Ad Agency

Escaping Tunnel Vision in the New Year

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By: Amanda Fiore

Every year, whether we’re ready or not, Q4 rolls around, meaning one thing: enter tunnel vision. Tunnel vision can be defined as the tendency to focus exclusively on one thing, without taking into consideration the entire picture. During Q4, tunnel vision is seemingly inevitable: we’re wrapping up the entire fiscal year, in terms of earnings, contracts, and campaign specific deliverables, while preparing for the next. And once Q1 hits, it’s going to be difficult to get out of that narrow mindset which has become habitual throughout the preceding months. However, with the new year comes a new resolution: to nip tunnel vision in the bud, and replace it with more rounded thinking, and broader vision for the year to come.

As a media agency, our main job is to plan and execute successful media campaigns, while providing our clients with the top notch service and expertise. And as the year comes to a close and a new one begins, it is instinctual for us to do what it takes to get all owed deliverables to our clients by end of year. Whether it be a campaign wrap up report, or finalizing specific contracts that need to be put into place before year end, tunnel vision creeps in, ensuring the task at hand is completed and checked off the list so that we can move onto the next thing quickly. Often, tunnel vision can cause us to become hyper-specific: rather than taking into account various effects or causes, our efforts become geared toward completing tasks by given dates, with action executed swiftly.

This tunnel vision though can which ultimately rob us from looking at the greater picture, especially as we head into Q1, a time for our vision to bloom, not contract. We should be asking ourselves specific questions for everything we do: why does this report need to be delivered this month? What is this report telling us? How can we incorporate these learnings into our next campaign? And so on. However, in the throughs of tunnel vision, we can become guilty of approaching each task with a narrow focus, more intent on getting it done, rather than seeing it as part of a larger piece.

So, what if, we took a step back? To breath and digest? To take a moment in this fast-paced, demanding industry and to not just do what we’re asked, but to critically think on it, and understand what it may mean for the rest of the year?

The start of a new fiscal year is a crucial time for any company, but reacting without critically thinking can do more harm than good. It is important for each employee of an agency to look back and reflect on the past year to improve upon the next. Reflect on personal performance, as well as, the agency’s. What were the biggest accomplishments for the agency this year? Did we win new business that allowed us to go in a direction different than ever before? If so, what were those learnings? Taking a step back to see how all the pieces come together to make up the bigger picture can help prevent tunnel vision.

It is important to take a closer look at the other pieces that make up your agency, too and this may entail getting up from your desk and talking to people down the hall in or in a different department. What are they doing? What are their pain points or accomplishments of the year? How does your role within the agency fit affect theirs?Taking the time to talk to colleagues outside your immediate team can also prevent tunnel vision, as it helps to look at the larger picture of what is going outside the three walls of your cube and how your daily actions fit into the larger operations of the company.

Taking the necessary steps to avoid tunnel vision in the new year will positively impact client work, agency performance, and personal growth, as well as start you on the right foot for the year to come.