Saturday, June 21, 2014

Step by Step—Analysis of a Creative Team

The bottom line wake up call for any creative team:

Drive the bus, or get thrown under it!

It is always an epiphany to walk into a creative department with fresh eyes and discover just how things get done. So many competing creative agendas and hidden pressures come to bear in the process of delivering dynamite creative.

The first thing I look for is:
• Strengths and leaders
• Creative potential
• Dysfunctional processes
• Communication whirlpools

These are the definitions of core proficiencies for any creative department, whether in-house or hired agency.

Let's take these one by one to clarify:
• Strengths and leaders:
In a creative setting I would have to say strengths fall into four main categories—creative, communicative, strategic, executive. So—make a report card for those four things and give an objective score under each heading. Take note of the leaders in each category, they can help reinforce their own strength and play a part in cross-training the entire team.

• Assess Creative potential:
Let's be honest about the creative potential.
Are the writing and the design in sync?
Is there a free flow of fresh ideas or are the same solutions recycled?
Is the solution seen as a fire that needs to be extiguished?

Make your observations pointed here, develop a constructive feedback loop to reveal old habits. Do so with a sense of humor, and coach a new attitude toward creative thinking for everyone on the team.

• Dysfunctional processes:
Diagram the process for a creative project together as a group, not how it should be at first, but how it really is in the current state.

This open discussion of the creative process has probably never taken place before, and a good mediator can bring out the gems from the participants that makes consensus a group experience.

• Communication *whirlpool:
How does the creative team communicate amongst themselves? How do they communicate with their “clients”? *Whirlpools exist when two or three team members function as the communicators—a whirlpool.

Assumptions get made about their responsibility for getting the word out.
It is wise to assign communications across the entire team. Everyone is responsible for clarity of communication.

It is important that they are straight forward across all constituencies to be effective. Your creative team is responsible for how well thing go, not the client, not the copywriters, art directors and production staff. The best scenario—the creative team expands to include all involved as long as the project is live.

* A whirlpool—communications never get beyond two or three in a select
group of communicators.