Getting sucked into the tiny details of a problematic project can have huge unintended consequences. It’s a situation I’ve seen time and again: an agency dedicates all its resources to a demanding project, only to fall behind, neglect other clients, and completely stop essential activities like sales and marketing. This tunnel vision not only fails to resolve the initial issue but often exacerbates the overall situation.
The Trap of Focused Fixation
Recently, I encountered a challenging situation with a web development agency I work with. They had taken on a project that, while not particularly complex, suffered from initial oversights. The project scope was vaguely defined, deliverables were unclear, and numerous dependencies were uncertain. Despite the risks, the team commenced work on the project with the best intentions.
As the deadline approached, we noticed increasing client inquiries about the deliverables, revealing that many dependencies were still unmet. This inefficiency forced the team into a frantic mode of operation. The situation escalated when, two weeks before the deadline, the client demanded previews of specific website pages, having seen no prior progress. This led to the discovery that the developers were behind schedule due to unobtained client-owned dependencies, resulting in further inefficiencies.
In response, the team redirected all available resources to work tirelessly, including over weekends, to meet the deadline. A week before the due date, it became apparent that the client had not provided essential content and imagery, leaving the developers to use placeholder content, thus rendering the website unfit for launch.
Attempting to be proactive, the team started creating content themselves, going beyond the original scope. Despite these efforts, the website remained incomplete three weeks past the deadline.
The client, now in a state of panic, frequently contacted us, stressing over the delayed deliverables. Communications moved from central project management tools with regular check-ins, to multiple emails, phone calls and WhatsApp groups.
This project not only affected the immediate team, but had broader implications for the agency.
As resources were concentrated on this single project, other essential aspects such as sales, marketing, lead follow-ups, client satisfaction, and internal planning were neglected. This neglect led to a gradual decline in client satisfaction, project delays, team burnout, and a potential loss of clients.
It’s one of those projects that can end a business. 💀
The Power of ‘Zooming Out’
This is where the concept of ‘zooming out’ comes into play. It’s about stepping back to gain a broader perspective of your agency or team’s operations. When you zoom out, you see not just the problematic project but the entire landscape of your business. This perspective is crucial for several reasons:
Balanced Resource Allocation: By looking at the big picture, you can allocate resources more effectively, ensuring that no single project overwhelms your capacity to manage others.
Preventing Neglect of Core Functions: Sales, marketing, and client relations are the lifeblood of any business. Zooming out helps you maintain a healthy balance between project execution and these critical functions.
Strategic Decision-Making: A holistic view allows you to make decisions that are in the best interest of your entire business, not just a single project.
Applying the ‘Zoom Out’ Approach
Here’s how you can apply this approach in your agency or team:
Regular Reviews: Schedule regular sessions to review all ongoing projects and business functions. This ensures that no area is being neglected.
Diversified Attention: Make sure your attention, and that of your team, is spread across various aspects of your business. This includes client management, new business development, and internal projects.
Flexible Resource Management: Be ready to reallocate resources as needed, but always with an eye on how these changes affect other areas of your business.
Learning from the Past
Reflecting on past experiences, like the scenario mentioned earlier, can offer valuable insights. Ask yourself, what could have been done differently? Perhaps reallocating some resources to maintain other client relationships or continuing marketing efforts, even in a reduced capacity, could have mitigated the negative impacts.
Here’s a critical lesson I will give you up front though - as a leader of your business you CANNOT let yourself get sucked into the current largest fire 🔥, whilst neglecting everything else.
You need to delegate where possible to your team, and remember that your role is to steer the ship!
Conclusion: Why Seeing the Big Picture Matters
‘Zooming out’ is more than a skill; it’s your secret weapon. It helps you navigate through complex projects without losing sight of your business’s health. Think of it like playing chess – you need to think a few moves ahead, not just react to the current situation.
This approach isn’t just about dodging bullets; it’s about setting up your agency or team long term.
I know it’s cheesy, but you can actually turn today’s decisions into tomorrow’s successes, just by simply stepping back and looking ahead.
- Regularly assess all projects and operations to ensure balance and attention
- Balance resources and avoid overburdening any single project
- Prioritise essential business functions such as sales, marketing, and client relations
- Delegate effectively
- Regularly zoom out to gain a broader perspective of your business, preventing tunnel vision on the current largest fire
In my consulting and coaching practice, I emphasise this holistic approach, helping leaders like you avoid common carnage and steer their teams towards more sustainable growth and success.
If you’re facing similar challenges in your digital agency or web development team, let’s connect and explore how we can apply this approach to your unique situation.