Lean into the white space

The white space… (Photo credit Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash)

I don’t want to tread on anyone’s toes

This is a common anxiety people have. It might come from high-considerateness on a personal level, or low-connectedness on an organisational level, or just having been burnt before by finding that a great project you’ve been working on suddenly “belongs” to someone else.

So what do I do?

Talk to more long-serving colleagues first. Get the backstory on whether this work was ever done or tried, and what happened to it. Talk to your manager about where the work might live, and whether there are any wider organisational issues that stand in your way. If the goal is personal development and you really want to be hands-on, this is also a nice way to get informal feedback about how that might be received. But more broadly, getting the idea out there and approaching it with curiosity is the best thing you can do for trying to clarify the situation and inspire change, whether or not you end up leading it.

It’s not worth bothering

This is probably the biggest demotivator for people naturally inclined to lean into white space. And it normally comes about because work in the white spaces goes unnoticed and unrecognised, or is embraced for a few days and then put to one side. If something that you value isn’t valued by the organisation, that can put your relationship with your manager and your employer on shaky ground. Not to mention undermine your self-confidence.

  • What would it achieve? What are the tangible outcomes for clients/customers/the bottom line?
  • How essential is this work to you?
  • What is the worst possible outcome of doing this work, for you and for the organisation?

So what do I do?

Your first instinct might turn out to be right, and it’s not worth bothering. But that’s a sign of a bigger issue and another white space you might be able to lean into.



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EDI consultant and project manager; Transformational and career development coach; Writer of many things; Runner. In no particular order.