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Episode 2: Creativity in Change Management


In this episode, host Chris Thornton interviews Creative Director Kate MacPherson. Kate is an award-winning Creative Director with over 13 years of experience in the creative industry and consulting combined. Kate blends her wide experience at Daggerwing, bringing creative planning, strategy and execution to the group. She and Chris discuss her own journey with change and how her transition from an advertising background has influenced her current role in change management. Importantly, Kate introduces the concept of “design thinking” and why this idea can help leaders initiate change and create an energy for their employees to move towards a goal.


This transcript was automatically generated with artificial intelligence. It’s in the queue to go through a review with human eyes!

00;00;00;00 – 00;00;35;05

Hello and welcome to Change@Work, a podcast about the ever evolving world of work and the human behaviors that drive it. I’m Chris Thornton, principal here at Daggerwing Group. We’re consultants who take a slightly different approach to change and how we work with our clients. We’ll explore some of the things we’ve learned, what to do, what not to do, who we are as a team and as individuals.

00;00;35;08 – 00;01;12;15

Joining me today is Kate MacPherson. Kate Waite, Let’s slow down. Is it? Am I saying it correctly? Is that MacPherson? Yes, MacPherson. MacPherson. And my person, our producer, Lauren, was just shocked. Lauren Southern, our producer, shocked that that is how you pronounce Kate’s name. So let’s get it right. Kate MacPherson. Yes. Now, the back story of this is it’s a Scottish last name, and I think properly you could either go the MacPherson route, which is the other derivative or the MacPherson route.

00;01;12;15 – 00;01;33;04

And I think it’s family by family. They distinguish how they want to pronounce their name and but there’s not a lot of MacPherson’s. I feel like there’s many more McPherson’s out in the world, but we all come from the same place I found out. I hope I’m not totally lying there, but I’m pretty sure it feels true. So we’re going to stick with it.

00;01;33;04 – 00;01;55;18

It feels exactly right. All right. So, Kate, you are our creative director here at Tiger Wing. I am. I am. And you’re a principal here. How long have you been here? Six years as of May. Yeah. Yeah. So just over six years, Which is crazy. It doesn’t feel like that long. No, but yes, at the same time, because I’ve been here for seven, so I kind of feel that’s okay.

00;01;55;18 – 00;02;11;14

Do you feel the same? The same way you got It feels like no time at all. But also when you start to think about all that we’ve done. Yeah, well, it takes time to get that done. Totally. Totally. There has been a lot of things that have passed the time away about six years. Kate, What did you do before this?

00;02;11;14 – 00;02;39;17

Well, I worked here. I worked at an advertising agency called Ogilvy and Mather, and I was also there for I think it was about six and a half years. I was I was at Ogilvy and I worked in a variety of areas, but my specialty areas were experiential marketing, shopper marketing. I did do a bit of advertising work when I was there, and before that I worked in promotions marketing.

00;02;39;19 – 00;02;56;13

Wow. Exciting. What does that mean? Promotions, Marketing. So I have an image of the guy, the people out on the sidewalk spinning one of those arrows. Totally. I mean, the way that feels promotions getting to me, that’s definitely promotions marketing. It’s not the kind of marketing I worked on. I mean, it’s funny, I like a good example of promotions.

00;02;56;13 – 00;03;29;22

Marketing would have been like, Hey, the Mars candy brands are running promotions for back to school. So we would like ideate the contests, you know, whether it was like, hey, we’re going to like put all the packages of like the Snickers and gosh, I’m trying to think of Mars Candy. But but yeah, So we would essentially work with specific brands and figure out ways to sort of like pulse out, you know, different promotions during the year so that people would there’d be an uptick in marketing and they pick it up and buy those products and love it.

00;03;29;27 – 00;03;47;10

Yeah. On this change It Work podcast, one of the things we try to emphasize is our humanity. Who we are is people that we aren’t change robots. You have to pass the test to make sure that you’re not a change robot. boy, can I pass the test. I know you can. I know. I’m not sure. I’m not sure.

00;03;47;10 – 00;04;09;12

I mean, it’s like kind of still early in the morning. I’m still drinking my coffee. All right. Might still be a robot. I feel like you can do it. Okay, Question for you. What’s one thing that can instantly make your day better? You just got a smile on your face. I let out a really nice sigh, waking up, and it’s like a beautiful day.

00;04;09;18 – 00;04;29;29

Yeah. And I. And it’s the weekend. There’s some days during the week where it doesn’t matter how pretty it is, it’s your day is not instantly made better. Well, and I was also thinking, you know, it’s kind of a bummer when you have to go to work and be inside when it’s a beautiful day because all you want to do is and be, you know, enjoy the day.

00;04;29;29 – 00;04;54;22

And I’m like looking outside right now and it’s not a nice day out. But yeah, I just I like good days when it’s the weekend, you can go out and enjoy it. I’m glad you’re here. Thank you. Another question for you. We asked it last time with Michelle. Let’s ask it this time. What was your favorite age? For me, the reason 20 really popped into my mind was I traveled a lot when I was 20 and it was kind of the best time for me.

00;04;54;22 – 00;05;23;21

And I traveled, like alone and with other people. And and it was so much fun. So 20. Where’d you go? So it was right before I was graduating college. So I was trying to take advantage of the fact that I knew travel might not be in my immediate future. So I did a lot like when I traveled abroad in one of and when I was 20, I actually I was in, you know, Florence, Italy, studying for three months.

00;05;23;21 – 00;05;47;15

Then I, you know, London and, where else would I go? I almost had Australia. I did not go to Australia. I want to go to Australia, Switzerland and France, you know, all those places, Ireland. And then when I was stateside again I ended up going cross-country. Yeah. Yeah. So by car. By a by car? Yeah, totally by car.

00;05;47;15 – 00;06;10;15

So yeah, that was like a big trip I drove from not to well, I guess it’s still cross-country from Atlanta to California. That’s that’s cross-country. Yeah. Right. Absolutely. Yeah. Is there one memory that you can still hold on to knowing you’re not that far away from 20, but it also wasn’t yesterday, so. Yeah. So is there one thing you can remember from that trip that stands out?

00;06;10;17 – 00;06;31;15

I mean, for me it was this feeling of like I first of all, I’m an adult. Like I made this decision on my own. I don’t think my parents were like totally opposed to it. They were very, like, supportive in terms of my like, independence. But I felt like really independent, Like I made these choices to go travel to these places all by myself.

00;06;31;15 – 00;06;57;13

And no one was there. Sort of like telling me otherwise. It was all my choice. So for me, that was like a big thing, like sticks out. Like one more question to prove you’re human, I feel, especially with this 20 year old self in mind, feel like you’ve passed the test. Let’s just confirm it. If you had unlimited money to start a business, to do anything that you wanted, what would you do?

00;06;57;15 – 00;07;23;20

Okay, so I, I again, I say I’m like a creative at heart. I love design. I am inspired by all sorts of design. But for me, one of my passion areas I like as a hobby is is interior design. I kind of I’m obsessed. I you know, my Instagram is filled with following all of these influencers who do all sorts of great interior design.

00;07;23;22 – 00;07;47;10

So my if I had unlimited amounts of money, I would do two things. One, I would create a brand that like a textile brand and does this. And so that’s connected to more interior design stuff. It wouldn’t be textiles for clothing, but my second second, like career I guess, or business I would open would be around interior design.

00;07;47;12 – 00;08;05;07

And I have ideas for that. But I’m not letting you all know because it’s secret stuff. I’m going to do it one day. All right? When you do it, when you do it, and you have your own textile line and your own interior design business, whatever amazing thing that you’re creating, you have to come back. I do this best.

00;08;05;09 – 00;08;38;03

I will. Totally. Yeah. And you can totally discount code guided by Get ready for your discount code. We’ve got quip toothbrushes. We’ve got Kate McPherson interior design. That’s very exciting. All right, Kate, you passed your human cool. God. Let’s get into the good stuff. Sounds good. Let’s go. So, Kate, what is the 3% movement? So the 3% movement was founded, I would say, about eight years ago by woman Cat Gordon.

00;08;38;06 – 00;09;02;05

And what she realized was that industry wide within the creative industry, only 3% of women were creative directors or in creative leadership. So she set out to change that. And so here we are, I’m going to say eight years. I’m not sure exactly the date, but she does like a big conference every year gathering both women. And also it’s become a diversity and inclusion great conference.

00;09;02;12 – 00;09;24;29

But she also does like they have all sorts of diagnostic tools and their whole aim is to create more diversity in the creative workplace and the industry itself. So I’ve just got back, I mean, totally behind it. I understand why there’s not a lot of creative leadership from a female perspective in that industry. Might be kind of why unconsciously I left the industry.

00;09;24;29 – 00;09;54;13

Yeah, yeah, quite frankly. But yeah, she’s, she’s pretty awesome. And I go to the conference, I try to go to the conference every year and I follow there articles and yeah, kind of stuff. So coming from CPG consumer packaged goods background to here is a Daggerwing. Yes. What’s, what’s the difference. So it’s funny, I was just like I was thinking about this recently and I was actually thinking of the not difference.

00;09;54;13 – 00;10;23;29

So I think a lot of people who know me and work with me might not have even made this connection since I have just recently made the connection. But I come from an advertising background. So I studied advertising in college and, you know, I did all sorts of things in my sort of advertising marketing career. But I think that the common thread which just popped in my head is this idea of, you know, it’s psychologically driven and it’s behavior driven.

00;10;24;01 – 00;10;57;06

And so I spent my career in advertising trying to use insights in consumer behavior to then create ideas to put out to the world to help inform their decision making and change their decision making, in some cases, to engage with a brand and products they might not consider. So jumping from in to change management, I think at the time for me seemed so divergent and interesting and different because it really dealt with the psychology in an organization.

00;10;57;11 – 00;11;17;21

I think those are like kind of the common denominators. And I think the biggest change for me is coming from the creative industry, where there were many of me, there were a lot of creatives in my group, there were a lot of creatives in the company that I worked for previously, and they were all, you know, were art directors and copywriters and designers.

00;11;17;24 – 00;11;39;13

And when I came to Daggerwing, there, there were none of me or very little of me. So for me that was a huge change in terms of working alongside people who kind of were like who are like, Who are you and what do you do? You know, I was questioning like, well, and I think so I was here when you joined.

00;11;39;13 – 00;12;03;17

And I one of the things that I know we were challenged with was viewing creative as design. Or and there’s value here. So I’m not demeaning the work of can you make this PowerPoint look client ready? Can you make it pretty? Could you make it look professional? Could you make a jean in there? That is a specialty.

00;12;03;17 – 00;12;45;19

And we have people on our team who do that and are phenomenal at it. Yeah, you worked very hard to say. That’s not really what I want you. Yeah, Yeah. And that’s not what you want to be great at. So what are you? Great. That case. So while backing up as I can, I think it’s an interest, an interesting and good distinguishing characteristic of where like who I am in terms of my career, I’ve always been sort of an artist by trade, growing, growing up and sort of into college in my early twenties and based on sort of my passion around the arts and creativity, I decided I wanted to go into advertising and graphic

00;12;45;19 – 00;13;07;18

design. So I do have sort of a background where I’ve studied both the graphic arts and also the advertising aspect, which is more of the psychology. And where I ended up was being very passionate about wanting to be an art director, which the path from art director, you know, up is to become ultimately like a creative director or creative head of a group.

00;13;07;20 – 00;13;28;02

And the biggest difference there between I think when I came to the Daggerwing and sort of into the business here, people thought, creative, you make, you know, things look really nice and pretty. They thought, you know, you’re a designer and sort of like associated me with design. And in fact, in my career I’ve actually never been a designer.

00;13;28;02 – 00;13;55;02

That’s never been my job description or my title ever. I’ve always been an art director. So that’s me imagining up ideas and coming up with conceptual thoughts around, you know, how to solve a business problem and and then figuring out how does the copy need to come together, how do the images need to come together, and how do we create sort of this package that we can then deliver in whatever form that we want it to?

00;13;55;02 – 00;14;14;10

And that, again, as part of, has always been part of my job description, which is, you know, imagine the method to like what channel, what, what, what is this piece? What is it going to become? Is it going to be a video? Is is it going to be a poster on a wall? Is it going to be, you know, a story as a kind of be, you know, something else?

00;14;14;10 – 00;14;36;09

So for me, that’s like the biggest thing between making something pretty and coming up with an idea in your head and then being able to execute that idea in just a bigger way or bringing different pieces together. Designers is at the center of all of that. But, but it’s different than what a designer does. Definitely work together. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense.

00;14;36;09 – 00;14;57;21

It doesn’t make sense because I wouldn’t come to you to say, Can you make this? And let’s use a PowerPoint example. There are people on our team who are great at that. Totally. Like, I would come to you to say, Hey, we need an experience for employees that completely engages them. There needs to be a theme that we’re working towards.

00;14;57;21 – 00;15;19;13

It needs to be connected to the business strategy. Here is the business strategy. Here’s their employee engagement approach. Here’s what they have to accomplish. Yeah, how do we make this meaningful, memorable, something that isn’t a once and done something that we carry through and we sustain it? That’s what I would come to you to help, to say, How do we solve this together?

00;15;19;13 – 00;15;53;08

Exactly. Exactly. And when I when I first joined the company, I feel like the team was leveraging me in a great way to I mean, I can make things look pretty angry. And I think that there’s definitely a strategy behind that in itself when you’re able to make something very pleasing, it becomes an enjoyable experience. I mean, we all live in the world and when we see things that are pleasing to the eye, you then correlated to good things or exciting things or whatever, and there’s an emotional response to that.

00;15;53;08 – 00;16;17;24

So I think like I feel like I spent the first year sort of digging into almost strategy on, you know, how do I make these presentations and sort of these deliverables that are sort of like maybe not super exciting, a little bit dry. How do we just like, improve them? How do we do that through cutting out words in, you know, editing the words down, editing the story, you know, flipping pages around.

00;16;17;24 – 00;16;41;13

It’s all about like, how do you produce something that’s just a kind of a higher quality and pretty at the end of the day. So I spent a lot of time kind of focused on that aspect. So it felt like I got really good at that. By the way, just as a side note, I had never used PowerPoint before coming into the consulting business, which is interesting.

00;16;41;13 – 00;22;41;27

And so I taught my I had to teach myself PowerPoint. So.

More in the Series

Chris Thornton is a Senior Principal and member of the global leadership team at Daggerwing Group. In his role, Chris serves as a source of strategic counsel for Senior Executives with client firms, advising them on how to help clients achieve Executive alignment, transform their cultures and equip and enable people managers to lead and embed change. An expert in the people side of change with both client-side and consulting experience, Chris has worked with leading companies including Nestlé, Pfizer, and GE Aviation to do change right and make it stick. He is also an active speaker on business transformation, a driver of innovation in Daggerwing’s breadth of change consulting services, and the host of Daggerwing Group’s podcast, Change@Work. Chris and his wife were featured in the New York Times for their love of pie.
Kate is a Principal, Global Creative Director at Daggerwing Group. She has over 13 years of award-winning experience in the creative industry and consulting combined. Kate blends her wide experience at Daggerwing, bringing creative planning, strategy, and execution to the group. She is passionate about delivering positive results through effective and breakthrough branding work in the space of internal communications and employee experience. She loves a good business challenge and working with teams to crack culture, branding, and transformation challenges. Kate is an interior design ‘junkie’ and is the proud mom of one son and two stepdaughters.