Phil Romans on Innovation, Agility and LucrumX

Phil Romans on Innovation, Agility and LucrumX

How Phil Romans of LucrumX believes 5 Day Sprints may be the fast track to creative innovation in a modern marketing environment

Nick Fawbert
/ Categories: Analysis

The Gathering Storm

There wasn’t much love on Valentine’s Day for Dentsu, one of the world’s largest media and marketing groups.

They reported stagnant or declining revenues across a range of markets in 2019, contributing to a loss of Y80.9bn ($737m) in 2019.

But whilst it’s tempting to focus on their strategy and senior management team, the reality is that there is a systemic purge of traditional marketing practices across the world that is pulling the rug from beneath the profit margins of established companies.

Agencies navigating the shifting sands of the digital era are facing a cliff edge in their relationships (and revenues) with clients.

It’s time to find new ways of working says Phil Romans, founder of LucrumX, a marketing transformation consultancy igniting change in China.

The Demand for Strategic Innovation

Until recently Managing Director of Mediacom in Guangzhou, the powerhouse of China’s new technology Greater Bay Area, Phil has first-hand experience of the challenges facing both major brands and their agencies as they attempt to restructure and learn new skills.

For Phil, it’s straightforward:

“The answer to fast moving marketing environments is to learn the attitudes and approaches that deliver the agility that reduces campaign lead times from months to days.”

As simple as it sounds, Phil doesn’t believe it’s easy to deliver:

“In an environment where time is critical, it seems as if everyone thinks they’re in a marathon instead of a sprint. It’s not wise, but it’s understandable.

“Professionals struggle to sprint because they may lack organizational infrastructure, need to manage and balance risks, or find it hard to harness their agency partners and suppliers.”

He sees an added crisis in the way ideas are brought to market. If agility demands a high turnover of new ideas and new communications tactics, then perhaps there is insufficient innovation in the existing creative models:

“A key pain point for many time-starved professionals is the pressure of growing a dialogue with an existing market but a lack of ‘new news’.  The solution is to quickly develop compelling campaigns on an iterative basis that will confidently excite both internal and external stakeholders.”

Designing Solutions

Phil, and LucrumX see a solution based around a five step process: immersion, identification, exploration, examination and elevation.

“We are as harsh with ourselves as the market is with our clients. Creative innovation needs to be delivered in an instant response environment, and we aim to deliver transformative strategies inside five days.”

They call it a 5 Day Sprint, and they’re committed to delivering transformation inside that timescale.


Step one is about taking a deep dive to identify the single insight that will provide the keystone for the communications plan:

“The aim is to deeply immerse the teams in their brands from a consumer perspective. We are not looking to duplicate any work that has already been undertaken but rather to familiarize ourselves with it, reanalyse it, reinterpret it, and build on it.

“We identify the key issues that will unlock growth by defining the ‘problem behind the problem’.  Our experience tells us that this is one of the most critical parts of any brief: a problem that can be realistically addressed by marketing communications

“Finally, we develop an initial insight that will help us build a solution.”


At the 24 hour mark, it’s all about delivering more polish to the brief and propositions that will allow the entire team to move forward.  The aim is to stay focused on the key issues and identify insights to move forward with the solution.

“We co-develop a final agenda and a strategic way forward for the creative session – this can be with a small handpicked internal team, the broader Sales & Marketing Team or with external partners. We then clearly map out the 1-day creative session that is efficient and effective for all stakeholders.”


The next day is critical, bringing all key stakeholders together for the make or break moment.

There’s an on-boarding session with selected participants (e.g. agency partners, sales, research and others) that formalizes workshop objectives and key expectations.

They use the session to co-create creative directions within teams of multi-functional specialists and develop an executional way forward for each strategic channel.

From Phil’s perspective, clarity is key:

“We develop simple materials to put into research for feedback and further development that stay on the desktop of all stakeholders to guide their thoughts.”


The penultimate day is all about honing the ideas, implementing safety checks and bringing the team to a focus:

“We quickly explore three directions with online qualitative and quantitative research, working with our partners to accelerate feedback.

“The use of research is as a ‘disaster check’ to ensure we do not move forward with sub-optimal solutions. Research also helps identify the core drivers (both positive and negative) to each direction.”

This is documented in a whitepaper and given meaning with specific recommendations for a way forward.


The final day is about presenting the findings back to the team and establishing a specific, measurable, timebound plan of action.

Phil explains the focus is on facilitating the next steps:

“It’s a mini-workshop to ensure buy-in, generate executions and identify channels to develop and the means with which to do it.

“We are very specific with the output, it’s a finalized brief that covers all stakeholders and delivers creative seeds that accelerate development.”

Seize the Day

Phil firmly believes that it is approaches like these that will teach their clients the agility and flexibility that deliver results in modern fast-moving environments.

“We offer a 5 day sprint that co-creates accelerated solutions for immediate development. A sprint planned and moderated by experienced and relevant specialists to overcome bottlenecks for better, quicker results.”

From Mutiny’s perspectives we’re massive believers in speed and agility.

We’d like to see Phil and LucrumX make it work.

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Nick Fawbert

Nick FawbertNick Fawbert

With 25 years in the media and marketing industry, and almost 20 of those in digital marketing, Nick is one of the most experienced practitioners in the Asia marketing industry. He is Founder and CEO of Mutiny Consulting.

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