Letting Go to Grow: The Role of Fresh Perspectives in Digital Teams

Toby Jervis
Toby Jervis
Long corridor with light shinning through on either side

Has anyone working in design and/or development actually ever thought to themselves, 'I've got the perfect team'? 'I've got all bases covered. I've got exactly the right team size, mixed with just the right amount of work'? Or, 'We're so good, nobody could show us anything we don't already know’...?

Realistically, you might have said it, but did you ever really believe it? The likelihood is, you’re working with a great team, but you’re stretched. Maybe your resource is spread thinly, or being used for a lot of important day-to-day necessities that means it can be hard to stick your head above water and actually take the time for a ‘what if…’ question, let alone wondering what the solution might look like.

Recently, someone said to me, 'We don't need any help with that sort of thing; we handle all of that internally.' I think they were in that exact mindset. And though this was clearly a bit of a brush-off (which is fair), it sparked a thought. What if some people genuinely think like this? What if it wasn't merely a brush-off, but that they truly believed they had it all figured out? Could there really be individuals in our industry convinced they've got everything sorted? Surely, that’s not possible.

That was my initial reaction. However, it led me to reflect. Perhaps those who are actively designing, coding, or closely involved with those who do, understand that this just isn’t realistic. They know there’s always something new to learn or a perspective they haven’t yet considered. But then I wondered... maybe there are those, not as immersed in the day-to-day action, who believe they or their team have nailed it all. Now, that's a frightening thought.

Throughout my career, mainly on the agency side, I've had the fortune to collaborate with numerous remarkable teams, both in-house and external, across various sectors and specialisms. Each team has been unique, and I can attest that I've learned something new with every project. This experience has ingrained in me a belief that no matter how much I think I know, or how successful my team’s latest project may have been, there's always something new to learn and another perspective we haven’t yet considered. Embracing this, finding motivation and even inspiration from it to drive my team and me, has been crucial. To be clear, this isn’t about harbouring imposter syndrome. We are confident in our abilities and know where we add value, and our clients can attest to that. But we remain vigilant, always exploring, always listening, eager for that fresh perspective. And we firmly believe that this is where the magic truly happens!

Abstract walkway

An Outsider's Perspective

Our fascination with the power of fresh perspectives isn't just talk around here at evensix; it's woven into the fabric of what we do, so much so that we've created a whole service around it called a 'Design Sprint.' Just to set the record straight, this isn't me trying to sell you on it. I'm just sharing a bit of the backstory on why these Sprints are a big part of our approach.

For those of you feeling a bit curious and want to dive deeper, there’s a place you can go to quench that thirst for knowledge 😉…

Our 'Design Sprints' sprang to life from a mix of our own inquisitiveness and our clients' thirst for innovation. The kick-off is pretty straightforward: day one is all about getting cosy with the brand. We dive in, team up, and sketch out what we aim to achieve in the Sprint ahead (imagining all the magic we can conjure up in the next five days). Following that, we craft a concept that's ready to be shown off internally or externally, or even pushed further into testing. The goal? To tackle a significant challenge someone's facing in as short as five days. This is the basic premise of a Google Design Sprint.

Now, I'll be the first to say, spending just one day onboarding doesn't mean we've mastered the ins and outs of a business (though you'd be amazed at how much ground we can cover interrogating the right minds around the table). But here's the kicker: that's not really the goal. It's about drawing on our collective experiences, making connections to past hurdles, and seizing the chance to inject a new perspective. There's something about being a bit of an outsider, not tangled in the day-to-day, that brings a refreshing clarity—something that's frequently overlooked. Often, it's precisely what's needed to energise the team and light the way forward, provided it's communicated clearly. We're talking about insights that resonate on a universal level, not just another 100-page PowerPoint or a vague platitude masquerading as wisdom.

An expert's perspective

The initial conversation I mentioned got me thinking about something else though: How do you know when you've truly got everything sorted? How do you recognise when you’re in that elite top 1% that’s achieved greatness? When is it okay to kick back, relax, and tell yourself, "No help needed here, we’ve got this"? It’s all relative, isn't it…depending on your company’s size, the industry you’re in, and the complexity of your challenges. Otherwise, it feels a bit like you're just chasing your own tail. Surely, gaining an outside perspective is part of this equation too?

I’ve actually waded into these waters before, during one of the most memorable new business calls I’ve had the privilege to join. I hope to share who it was with one day (I'll ask for permission), but here’s a peek at how that call unfolded:

We did our bit at the start, rolling out the usual introductions, laying out our services, and explaining how we thought we could help. Their response was interesting—they clarified they were on the call more out of curiosity to see what’s out there. They mentioned they weren't actively seeking any external support at the time, content with their array of high-calibre agencies and their own excellent internal team (N.B. they weren’t lying!). I was immediately struck by their attitude; it was incredibly refreshing. Here was someone who understood that no matter your level of expertise or how solid your team is, staying open to new ideas and continuously scouting for fresh perspectives is crucial. That’s the real secret to knowing you’re on top of your game—or identifying when you’re not.

It's about recognising the strengths of your colleagues, grasping their knowledge, creating a space where uncertainties can be voiced, and collectively pushing the boundaries of innovation.

A collaborative perspective (The hive mind)

Truth be told, it took me a while to realise that achieving greatness in design and/or development is truly a team sport. I haven't always seen it this way. Our Design Lead, Pete, recently shared his experiences as a designer in an article that hits on this very idea.

In any team, it all comes down to trust. It's about recognising the strengths of your colleagues, grasping their knowledge, creating a space where uncertainties can be voiced, and collectively pushing the boundaries of innovation. And to be crystal clear, this spirit of cooperation isn't just an internal affair at evensix. It stretches to our clients too. The trust must be mutual; they depend on us as much as we depend on them. When we establish this mutual trust, both within evensix and with our clients, we transform into a single formidable unit. And that’s when the magic truly begins.

Our joint skills, knowledge, and experiences merge to guide our approach. It's the accumulation of years of learning, a multitude of experiences, and, let’s face it, the occasional missteps, that bring about a perspective we might never have considered before (and it still astonishes me). This is why we’ve never limited ourselves to just one sector. The insights we've gained from a variety of sectors provide us with an edge; those unexpected nuggets of wisdom tend to emerge in the most surprising ways.

Pairing domain experts (our clients) with our own experts in design and development, all within a framework of trust, is where things start to get exciting. Ideas are sparked, and the pursuit of greatness becomes clear. The impact of such collaboration is immense and that is where the perspective of teams and individuals from outside of your immediate circle can really change the way you think. This is where new perspectives are formed.

Staircase pointing in a new direction

Growing up and letting go…

Since launching evensix five years ago (coincidentally, the anniversary was the day I started writing this), we’ve grown a lot—in team size, client base, knowledge, and experience. This journey has enriched us with a vital asset: perspective.

Initially, our model was comprehensive; we tackled every aspect of a project from inception to completion. This was reflective of our early clientele—smaller companies without internal teams, in dire need of comprehensive services. We prided ourselves on our ability to control every phase, ensuring each project was portfolio-worthy—a standard we’ve never failed to meet, something that fills me with immense pride.

Yet, as we've evolved, so has our understanding of what truly drives our success. It isn't about control, but rather our capacity to integrate and collaborate with established teams. Our strength lies not only in our individual expertise but in our collective ability to enhance and work in harmony with new clients and their teams. Our focus has shifted towards augmenting these teams, injecting new perspectives from the outside to challenge and elevate their work.

We aim to empower businesses to a point where our involvement is only needed for fresh insights. That’s the moment we consider our mission accomplished.

Today signifies a pivotal moment for us. We're moving beyond the full-service model to highlight our role as collaborative partners to other experts. While we remain passionate about managing projects from start to finish, our ultimate goal has evolved. We aim to empower businesses to a point where our involvement is only needed for fresh insights. That’s the moment we consider our mission accomplished.

Looking ahead, our focus is on team development over project acquisition, on inspiring rather than empire-building. This approach not only nurtures growth but fosters a culture of mutual respect and collective achievement.

If this resonates with you, if it sounds like exactly what you’ve been searching for, then we’d be thrilled to start a conversation. Reach out to us; we’re eager to hear from you. It seems we’re both looking for the same thing.