended to be highly successful companies that want to keep on being successful. Local companies using business design and innovation as an important driver of success include Dijamant, Strauss Coffee, Fashion & Co, Tehnomanija, Mivela, e-Front, Direct Media, Karanović & partners and Cafe & Factory. To my great satisfaction, we’ve continued working with almost all of them and I am grateful to them all for giving us a chance. As for their satisfaction levels, the best testimonial are their own words, which we have proudly placed on the homepage of our website (www.newstartegy.com).
Media Marketing: Who are your ideal clients in the local and regional markets?
Miša Lukić: Our ideal clients are companies really motivated to change and transform. That can be because their industries are already under great pressure, but above all else it’s because they have informed leaders who understand that the biggest risk is continuing to work with outdated models. Our ideal clients look at problems as new chances, as new business opportunities. They are clients who are ready to learn and to develop, clients we can learn a lot from as well. Clients who don’t need your classic business know-how, they need know-wow. Clients who don’t need consultants to tell them things about their business they already know it. No, we want clients who need partners who will show them new perspectives and provide them with new business solutions.
Clients who aren’t looking for financial experts to help them cut costs or optimise their processes. We want clients who want partners who will help them to increase their effectiveness and exponentially multiply earnings. Clients who aren’t looking for a consultant to sell them innovative ideas continuously but partners to help make sure the company can innovate in future, which includes support creating an innovative corporate culture. Clients who understand digitalisation is not the same as digital transformation and that just because they’ve started to invest in digital marketing and have brought in, say, online shopping, doesn’t mean they have digitally transformed as a company.
Clients who believe it’s better to invest in creating a business worth communicating than investing in communication for a business with no prospects. Clients ready to invest in innovation, even if lack of new funds means transferring some of their marketing budget (storytelling) to business design (storydoing).
Our ideal clients should already have the inner potential to become true Business Sapiens companies under the guidance of their leaders. They are companies whose customers, employees, suppliers, and owners are successful and happy. And finally, but no less important, our ideal clients are ones we can have long-term partnership with, based on shared values, beliefs, and market behaviour.
Media Marketing: You are constantly expanding your team, which means your business is also expanding. Who are your key associates? Where do they come from? What partners do you collaborate with? Who makes up the ecosystem you have developed?
Miša Lukić: The New Strategy concept means we have a relatively small team of top business designers and a developed ecosystem of associates. That ecosystem is made up of individual experts and partner organisations specialised in various fields across the world, chiefly the field of advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and robotics, block chain, software and application development, digital communications, financial management, industrial design, architecture, and spatial planning… They include: Foresight Group Sweden, Microsoft Singapore, Insomnia Hungary, Barrett Value Centre UK, iPEC USA, Samuel Associates Canada, PWC Srbija.
During the first phase of development we spent more time developing the ecosystem than we did hiring new people, but with the beginning of the second phase we significantly increased our numbers, including in the core team. I am especially happy that we have been joined by top strategists and creatives from the world of marketing, Jelena Uzelac Vasić, Đorđe Janković and Tatjana Milnović. We were also lucky to be joined by top professionals during a key period, professionals like Rade Joksimović, one of the most promising people in our start-up community, and Marko Kovačević, one of the most successful leaders of the younger generation. They were both part of the core team when we needed them most, and now, because of obligations at their own companies, they support us as part of our partner ecosystem.
New Startegy Core Team: Dragana Lukić, Sonja Dragojević , Jelena Uzelac Vasić, Đorđe Janković i Tatjana Milnović
As leader of the New Strategy team, I am entitled to boast about how I’ve brought on board all the “stars” I wanted. The same could be said about the partner companies that work with us in our wider activities. Of course, as we grow, our team and the whole ecosystem will continue to grow, but we will be very selective in our choices.
When it comes to the core team, we have chosen people who can be characterised as creative strategists or strategic creatives. We are also interested in business consultants who don’t find work in consulting companies creative enough for them, creatives with technical knowledge and a sense for business who have demonstrated it in some way already.
When it comes to the companies we work with within the framework of the New Strategy platform, it’s important we work with top professionals from fields that compliment what we do who can help us meet our clients’ needs taking projects from concept to realisation.
Miša Lukić (2): Business Design is the most effective and innovative way of tackling highly complex business problems.