How can we avoid a professional groundhog day? That feeling of getting stuck in a rut. Of making the same mistakes. The unrelenting churn of the day-to-day. Head of Client Services Frances Irvine reckons she knows the winning formula...

The process of working towards mastery of anything inevitably involves uncertainty, courage, failure and persistence. Perhaps mastery is indeed unattainable in an industry which is so fast paced. All we can hope for is to capitalise on every success, near win and failure. Here at Whitespace, we don’t pretend to have all the answers - but we do have a few ideas in place to help us in this endless pursuit.


Weave test and learn into your process


All good client relationships are borne out of partnership. Our most successful client partnerships function on the basis of mutual understanding and respect for test and learn.

The Stand Out Method is our internal methodology that allows us to work in honest and open collaboration with our clients to constantly QUESTION, 
EXPLORE and MAKE our ideas happen. It can be used in a variety of contexts, from effective short meetings, to the delivery of successful multi-month initiatives.


Stand Out Method


There are many benefits to working in this way with our clients but these are the most pertinent in this context:


1. We think big, then we focus

Within each of the three phases of the Stand Out Method, we challenge each other to question, innovate and think bigger. At the end of each phase, we then bring discipline and focus, clarifying what we have learnt and what we progress to the next phase.


2. We test, learn and repeat

We take an audience-centric approach to ensure everything we do improves the experience. We can the use the Stand Out Method to re-question and improve upon our ideas and solutions on an ongoing basis.


3. More feedback!

At Whitespace we take feedback seriously. This means getting constant, honest feedback from both clients, colleagues and peers alike. Within Whitespace we have a formal system for feedback with bi-annual 360 feedback for the whole company. Whilst a fantastic idea, it can just give you an overview of the past 6 months rather than the particulars that you really need to focus on.

We should take a tip from the often derided millennials here. (I should add here that I am not a Millenial - instead I am wedged in the odd spot between Millennial and Gen X - but the majority of Whitespacers are.) Millennials are great at asking for feedback. Instant feedback. How did I do in that meeting? What did you think of that presentation? Their approach to open, regular feedback means that hopefully by the time you get to the 360 feedback time, there are no surprises!


4. Dare to fail

As anyone I have line managed will attest, I am not a micromanager (perhaps it’s the Gen-Xer in me). I fully subscribe to the belief that in order to make progress it’s better to beg for forgiveness rather than ask for permission. Providing an environment for your team to have this approach is essential for their personal development.

Naturally I have principles around this: 

  • When you fail (and fail you will if you are doing this properly) you must admit the mistake.
  • Next up is taking full responsibility for rectifying the issue - and as a bonus there’s no better way to earn respect from your peers. 

This is somewhat tricksy, particularly when it involves paid client work where failure could come at their expense. Experience tells me though that through honesty, collaboration and persistence truly the best work is created. I only hope that through working with us and adopting the Stand Out Method, any failure (or perhaps near miss) can be considered a win in itself.