Agency life revolves around its projects. No sooner has one come and gone, than there’s more to take its place – the next one snapping at our heels, vying for our attention. There’s barely time to look around, let alone look back at what we’ve done.

But, of course, the danger of not looking back is that we risk making the same mistakes again…and again. If not
ourselves, then certainly as a team if we act in silos. Not good for projects, the team and ultimately, not good for business. Reflection also turns kneejerk reaction into measured response, giving you far deeper insight and learning than you would on the go. It’s a principle argument for ‘slow thinking’…but that’s another story.

What I am talking about is ‘the learning organisation’ – a favourite of Management texts – and the idea that people within an organization, both individually and collectively, must find ways to continually channel their learnings back into the process to produce better and better results. Personal growth is a welcome and healthy by-product of the learning organization.

What works for your team will depend on its style and personality. Circulating reports by email didn’t work for us, nor did collaborating on lengthy post-campaign evaluations. An e-roundup of news each week has had limited success. However, what does work for us are face-to-face opportunities for people to learn, ranging from agency-wide sessions to team and skillset-specific ones. Consider some of these for yourself

Creative reviews
Each month, get the Creative team together to cast a critical eye over key work delivered the previous month. Consciously push aside all the constraints and limitations imposed on the project at the time, and ask “What could have been better?”, “What would we do differently next time?” There should be no finger-pointing, but instead, an understanding that everyone did a good job under the circumstances, and that this is an opportunity to do even better next time.

Creative best practises
Learning while doing is a vital and practical part of a team member’s development. But this development can be accelerated through a series of best practice sessions covering a range of common techniques and problem areas. Get your senior creatives to lead sessions such as ‘Designing for kids’, ‘Animation tips & tricks’ and ‘AS3 for designers’…whatever the team needs.

Producer sessions
In looking after their own set of clients, inconsistencies may develop between how Producers go about their work. Regular Producer sessions will allow them to compare notes, evaluate techniques and importantly, agree a consistent approach moving forwards.

Comms meetings
One of our few all-agency meetings, a monthly Communications meeting provides an opportunity for everyone to sit back and enjoy. Rotating team members present key learnings from recent campaigns, making sure they leave plenty of room for Q&As at the end. A chance to celebrate your hits, as well as learn from your misses.

With a diary already full of meetings, it may be hard to justify even more. But with the right consideration and approach, these ideas may save you time…and more.