How To Identify — And Fill — The White Space At Your Company


When you join a company, it’s likely that your employers see the potential in you to bring something new to the table that no one has brought before. What you may not have known is that you not only have the ability to help grow your own role and team, but also can make an even bigger impact at your company by looking for one thing: white space.

White space is essentially the unoccupied area (or areas) in your company in which no manpower, budget or authority is designated, the rules are vague (or just nonexistent) and there is a ton of potential to grow the company. The term can even refer to the areas of your particular industry that are underutilized and even undiscovered. For example, you work at an accounting firm and you notice that your company, and maybe all other accounting firms you know, aren’t using a special type of new coding equipment that could revolutionize the way accountants work. That, friends, is white space — the uncharted territory upon which you haven’t staked your claim… yet.

Here’s how to identify the white space in your company and in your industry.

1. Ask smart questions.

To find uncharted territory, you need to be asking the right questions. Start by asking what your company doesn’t have expertise in or offer that other companies in the industry might. Think even bigger by asking what your entire industry is missing, either in services, technology or even perspective. Turn these questions to your boss, leaders in your office, a professional mentor if you have one or — if you can swing it — your CEO.

2. Work with the right people.

Depending on how your office and team run, you may be able to work closely with major players at your company on a side project or presentation. If you notice someone who you don’t work with on a day-to-day basis and who you identify as a unique and innovative individual, grab coffee with them. You may be able to help identify the white space at your company by surrounding yourself with others who want to do the same.

3. Do a solo brainstorming sesh.

Unsplash / Armando Ascorve Morales

Brainstorming is always a great approach to generating new ideas. While your team likely brainstorms regularly on how to make your company even more successful, take a beat to brainstorm alone. Think about the ideas your team churns through and aspects of your company that those brainstorming sessions aren’t addressing.

4. Do the research.

Before you go into presentation mode with your new-found ideas on how to fill your company’s or industry’s white space, do some background research. Start with a simple Google search, then look through news, studies and surveys. You don’t want to show up at your CEO’s desk with a “genius” idea that has already been tried — and rejected — by other companies.

5. Take educated risks.

With your ideas fleshed out and research done, present what you have to your boss or any other leaders at your company. Implementing something that was otherwise unknown to your organization is a risk, but an educated one if you did your homework. If you can pull it off, you fill that white space in your organization, and maybe even reach beyond it.