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Is a fear of process holding you back?

I recently had the benefit of sitting through an insightful DBA training session on New Business by DBA Expert Jonathan Kirk. Aside from all the practical tips that were given to the audience, I was struck by the one thing that held everything together – process.

It is the same thing that I encounter when talking to agencies who are continually successful in the DBA Design Effectiveness Awards, and also in those that manage to recruit and retain the best staff. They have a process for everything.

Many an agency will champion their creative process and rightly so; it’s tried and tested and delivers great work for their clients. But away from creativity, shying away from ‘process’ is still a common trait. Is it because, as an industry, we are supposed to have a freewheeling, fly by the seat of our pants approach to life and somehow process – especially when applying it to our businesses – appears to go against this ethos?

For a small, lifestyle business this approach may work perfectly well. With low overheads a business could cope with the peaks and troughs of agency life. But it can take a toll on the agency lead. We have all seen people burn out.

So, the answer must be a process for everything? Well, yes and no. Having something written down as a guide for everyone to follow is essential, but crucially it needs to be simple and even more crucially it needs to be followed. I bet you already have a folder called ‘Processes’ hidden away on your server that hasn’t been visited for years.

When it comes to new business you need to decide who you are targeting, why you are targeting them and when and how you will go about doing it. Otherwise you adopt the ‘spray and pray’ approach that DBA Expert Natasha Ellard-Shoefield recently discussed in this article for the DBA; Natasha makes clear that a more considered, process-led approach from the outset, is key to developing long-term client relationships.

The business as a whole will benefit from everyone knowing what is expected of them and how they are meant to behave; once you’ve got your process, write it down and communicate it to the rest of the team to make sure they understand. 

The same principle on processes for new business can be carried throughout the business. How do you combat the problem of assessing the effectiveness of your work? Ask the right questions on KPIs and measurements at the start of the project and log the responses into your project timeline so you can assess your success after the project has finished. 

With recruitment and talent development decide what skills you want in your business and look for those. Consider asking a staff member to redact gender and ethnicity information from CVs prior to viewing so that you are not swayed by unconscious bias. It is a common trait to recruit in your own image rather than on talent. Put the processes in place that will help you get the right person for the job, rather than the best you can manage to find.

Be creative with your processes if that helps – but keep them simple. Fitting into a process will not stifle your creativity, it will allow it to flourish.


About: Adam Fennelow, Head of Services, DBA

The DBA exists to represent you and support your business. If you need a critical friend give me a call on 020 7251 9229. I am always happy to talk through business issues and help advise on further resources and support.

Image credits: 

Gery Wibowo | Unsplash


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