As a family we spent four happy weeks last summer exploring nine European countries and learning more about cultures, people and places beyond our own. That experience reinforced to me the important of the shared values and bonds that we share with our neighbours on the European mainland.

Day 3 of our 2019 European tour – French Alps

It’s hard to avoid the fact that today, the last day of January 2020, is the day that the UK is leaving the European Union. For me the sadness that leaving the EU brings is significant. It feels like a generational backward geo-political step in this connected world.

The delusion that we’ll be able to achieve more outside rather than within the European Union is all too pervasive.

And it represents a collective lack of self-awareness among many fellow Britons about our real significance on the world stage in 2020 rather than in 1920.

The contrast between the dignity and good grace with which our departure from the European Union has been commemorated in European capitals and the petty flag waving from Brexit Party MEPs yesterday is a powerful representation of this delusion.

But this is the reality we have got ourselves into and I don’t believe it’s healthy to devote mental energy to things that I can’t make a difference to personally.

So life goes on and we have to create opportunities to shape the future within the new contexts that will emerge as we start to understand what a life outside the European Union will be like.

On a much more positive note, January at Deeson has kicked off at a frenetic pace. The passion and energy of our team members in their work never ceases to impress me.

We’ve started work with Middlesex University to work with them on their new website discovery and digital strategy project. This is really exciting as it builds upon the successful work we’ve delivered in the higher education sector in the past two years for clients like University of Derby (www.derby.ac.uk) and London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (www.lamda.ac.uk).

So far I’ve been really impressed with the team at Middlesex and their passion for their work – we’re excited about the potential to design a new web platform that both the university and Deeson can be truly proud of.

Other work also kicking off this month includes:

  • a new web platform build for a major UK membership organisation in the cultural and media sector
  • the build phase of our work on the new Southbank Centre website
  • discovery and design work on the rebuild of website and online collections platform for a top-10 UK visitor attraction in London.
  • digital strategy for a UK membership organisation that’s very close to my heart as a marketer by training.
  • a new user research project for a government department.
  • kicking off a new digital partnership client in the B2B sector, further expanding our work with the Wagtail CMS.
  • – onboarding for a new digital partnership client in the culture and visitor attractions sector, helping them plot out their digital future at an exciting time in the venue’s transformation.

We’ve also experienced the highs and lows of the agency pitch process this month. Because of our unique operating model that gives each client a named permanent team for the long term, we’re very selective about taking on new client work.

But when we do pitch for new clients for whom we’re confident we can deliver excellent work, we do so in the knowledge that only one agency can come out of that process successfully.

This month we had the infrequent experience of coming out of that process unsuccessfully with a public sector pitch that we delivered early in the month. While that’s disappointing, it’s also a fact of life in a competitive pitch process. We’ve reviewed and learnt from the experience.

Part of that retrospective highlighted the importance of the client’s role in running the agency selection process effectively. This particular client had put a lot of thought into the process to ensure it allowed them to consider and select an agency partner fairly and at pace.

Things like having a well-written and coherent brief, shortlisting a pragmatic number of agencies to submit proposals and then move forward to pitch, providing rapid and full answers to clarification questions and being flexible rather than dogmatic about process were all positive signs.

Those things reflect well on the client and their insight into the needs of the client and the agency in a successful selection process. It’s no surprise that they have an experienced digital project lead with real agency experience on their team.

But the standout part of this selection process was the quality of the feedback given to us – it was well considered, extensive, fair and actionable. It showed the rigour of the process and the factors that led us to being a genuine close second.

As we head into February we’re developing our business plan for Deeson for the 12 months ahead. Lots of exciting new initiatives, partnerships and new ideas for team Deeson to bring to fruition. Things never stand still!

If you’d like to be part of this journey we’re hiring for Canterbury-based junior, senior and lead technical roles (full stack, PHP, React) and a London-based user research role. More details at www.deeson.co.uk/careers or drop me a line at simonw@deeson.co.uk.