How FAST-thinking will make your business more adaptive

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Adaptability is the key quality leaders need to grow their businesses. I work in digital advertising, which is driven by technology and is therefore subject to the law of accelerating returns — growth, built upon progress from previous generations, is inevitably exponential. Marketers have had to adapt with new skill sets to sustain a competitive advantage in such a fast-moving industry. With the advent of Big Data, platforms like Google and Bing introducing more and more machine learning and AI pushing the boundaries of what is humanly possible, digital advertising is going through exponential growth.

Digital technology has not only boosted our ability to do what traditional marketers have always done, but it has also changed a lot about the way we operate thanks to the depth and speed of data collection and the automation of media-buying. And there are undoubtedly many more large-scale changes to come. In the meantime, we also have to keep up with changes on a micro level: Google Ads, for example, changes every month with improved targeting methods, updated bidding options, algorithm changes and new ways of reporting. Staying on top of these changes requires extreme adaptability.

Digital advertisers must be specialists at extracting value from data and using automation to enhance capability. This means knowing when to adopt new technology and how to zone in on all the places where automation can be applied. This is a skill that business leaders in all industries need to develop going forward, for themselves and their staff.

The key thing is to encourage a right frame of mind that enables everyone to see where processes can be improved by keeping an eye out for ways to automate menial tasks, and sharing solutions with others. At Brainlabs, we do this by training everyone in FAST-thinking, which stands for stands for Formalise, Automate, Share, and Test.

Formalising a process means converting it from something you do to something you use, making you express the method needed to move from point A to point B. It’s about proactivity in preparing processes that can be re-applied in future scenarios, anticipating problems to keep performance up.

Automating is about heightening efficiency on an individual and company-wide level. Spending less time on easy, repetitive tasks means you can spend more energy on more interesting things. Brainlabs has built a tech stack designed to save employee time to focus on value-add tasks, such as strategy and planning.

But what’s the value of process improvements if we only keep them to ourselves? Sharing should transcend the team, department, and even company. For example, I’ve enjoyed sharing open-source Google Ads scripts with the paid-search community for a few years now. When a single process becomes scalable, real value comes into play. Rather than let others waste time with the same issues, or have to teach and re-explain the same thing, sharing is when real value comes into play. Moreover, allowing staff members to contribute process improvements reinforces their importance in the company as a whole. Good leadership doesn't have to come from one place.

But sharing isn’t the final step — we now come to testing. This is about challenging all of the above and continuously re-thinking, updating, re-writing. Adaptability is not just for us, but also for the processes we put into place. With regular re-evaluation, we can make sure that they are always at optimum efficiency.

FAST-thinking applies to everything from our recruitment process to client work, automating routine emails and Excel tasks. A good example is our Google Ads to Bing tool, that applies changes made in a Google Ads account to a Bing account, ensuring both are up to date and saving lots of time which would otherwise be spent making the same updates in both accounts. The mentality of FAST is ingrained in all Brainlabbers from the get-go, so finding process improvements is a natural part of the job. As a result, our tech reduces manual tasks by 37% and saves 11 hours per week for strategy and analysis. It's a win-win situation for everyone.

Companies don’t last as long as they used to, and the survival rate has been steadily decreasing. Almost 50% of UK startups fail to live more than five years. Adaptability should be at the forefront of every business leader’s mind — it’s not optional anymore. In my opinion, that means fostering a culture to one that identifies opportunities for implementing FAST-thinking wherever possible. If you’re struggling to adapt, I recommend you give the FAST approach a shot. You won't regret it.


We drive remarkable results for our clients in paid search, programmatic, and paid social. Powered by data and automation, we're the official world champions of PPC. We also provide PPC technology and strategy consultancy for in-house teams, automating every imaginable manual task so that they can excel at the fun stuff.