Liechtenecker is dead, long live Liechtenecker

Today is a big day! At work we launched our new Liechtenecker website. But it is much more than just a redesign. It is showing our transformation from a classic digital agency to our new Liechtenecker Lab. Let me tell you all about that from my point of view.

Agency is not just a word

For many years now we have called our company a digital agency. It was written on a big banner on our website and when I picked up the phone I would say “Agency Liechtenecker hello…”. It was a phrase that our customers know about and it best described what we do: Everything!

We did Facebook apps, static websites, websites built from different CMS systems, blogs, apps, games, screen design, print designs, Power Point presentations, workshops, social media postings, middlewares, APIs, consultancy, small project, big projects, even bigger projects and so on.

Really everything you could think of. But this wasn’t just us. Every agency was like that and this is how it worked. Of course you start focusing on type of projects, but in the end it is a business of doing what you get offered.

So agency isn’t just a word anymore in our business. It is synonym for certain kind of business model and it comes with constraints.

You are a supplier

Simon says, you do. There is nearly no space for creativity, strategy or innovation. Most of the budgets is used for advertising and marketing. What is left for the whole digital world is just a fraction of the pot. This is why there is no time and money for being creative. What we do should work and has to be accomplished fast.

This leads to you being a tiny supplier. Of course delivering is part of every business, but being a supplier is different. This is someone who is following orders without questioning them. Someone who is doing a job but not solving the problem.

The day I wanted to quit

I am a developer at Liechtenecker. When I started I wasn’t that experienced. This is the good thing about an agency. You will need to learn fast! We were never one of those agencies working 60 hour weeks, but we did and do work hard. You need to take on responsibility early and to work self-contained. You need to be able to adapt to different projects, technologies and tools. Thereby I improved my skills rapidly.

The negative aspect of an agency is that everything is about new stuff and only a small part of the projects are going to be maintained. Everybody is talking about A/B testing and phase #2 and #3, but those things never come. Nobody is paying your for writing clean code. Nobody is interested in architecture or automatic tests . This is when you get stuck. You want to evolve as a developer but it is not possible anymore. At least not how I wanted it. That day I realised that I needed a new job.

A team decision

Gladly we do talk a lot in our company. About positive stuff as well as about negative one. It turned out it wasn’t just me. The others were unhappy too and especially Juergen, our boss, felt the same way. Over ten years now he is keeping this business together because he always loved what he did. This changed at the beginning of 2015 and he knew there had to be something new. We all spend a lot of time at work and this is why we want to do there what we love. Pretty obvious right?

We all sat together and thought about the problems. We wrote a list of things we didn’t want anymore and list things we were missing. This was one of the key moments because we realised we all were striving for the same things: business partners instead of clients, being innovate, being creative, building products, respect, challenges, shaping the digital future, learn new technologies.

Of course these aren’t totally new things, but they are more difficult to find than you might think. Now that we knew we had the same goals, we were able to start the journey in the same direction. The journey is the reward.

One word, big chance

Today we launched our new website and we are saying good bye to the Liechtenecker agency and hello to the Liechtenecker Lab. Can switching one word really make a difference? Of course it can but obviously it isn’t just about the word. It is an attitude and promise to ourselves to start something new. A business where we can work on projects that really make a difference and with people who deeply appreciate our partnership. Because we do too!

Another important step for us was to stop doing everything. We are experts and we all have our strengths. Let’s use them. This is also something Juergen did from the very beginning. He helped us to evolve our personal skills and now they are part of our business. Of course we will always need to be flexible and able to adopt to new projects and technologies, but you need the focus to stand out. We are now focusing on interface design, user experience, digital future strategies for our partners, IoT and the Liechtenecker products we build on our own.

Clearly this is just our adventure. There are a lot of great companies out there, that don’t need to find a new way because they are happy where they are. I am totally fine with that and as I mentioned here everything is about scope. What is working for us doesn’t work for everyone else. But this is my blog and this is why it is about Liechtenecker and me today. This is our story.

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