Bethan Turner reflects on a recent client conversation that sparked some debate. 

I was recently talking to a client-side contact about their previous agency, trying to understand why they weren’t happy with their work and how we could help.

As I’m sure you can understand, I was all for the conversation going against the previous agency, but instead I found myself fighting their corner.

They were being criticised for “learning on the job”.

“I’m not paying them for learning on the job” is what I heard. Now I completely understand the point of view here. If you pay money to an agency, you’re ultimately paying them to help make you look good. The best way to make you look good is often by using well tried and tested methods that will deliver maximum impact with minimal risk. In some cases, you might be lucky to be able to call yourself a “trusted partner”, and delve into the world of “co-creation”, where newer techniques might be more welcome, but even still – no client wants to be an experiment.

However, if you don’t learn on the job, when do you learn? The industry of research and analytics changes so fast, how can we expect to keep up with it unless we’re learning new skills, techniques and applications as we go? How can you expect to be forward thinking without practice, and how can you practice without learning? William Deming, an American engineer, said that “learning is not compulsory… but neither is survival” and I couldn’t agree with that more. If we stop learning – we will get left behind. We will stop thriving, and stop surviving as a business.

I’m not saying that we at Honeycomb are always at the front of the innovation curve, always using the newest and most whizzy techniques and ideas. Of course, we also have our trusty, proven approaches we know will uncover insights from your data. Sometimes, simple is best. We don’t complicate things if there’s no need.

But we also have newer, contemporary ideas that still need tweaking and refining. They might not work for every business decision, but they might show us something we never expected. Something ground breaking for your business.

Learning is something we do every day at Honeycomb. It’s something we prioritise and are proud of. Our jobs as researchers, as analysts, as data scientists, is to uncover insight – to find out something that wasn’t known before. We’re not scared of new. We will always be trying new things, and we will always be learning. We don’t apologise for that.