2015 Recap

By Erik Reagan

I experience the same feeling each year as we approach New Year's Eve. Where did the time go?!

I experience the same feeling each year as we approach New Year's Eve. Where did the time go?! It's a seemingly inevitable feeling, yet it's always accompanied by a hint of surprise. This year was no exception. Frankly, by early November I was personally already living in 2016: planning, strategizing, scheduling, etc. But I won't get ahead of myself. Today is about reflecting on 2015.

A Year of Growth

2015 has been an amazing year of growth. And by "growth" I don't mean numbers. While our numbers have grown steadily, the amazing part of our growth has been the intangible stuff. This is the stuff that matters a bit more to me. I'm talking about things like better client experience. Better internal collaboration. Better client collaboration. Better business processes. Better leadership. Lots of better. One of our Core Standards is Make it Better and there's no doubt everyone on the team lived that out this year. Focus Lab has grown tremendously throughout 2015!

Milestones

There were a number of milestones we passed this year, but three in particular stand out as I reflect a bit. The first is that we made a few key hires that will really enable us to push into our next stage of growth. I realized that a few of us were spread way too thin so it was time to relieve some of that pressure and hire some people to help make this machine run better. I can't express how excited I am about what this means for Focus Lab. This year wouldn't have been the same without reaching this milestone.

Second up is our office space. You may have seen some photos on our site, or perhaps our Instagram feed, or maybe you've even been to the office before. We put a lot of time, energy, and dollars into making our space beautiful and functional. Well earlier this year we had an opportunity to nearly double our office space by grabbing an additional suite down the hall from our existing space. We didn't need the extra square footage yet, but we knew it would be helpful long-term and the timing was right. We've been in a pretty firm "savings" mode so we haven't done many aesthetic changes to that space yet—hence the lack of noise-making about it. But the addition has been really nice for us this year and I’ll be glad to have it as we continue to grow in size.

The last milestone I wanted to mention was the launch of Sidecar, our home for quality design assets and teachings. We'd long-dreamt of launching something like Sidecar. It evolved over time but the dream never diminished. We've hardly scratched the surface of what Sidecar will become. I'm thrilled about its performance in 2015—and very excited about what's to come in 2016. Keep an eye on the Sidecar Journal for a 2015 Year in Review in January.

Changes

One of the key areas of our growth this year was due to some hard lessons last year. This led to a significant change that has had a tremendous impact on our company. This year we started separating the Research phase of every project into its own micro-project—prior to outlining goals, scope, schedule, etc for the production work.

This seemingly small change has benefited us and our partners in awesome ways. It's taken some trial and error, along with talking to other agencies about how they do things, to get things settled. Even with the leaps and bounds we've grown in this area, we're always striving to make things better and have some plans to further improve this as we kick off 2016.

The Quarterly

My favorite change this year was our addition of Quarterly get-togethers. We're a blend of on-site and remote team members. As a result it's important for us to get the entire team together from time to time. I first recognized the real value in this when we went on a team retreat in the Summer of 2014. That was the only time that year that we tried to get everyone in the same place at once. This year we decided that this needed to be a regular thing.

In early Q2 we had our first "Quarterly" gathering. All remote team members flew in the the Savannah office and we spent a week together doing a little work and a lot of play. We've designed them to land at the beginning of each quarter—which means we'll be kicking off each New Year together as a team! Everyone will be in Savannah next week as we start off 2016.

Additional Services

As our team has grown and evolved, we've gained new areas of expertise and skills. This has led to us enhancing existing services and offering a few additional services to some of our clients this year. As an example, we've taken our photography and videography chops from an internal-focus to some select clients. Over the next twelve months you'll start to see these services surface in additional projects and on our website as well.

Snapshot of Projects

What's a recap post without some snapshots of projects for this year? Here are a few projects we worked on and are able to share at this point. We've really loved our new and ongoing client partnerships and what we've created together in 2015.

Ending the Year on a High

Each week we have a full staff meeting we call our Roundtable. Our final Roundtable of the year was quite the event. We had a surprise gift card drawing where every team member got a gift card to things like Best Buy, Amazon, Macy's, etc. Then we had 6 bonus cards as prizes to various games. We also did our Secret Santa gift exchange which was really awesome.

The last thing we did though pretty much made my year at work. We went around one-by-one and shared our "favorite thing at work" from 2015. As we went around, a theme began to surface. We are all thankful for the opportunity to work with one another, at Focus Lab. I'm personally extremely grateful for each and every team member who was a part of 2015. I can't wait to dig into 2016 with this awesome crew!