Adapted from the agricultural world, ‘hothousing’ refers to the practice of protecting plants from cold weather by growing them in a heated greenhouse. By creating a special condition, the hope is that the plants’ development can be accelerated by growing it in a unique environment.

Similarly, when used in a different context, a hothousing strategy is a situation where special conditions can be applied to help accelerate the growth of someone or something.

For Ajab Samrai, hothousing was the radical approach needed for Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) Group Japan to attain success.

Mr. Samrai has a wealth of experience to draw upon as the Global Chief Creative Officer at Blitzworks. His career started at Saatchi & Saatchi London, working under the legendary Paul Arden. Having joined in the late 1980s, he was among the first British born Asians to break into the advertising industry and one of the youngest Creative Group Heads in the history of the company at age 23. At Saatchi & Saatchi London, Mr. Samrai worked on some of the world’s biggest brands, including Vodafone, Coca Cola, British Airways and Delta Airlines, to name but a few.

The experience in London was good for Mr. Samrai, but like others before him, he was driven by an urge to frighten himself, knowing that, like many creatives, being scared is when you’re most alive as a creative person. Additionally, he yearned for an opportunity to shape an office, having previously dedicated his efforts to providing creative work for specific client accounts. Therefore, he decided to take the Chief Creative Officer role at O&M Group Japan, whose culture and creativity he admired.

The Turnaround

By his own admission, Mr. Samrai was unable to have much of an impact in the first month. Mostly, he attributes this lack of initial progress to his commitment to following the advice he’d been given upon moving to Japan. While the advice was well-meaning, Mr. Samrai soon realized that he had to be radical if he was going to turn the situation around. He started with a physical redesign of the office, with barriers removed and a central meeting point installed.

From a process perspective, Mr. Samrai introduced a version of the Saatchi hothousing process he’d been involved in on numerous occasions. The 2:2:1 model, as he named it, served to push creative teams to push out and deliberate over more ideas in a relatively short span, with clients getting feedback within days rather than weeks.

This methodology worked, and the creative department became the focal point of change. Processes moved faster as people were empowered to think less rigidly, and soon enough, the agency was winning consecutive major pitches and outdoing highly-staffed competitors.