Ag_Inov_Logo_TMCase Study

A growing number of Cornwall’s most successful small to medium sized enterprises are turning to Agile Innovation to support their ongoing business development. Based on the principles of a globally recognised methodology, Agile Innovation is delivered by the UK’s leading business coaching specialist Oxford Innovation under its Coaching for High Growth programme, supported by ERDF (European Regional Development Fund).

Truro-based creative agency MPAD, which last year recorded 10 percent growth in turnover, is one of the businesses to have embarked on the programme and was one of the first in Cornwall to do so from outside of the software sector where Agile has its origins.

Established in 1999, MPAD relaunched earlier this year with a focus towards working with ethical and socially responsible brands and organisations throughout the UK providing public relations, design and digital content management. The firm now employs six people, led by managing director Rachel Picken and her husband Mark, MPAD’s creative director.

Rachel explained why her business has adopted Agile Innovation: “In our first few years of trading MPAD was consistently achieving a healthy rate of growth. Then in 2008 we, like almost every other agency in our sector, were hit hard by the global economic downturn as clients tightened their belts and drastically cut their spending on consultancy work. It was an extremely difficult time but we kept the business alive by focusing on what we knew and did best which was providing our remaining clients with great quality creative work.”

As the economic recovery got underway, Rachel and Mark wanted to secure the long-term future of the business to guard against any future downturn. “We’d traded our way through the recession so we set out to trade our way to sustainable growth,” said Rachel.

“Mark and I were already both receiving one-to-one business coaching from Oxford Innovation,” said Rachel. “It was at this stage that we were introduced to the concept of Agile through the Agile Innovation programme and it quickly became apparent how beneficial this could be to our business.”

Rachel developed her knowledge of Agile while studying for her Diploma with the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (PR). “Planning is as important in PR as it is in any other profession but with the changing nature of events, practitioners need to show agility. At the heart of Agile is the theory of ‘responding to change over following a plan.’ I was really enlightened by this innovative approach to PR planning as it reminded me of how we worked in the early years of the business when growth was strong. It provides an environment that encourages continuous learning and improvement and it is something we now share with clients who are equally impressed.”

Agile Innovation has not only influenced what MPAD delivers to clients but also how Rachel and Mark run their own business.

“Agile provides important business development tools that can be adapted to suit and applied at all levels of the organisation,” said Rachel. “For example, I encourage the whole team to use an Agile board to visually track our effectiveness in converting enquiries into new business. We’ve also benefited greatly from the Agile concept of ‘customer collaboration over contract negotiation.’ We aim to initiate a bite-size piece of work at the start of the consultancy, such as a workshop or a collaborative strategy session. It has enabled us to align even more closely with prospective clients, laying the foundations for mutually beneficial, long-term relationships.”

Oxford Innovation business coach Belinda Waldock leads on Agile Innovation and she is delighted with how it is benefitting MPAD, commenting: “The creative sector is one of the most competitive and dynamic in the economy so Agile is a perfect complement. Rachel, Mark and their team have fully embraced the tools and principles and I am confident that having done so, their business is well set for further growth and job creation.

“MPAD’s successful adoption of the methodology for PR breaks new ground in the Agile community and sets Rachel apart as a thought leader in her sector. This September, Rachel will speak about her experience at Agile on the Beach 2014 in Falmouth where she will be joined by a host of other expert practitioners.”

Watch Rachels session at Agile on the Beach

or watch a short interview with Rachel on her adoption of agile : click link below

mpadnewTo find out more about MPAD, please visit