Collaborating with Agencies is Product Management

Jon Arnold, Senior Product Manager at Bridgestone, shares how he’s utilizing agencies to transform his company’s digital retail experience.

Agencies can be valuable partners for product teams with limited time and attention. When utilized properly, agencies can bring important skills and expertise to a project. However, managing them and collaborating with them is quite different than solely working with people internally.

This week’s guest, Jon Arnold, is a Senior Product Manager at Bridgestone, a Fortune 500 auto parts company, where he’s working to transform the digital retail experience. He manages five or six agencies at a time to help with everything from software development and user experience design to content and analytics.

When evaluating agencies during a pitch process, Jon recommends creating a scorecard to compare each agency, but says that “quick and cheap” isn’t the most important factor. He recommends considering the agency’s culture, communication, and problem solving ability.

Jon considers the agencies that he works with to be an extension of his team. He truly gives them “agency.” They represent Bridgestone and work on the company’s behalf, Jon says.

Jon says that he’s worked to improve his ability to “trust and release.” He’s comfortable with work coming back differently than he had initially expected, as long as it’s helping accomplish its goals.

According to Jon, the three most important factors for are for a successful working relationship with an agency are:

  • Clear direction
  • Consistent gratitude
  • Candid feedback

You’ll learn a lot from this episode about communication, collaboration, and team building.

Here are the highlights:

  • How Jon is utilizing agencies to transform the digital retail experience at Bridgestone (4:04)
  • Jon’s approach to managing 5+ agencies at once (7:05)
  • How Jon handles situations where he needs to improve his working relationship with an agency (11:35)
  • Jon explains how he facilitates collaboration between the agencies that he works with (14:32)
  • Jon describes how to evaluate agencies during the pitch and proposal process (18:41)

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