Talking tech since 2003

Many of us have looked with incredulity at the setup of offices such as Google and Valve, titans with their related software spaces. We know that Google’s offices are decked out with playful and tongue-in-cheek items, such as a fireman’s pole that allows access to the floor below, slides, hanging chairs, a massive canteen area and of course, bean bag chairs for comfortable laptop use. Valve are also known to have a massive sweet and confectionary catering environment, which they must spend a good amount of their office maintenance budget on.

Yet a creative business requires more than a few bean bag chairs. In fact, it’s more the function, not the form that makes a difference here. As a leader trying to instill more hope and pride in your employees, while also retaining this artistic integrity and to encourage lateral thinking, you may wish to copy these examples. Yet we would also recommend the following best advice to this end.

You’d be surprised just how effective this process can be.

Lateral Thinking

Lateral thinking is an important part of any creative project. However, it’s essential for this to be put in practice. Sessions in which members of your team sit in a circle and communicate, projects in which they are given their own interpretation on a brief or the ability to consult with a client based on what they might vaguely want as you mold that into shape will all require this, and can help train it.

Lateral thinking is the willingness to try something new. For example, if in a sound production studio for the local film industry, it might be that experimenting with new investments and props to create the sounds needed will require a budget for the procurement department to satisfy the needs of said business. A major story recently released from the video game industry shows that in recent ‘Halo: Infinite’ development, the ‘alien’ sounds required for the final project were being generated by the use of a pug dog, which they would later pitch down and add effects too. This is not standard industry practice, but they had a bright idea and they ran with it.

In order to move forward with this kind of immediate and wonderful planning, you also need to consider:

Surfacing Great Ideas

If your business fails to remain friendly to great ideas, there’s going to be an issue. Surfacing the best ideas you have requires time and patience, and it can also help you stay open to interpretation. The creative ideas of someone at the bottom rung of your business might be just as powerful as someone who is the creative lead, although of course, the latter will make that judgment call.

Additionally, this creative lead need not listen to the ideas of everyone. But they may wish to skim over them or at least be open to listening to some. For example, consider a videographer’s studio. It might be that the lighting technician has a better idea of how to secure a practical result, despite what the director of photography may think in that moment. If you have a culture of oppressive silence during the idea generation phase, then there’s going to be an issue. Executing the decided-upon plan is another thing entirely, but during this stage, it could be that allowing the best ideas to be communicated, reported and listened to at the top can make the most difference through and through.

Sticking To The Norm

Staying optimistic is an essential part of moving through plans that may or may not work. As an owner of a creative business, you will know that creativity cannot be forced. This is why crafting an environment in which this kind of cohesive planning and idea generation comes natural is important, rather than relying on skeptical or pessimistic systems to ensure only one person’s ideas are ever considered.

However, all this talk about idea generation and the need to enforce a democratic process can bring you away from how leadership actually works and is sustained in a business process. Sticking to the norm of business insight can be a fantastic means forward. For example, if you have many shoots or other placement jobs ongoing, field service management may help you just as well as it may help management teams cohesively attend to the most pressing matters of the day.

Throwing out any and all business insight and timeless wisdom is similar to an art-school student neglecting to study the greatest painting techniques because they do not wish for ‘their style’ to be influenced. This is frankly silly, and not a small amount of naive. If you can understand this, you will understand just how important realizing you are a business process before a creative outlet first will be.

Developing Cohesion

Developing cohesion between your departments in the collaboration and execution stages of the projects you are running is essential. For example, client acquisition must speak well to your creative leads, and your creative leads must be able to apply regular budget and cost analysis to those who will procure the items necessary for the task. This can also help you schedule out the time needed for a particular project, helping you deliver on time and stay accurate from the planning to the polishing stages.

This means that supplying all staff with excellent IT systems for instantaneous communication, mobile work devices that are available and allow for consulting, photographers and event planners that are able to get the realistic size and proportion of a location down or perhaps a support team able to liaise with your clients every step of the way. It’s not about how you approximate the most creativity, but how you can apply this, and how every node of your business ‘brain’ communicates with one another to achieve this.

This also means apply the beautiful art of dispelling arguments or understanding what might lay at their core, and feeling confident enough to move forward to the best result despite challenges that are faced. Team cohesion also means your staff encouraging one another, of being appreciative and giving credit where credit is due. A creative project is no place for frayed tensions and mutual passive-aggressive harm, because this can cause a real problem for your process.

Employee Proposals

It’s not going to be a possibility all of the time, but sometimes, allowing all of your staff to make their proposals heard can help with amazing results. For example, it might be that you are given the reigns over a governmental marketing campaign which aims to improve awareness of the harms of littering. Perhaps a boring project you might think, so you turn over the potential idea generation to your entire team, with the best idea winning out and being credited to them.

It’s measures like this that can not only help you understand your best way through a project, but it even allows non-creative staff to feel as though they might have an input. By that, we mean a support agent who may never get to touch the creative process throughout the week suddenly has an outlet to potentially offer their great ideas. This might even help you understand what talent is being unused, or how you may further specialize certain staff.

Enhance Accountability

We often think that creativity is freeing, but often, it can be harder to deal with this than many other straightforward business processes. It might be that ensuring employee accountability can be an important measure. For example, not verifying a certain direction with a client ahead of time, not paying attention to the intended audience, equipment that is incorrectly used or perhaps even adhering to your own creative freelancing hours will all require a strict discipline to achieve. Creative businesses are often more formless and vague in what they hold as a USP to draw certain clients. This means that your operation needs to run with military efficiency so that you have the most competent understanding regarding how to proceed here.

It’s measures such as this that can help you overcome your bad habits, while preventing harmful team cohesion or alienating customers based on how you respond to briefs. Additionally, this can help you avoid holding ideas above your station, which are frequently known to give you a bad reputation from the offset.

Professional Development

We must never think of our creative professionals as a finished project. Tattoo artists, who hold excellent skill to have this confidence in the first place, always practice their art and remain falling in love with the craft. The more you can arrange for this to happen and to invest in the training to allow skills to blossom further, you will find that your staff are always growing assets, and this will have a direct and essential impact on your firm’s reputation.

With this advice, you are certain to apply yourself to your creative business planning cohesively, rather than making a simple investment in bean bag chairs.

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