Dr John Curran 'The Client/Agency relationship: a cultural space that requires decoding'

CEO / JC&Associates


The client/agency relationship needs to be understood as a cultural and political space; a space where there are many subtle performances and tensions that can either propel or hamper how agencies deliver their work and value. I will make the claim that agencies need to adopt an 'anthropological mindset’ and reflective approach when entering and developing their relationships with clients. I will explore how agencies can reframe key areas of the project journey in order to  plan and manage projects that take into account the subtle and often unconscious cultural barriers that can work as blockages to delivering value. The value for agencies will be that their insights and solutions land with their clients while at the same time nurturing their relationship.

About John

As one of the pioneers of business anthropology John specialises in making organisations highly productive and people centric in order to achieve growth. He does this by understanding how culture shapes the ways in which organisations work in terms of purpose, culture and how they connect with their audiences. He combines his expertise in anthropology, executive coaching, organisational culture, facilitation and service design to work with CEOs, senior leaders and their teams to develop dynamic and collaborative organisational cultures.

John holds a PhD in Social Anthropology and has formal training in executive coaching (EMCC EQA), facilitation, organisational consultancy, qualitative research, mediation and group psychoanalysis. He is a guest lecturer at Cass Business School and a Visiting Scholar at the Royal College of Art in design anthropology. He is also a Fellow at the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), a TEDx speaker and his thinking and work has appeared in the Financial Times and other media. He has consulted for a number of think-tanks in the UK such as The Young Foundation and Demos and has previously been an advisor for the Design Council UK on health. His current clients range across a number of industries including global FMCG, pharmaceutical, media, retail, charity and premiership football.

Key takeaways

  • Understanding the client/agency relationship
  • Adopting the "anthropological mindset"
  • Decoding the unconscious cultural barriers that block the delivery of value

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