Back to school….

September always has that new school year feel – sharpened pencils, clean shoes.

Partners, clients, suppliers are all finally around to make decisions. I was a bit late back this year - what with the indulgence of a late summer holiday in France.

But I am back now – and despite being away for just over a week I seem to have returned to a different climate, meteorological and business, as our Indian summer has dissolved in the rain, and I return to the joys of a packed Thameslink morning commute.

And yes the phone has started to ring again after a quiet summer, but not with its usual seasonal abandon, and the anticipation of a frantic autumn is already starting to dissipate as the depth of the economic malaise becomes clearer.

Which makes this school term a bit more challenging than others, but also strangely liberating –

We don’t often have time at this time of the year to think, to plan and to reflect on the  perfect storm post Covid of hybrid working, displaced Gen Z struggling to find their way in the workplace, staff shortages driven by an absence of visa-less researchers from the EU, a missing cohort of 2020 graduates, people exiting the industry for lifestyle reasons, clients finding their particular spot on a continuum from cautious trepidation to complete paralysis, whilst generative AI, apparently, threatens to sweep away whole sectors of our industry.

Or is this simply another small bump in the road that the benefit of time and distance will put into a healthier perspective.

I have been doing this a long time and have lost sight of the number of bumps along the way – but one thing is for certain. Sometimes we get tangled up in the research brief and don’t look hard enough for the business brief. What are our clients trying to achieve? – win customers, retain customers, cross-sell, upsell or maybe simply reduce risk – it is usually one of these. So this term’s project is RORI (Return on Research Investment).

Better sharpen those pencils.