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Trust & Authentic Feedback

In the book, “The Invisible Element: A Practical Guide for the Human Dynamics of Innovation,” Rosenfeld and Wilhelmi stipulate something that should make common sense to all of us that, “organizations don’t innovate, people do.” 

And it’s true, to be creative and produce something innovate means allowing people in your organization to be free to do so. Creating and sustaining innovation is very complex undertaking, and only happens when organizations provide the environment, resources and focus that will allow it to flourish (Rosenfeld & Wilhelmi 2011).

To allow people to use their talent, you have to give them a bit of free range to do so in environment built on honest to goodness trust. If we could name one factor that can kill a team, project and agency, I think it would be a loss of trust. If people don’t trust you, then you can forget about getting the truth, real communication, and honest progress reciprocated. 

Trust

Organic team development only begins to develop when people trust each other, and only grows when people share values and beliefs that drive positive team behavior. However, sharing values doesn’t mean that we lose our individual differences. 

When I trust some one, then I feel comfortable in sharing something with them, and when they trust me, they will share something back, then we are able to work together in a collaborative manner. Building trust at different levels is a common theme though out this book. From building an organization that has transparency at all levels to building organizational and individual values, to using our communication and listening skills to ensure understanding to building flexibility in what we do to working with our teams at the proper level. 

We all know the old saying, “Trust is hard to earn, but easily lost.” I know it sounds cliché, but authentic reciprocal trust requires an individual to take a personal risk and that’s not easy for some people to give. Once people lose trust in you, it can spread very quickly to other members of the team and the organization. So be yourself, be honest, communicate and be resilient. Have compassion for others but don’t be a push over either, push back when you need to. Minimize the unnecessary crap that your team doesn’t need to be involved with, but keep them informed through solid communication. Remember what you told people, and keep your word. Get to know people and how you can best motivate them, and look at for them.

Feedback

Working in a collaborative team environment, means that not only are people sharing ideas, but they are providing feedback.  I know it can be hard to give honest feedback (that’s not always job related)sometimes, but their are some rules that you should follow when giving feedback. 

As a manager and leader you are there as a servant for betterment. It is very important that when you give feedback, it with energy that is giving. Before you set out to give feedback, do your homework, prepare for what you are going to say and make sure its clean of negative energy and done with intention and presence.

Don’t be shy about giving feedback, it scares people when you are giving off odd body language or verbal hesitations. Giving feedback can sometimes be pretty hard to do, people can feel vulnerable. You aren’t looking to break trust, you are looking to build it. 

Watch what you say, when you say it. Don’t be an ass an make anything personal or bring up stuff the person did months ago. Make sure the feedback is timely and something the person can use to help them grow.

Try and give feedback in private, where it’s just you and the other person. No one wants to be given negative feedback in front of the group and the team. Help the person out by providing specifics, on ways that are what I call “strategies for working.” This way together you can both explore ways of improving together, and the person has gained new thinking in ways of tackling problems.

Be conscious of the way you are giving feedback, if you are an ass, then the person is not going to listen to you, the only thing they will remember is you being an ass to them, not that there was a problem that needed to be addressed. Providing feedback is not an easy task, but a place where trust can be easily lost. This is why you need to really think hard about the right way of providing feedback to the individual. Different personalities, requires you to frame your feedback in ways that are proper to them. Understand that not everyone will be open to what you have to say. 

Integrated Producers as Project Managers

Integrated production in creative land started out as merging the production of digital, broadcast, print and almost all other production into production department in the agency. This happened because many agencies shifted their creative philosophies, talent and structure to better orient themselves to create ideas unencumbered by specific media; agencies shifted their core principles to being media agnostic.

As agencies began to tear down silos, the transition to having one hub for managing production and project management made sense. Creative firms rarely find themselves working on one type of project anymore, and having one producer manage the content helped to coordinate the larger creative campaigns. 

Addressing an ever widening landscape of creative work

As we have moved to having multi-disciplined projects, the producer model allows a central project manager like person who has an understanding of everything that goes on. In the integrated producer model, you are more than likely going to have a team of producers who have the critical thinking experience needed to work across different disciplines, but may be an expert with a deep understanding of one or more unique disciplines. Having a team of producers allows you a group of key people who can handle not only a large diversity of work, but they can also collaborate and work off of each other’s specialities to get the best work produced as possible. 

The mentality of the producer is one that searches to solve problems, building teams in-house as well as outside the agency to do the impossible, to help wrangle complex scheduling and budgeting and negotiating and orchestrating a complex set of inter-related projects. 

The producer model can also be found in a production services company as well as on the digital agency side. Integrated production shifts the emphasis to looking at the big picture, with the thinking that producers will look to the best way of accomplishing a project. This was similar to how broadcast production companies used producers, as well as digital agencies who found themselves working directly with agencies.

The emphasis on who makes up the best integrated producer in agency has also changed. Many single silo’ed producers had a hard time making the switch to handle multiple platforms. However, integrated production is less interactive central now, as the diversity of platforms and creative, technology and content needs has changed.

Protecting Creativity

It’s okay not to have all the answers, but having a producer mentality focuses the energy into finding the answer. Now, the expectation is not that the producer knows every answer themselves, but can call on their peers, their team or help to bring in outside partners or artists that they can call on at any time to see the project through.

Improved Budgeting / Profitability

In this model, budgeting comes into line with the producer. The concept is basically to allow the team to focus on strategy and creative, with the producers sitting alongside. Together, with other agencies specialists (like a creative technologist) they will build out the budget and advise on what platform or ways that a client is going to get the most out of their budget.

When Integrated Production Makes Sense — Content, Content, Content

We no longer create on one platform anymore. How people consume content is changing, we are drifting away from the broadcast commercial model to content living simultaneously on second screens and smart devices. High quality creative content is still in demand, even as the way we are watching it has changed to on-demand culture.

How we are reaching audiences has changed, as well as the media mix. We may still communicate using traditional media, but we are now dealing with communicating with smaller audiences, in more unique ways, building content that is social and sharable friendly.

The “user journey” in the digital world has merged. The journey of the consumer can include, traditional media, digital, email, direct marketing, the retail space, social, experiential, event, loyalty & CRM programs. The integrated producer model helps to support an agency process that starts with a larger discovery period before getting to the conceptual stage.

Agencies have implemented the integrated model in a few different ways. However, more than likely, integrated agencies are going to be creating content that is story-driven and perhaps heavier on the immersive side.

Integrated advertising has changed in meaning through the years. But the intent is the same, to weave similar experiences through multiple channels, platforms, technology and touchpoints.

Integrated production and project management workflow is also driven by agency culture. Technology doesn’t drive decisions, creative decisions drive the technology.

Integrated driven agencies are also shifting where they look to build content. In both large and small agencies alike, you are seeing more agencies build internal production capabilities; from development, motion graphics, to shooting video, photography, editing and animation. Agencies are looking to respond to their client’s audience faster, and with more original content then ever before.

Depending on the agency, the team structure of integrated production can vary;

Integrated Producer (from SOW, content to end-to-end producing and project management)

Integrated Producer (SOW & Content Development) & Project Manager (managing day-to-day work and resource allocation)

Integrated Producer (SOW & Content Development) & Project Manger (managing day-to-day work and resource allocation) & Technical Lead or Scrum Master (overseeing development)

One of the reasons why integrated production came into being was because agencies and marketers are challenged with costs and efficiency. How do you create, commercials, print, digital, and social media content in a cost effective, but engaging way? 

However, the old model of “create once and reuse often” is being seen as somewhat limited. Content in today’s communications world, can get stale very quickly.  So even in the integrated producer model you are seeing new practices being applied.

Central to the integrated model is working within in teams, that cover a number of different channels. These team members are brought into the mix as the larger umbrella thinking progresses from strategy into discover and creative phases. Many agencies embrace the team structure in a semi-agile like manner, where teams work on the clients business and can react quickly to take advantage of cultural, technical or media opportunities. 

Agencies are also building internal teams that will work with the larger team model that have autonomy to quickly work on a client’s business to take advantage of timeliness.

Integrated production models can follow through on either type of advertising model, taking advantage of near-time as well as working in “big idea” environments.

What makes for a great integrated producer?

  • Being an integrated producer is very similar to being a creative project manager. In many agencies, the integrated producer is the project manager. 
  • You have to have a deep set of skills in one or more area, digital, broadcast, product, etc.
  • You have to be a good critical thinker who can realign teams on a heart beat.
  • You have to live and breath, creativity, design and innovation.
  • As a big agency hub, you have to fit into the culture seamlessly across all levels.
  • Client-facing skills
  • Find the best way to produce any given idea.

Integrated producers mean different things at different agencies and when they hire, they might be looking for different types of integrated producers to round out or fill in. Integrated Producers can live within an agency that has other internal processes as well, where interactive work is run with project management or with product / scrum methodologies.

Integrated Project Management Breakdown - Large Agency

Integrated Producer    Head of Technology    Project Manager

Client Kick-Off    Client Kick-Off    Client Kick-Off

Production Kick-Off    Production Kick-Off    Production Kick-Off

SOW Creation    SOW & Estimate Review    Estimate Creation

Production Methodologies    Technical Audit    Resource Allocation

Source Production Partners    Manage Development    Manage Schedule

Manage Partners    Manage Tech Partners    Project Execution

Production Review QA    Production Review QA    Production Review QA

 

Integrated Project Management Breakdown - Digital Agency

Integrated Producer    Tech & Creative Leads    Scrum Master

Client Kick-Off    Client Kick-Off    

Production Kick-Off    Production Kick-Off    Production Kick-Off

SOW / Estimate Creation    Story Points / SOW    Story Points / SOW

Production Methodologies    Technical Audit    Backlog

Source Production Partners    Manage Development    Manage Scrums

Manage Partners    Manage Tech Partners    Project Execution

Production Review QA    Production Review QA    Production Review QA

 

Integrated Project Management Breakdown - Team Based

Integrated Producer     Team

Client Kick-Off    Client Kick-Off

Production Kick-Off    Production Kick-Off

SOW / Estimate Creation    Story Points / SOW

Production Execution    Audits    

Manage Partners    Execution

Production Review & QA    Production Review & QA

Integrated Managers are tuned to managing cross-functional teams

Integrated producers act as project leaders of small groups of individuals that can cross both formal and informal functional departmental boundaries and levels of hierarchy. The teams are created by the integrated producer (who acts inconjunction with other producers to handle staffing resources) to commit to a common goal — typically formed for a project, program or by client for a finite amount of time; the team acts and works as one unit. They communicate frequently, cooperating and providing mutual support, coordinating activities, drawing upon and exploiting the skills and capabilities of each other, while considering the needs of individual members to meet the larger project goals.

Small cross-functional teams can have an advantage over other structures in an organization to accomplish a project than individuals acting alone or in a large, permanently structured hierarchy setting. The belief is that cross-functional teams, improve the quality of the outcome (by diversity of discipline) and become committed to see the project through to the end.

Cross-functional teams can be formed by producers in a number of ways.

  • They can stretch across all project phases and include, strategy, business analysis, project management, designers, creatives, developers or technologists to name a few.
  • They can work together as a unit full-time, meet once, or meet on a regular basis.
  • Cross-functional teams can network together in smaller groups.
  • Individuals in the team can bring in additional experts or network with the other specialists to bring back new learnings.
  • They can be directed by a project (or team) manager, be self-organized or have facilitated delegation of tasks.

When teams work in groups that are multi-disciplined, they can bring together a wide range of knowledge, experience and problem solving skills to the table that enable projects to be tackled with multiple perspectives and thinking. The value of cross-functional teams is that there is a greater depth and understanding of a wider range of perspectives to look at a problem.

To build cross-functional teams, firms need to support them not only on the organization level, but support them through the stages of team formation so 

Integrated Managers are tuned to managing cross-functional teams

Integrated producers act as project leaders of small groups of individuals that can cross both formal and informal functional departmental boundaries and levels of hierarchy. The teams are created by the integrated producer (who acts inconjunction with other producers to handle staffing resources) to commit to a common goal — typically formed for a project, program or by client for a finite amount of time; the team acts and works as one unit. They communicate frequently, cooperating and providing mutual support, coordinating activities, drawing upon and exploiting the skills and capabilities of each other, while considering the needs of individual members to meet the larger project goals.

    Small cross-functional teams can have an advantage over other structures in an organization to accomplish a project than individuals acting alone or in a large, permanently structured hierarchy setting. The belief is that cross-functional teams, improve the quality of the outcome (by diversity of discipline) and become committed to see the project through to the end.

Cross-functional teams can be formed by producers in a number of ways.

They can stretch across all project phases and include, strategy, business analysis, project management, designers, creatives, developers or technologists to name a few.

They can work together as a unit full-time, meet once, or meet on a regular basis.

Cross-functional teams can network together in smaller groups.

Individuals in the team can bring in additional experts or network with the other specialists to bring back new learnings.

They can be directed by a project (or team) manager, be self-organized or have facilitated delegation of tasks.

When teams work in groups that are multi-disciplined, they can bring together a wide range of knowledge, experience and problem solving skills to the table that enable projects to be tackled with multiple perspectives and thinking. The value of cross-functional teams is that there is a greater depth and understanding of a wider range of perspectives to look at a problem.

    To build cross-functional teams, firms need to support them not only on the organization level, but support them through the stages of team formation so that they can become effective groups.

We build Cross-functional teams so,

They share a common vision, and are committed to achieving a common purpose.

They share leadership roles as well as responsibility for processes, project progress and outcomes.

They are both individually and mutually accountable to each other and to their collective performance.

They agree on a common way of working, establishing rules of engagement with each other in how they will contribute to the team’s efforts.

Every member displays respect, trust and openness to each other, and encourage open communication, exploring each others ideas and have an active problem-solving approach that is transparent between all team members.

They are dedicated to doing the best job they can at all levels.

They can assess their own collective progress and work and will help each other to complete the final outcome.

The firm supports them with systems, structures and frameworks that allow them to work in this fashion.

The idea of establishing cross-functional teams is simple, it is to create a flat-structured way of working that ignores hierarchical structures and constraints. 

As the firm grows, you look to build additional dedicated and ad-hoc teams to scale your organization, without having the baggage of creating lots of unnecessary levels of hierarchy. 

Working in cross-functional teams creates a peer environment, where members can share their knowledge to improve the overall level of decision-making. Teams are meant to increase efficiency, as they can come together quickly, work and complete projects, they are not limited to a particular set of skills or roles and can be redeployed as projects come to completion.

Because the team has shared goals, the team shares in working towards achieving those goals. 

Integrated project managers play an important role in cross-functional team structures as well. They can help establish goals and help the team set priorities, a backlog of tasks and manage project constraints. They act as the main provider of information and can help the team seek out unanswered questions, or unclear information. They can help the team through the formation process, and analyze, measure and report on individual abilities, training or skill issues. They can also participate in creative team problem solving or conflict resolution and contribute their own technical or functional experience with the team.

The Power of Teams

The Power of Teams

How do we accomplish the impossible?

How do we make a big idea come alive? How do we make something that never existed before real? Everyone, will be asked at least once (although as project managers it seems like everyday), to make the seemingly undoable, doable. Under impossible conditions and overwhelming odds, we will be challenged to make crazy asks, happen.

In 1990, at the age of twenty-one, I was lucky enough to land my first job with a small creative marketing firm, where I was equally lucky enough to encounter my first mentor, Curt. Through the years, Curt would impart many, valuable lessons. He believed in creating a culture that support self-organized teams, where everyone was valued, contributed, played a role and helped each other to problem solve.

It was a collective of people that were united, passionate and full of energy. They loved to make stuff, whether for a client or themselves. It was that passion and constant activity that seemed to provide a never ending boost for everyone.

How Do We Adapt to Change?

How do we adapt to change?

Change is happening in every organization, across every department and in every geography. Change is not limited to self-defined creative organizations or innovative companies. During the past seven years, I have traveling across the USA and have spoken to organizations far and wide. Change is a topic that organizations all over the world are thinking about. 

Building Cross-functional Teams

A cross-functional team in a creative firm can take on many forms.

These teams are small groups of individuals that cross formal or informal functional departmental boundaries and levels of hierarchy. The groups are created to commit to a common purpose or goal, typically formed for a project, program or by client for a finite amount of time; the team acts and works as one unit. They communicate frequently, cooperating and providing mutual support, coordinating activities, drawing upon and exploiting the skills and capabilities of each other, while considering the needs of individual members.

Cross-functional teams are formed on the assumption that a small group is better able to accomplish a creative project than individuals acting alone or in a large, permanently structured setting. The belief is that cross-functional teams, improve the quality of the outcome and become committed to see the project through to the end.

It’s Easier to Demotivate than Motivate Creative People

In almost every discussion of how to motivate individuals, it’s inevitable that the discussion will turn to some form of reference to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This is a reference to a pattern that human motivations generally go through. For example, if someone’s basic needs aren’t being met, like their rent, we don’t motivate them by recognizing them with a fifty dollar gift card to Applebee’s.

Unless you know the person really well, it can be hard to determine where they are sit on the hierarchy and how to effectively motivate them. You have to get to know someone a bit to understand what’s the best way of motivating them. As their lives change, so does what will potentially motivate them. You might have a great worker one day, who seems to get motivated purely for doing challenging work, then one day they kind of shut down. We might think that they are getting bored, or don’t feel challenged any more. We may worry that they are now looking for a job.

The Ever Changing State of Creative Project Management

The Ever Changing State of Creative Project Management

Over fifteen years ago I started writing about creative agency operations. It started out as a necessity, to teach the people in the agency’s I worked for how to get work done. As a creative producer, I knew that if I taught people how to work together and get their act together, then I would gain time. Time to craft, time to get ideas made, time to do more with less.

It started out as a survival tactic. If I could teach everyone in the agency what was expected of them, then when it came to working outside the normal way of doing things, then people made rational decisions.

Together, we will figure it out and get it done. 

Agency Culture

Culture in an ad agency is unique to the place and the personalities of the people running the shop. There is the outward agency persona, and then there is the inward true cultural persona of the agency that we all work within.

WHY DO AGENCIES TRY SO HARD TO SHOW THEIR INNER WORKINGS?

Agencies are a business and the established distinctive culture of the place is there on purpose. For one thing, as a brand seeks a potential agency partner, they look for agencies that would be a good working relationship fit. An agency's culture is part of what the shop is selling to a client. It is part of the promise to the client, on what type of work they are going to get and how they are going to work together to get there. If the agency is all about ROI and analytics, think about the types of people and processes that would be in place as opposed to an agency that is known for design or an agency that is known for very out-of-the-box thinking...

When an Organization's Culture Goes Toxic

When an Organization's Culture Goes Toxic

Creative land can be stressful. 

We have deadlines, demanding clients, and people that we work with that can drive us mad. The terms "creative shop" and “sweatshop" are too often used interchangeably when it comes to describing certain work environments. Working late nights, on the weekends, or on vacation is considered normal. A creative career with a positive work-life balance is often very hard to come by.

Truth be told, many organizations value “the work” above all else. The work pays the bills and keep the clients coming. Too often, we forget that it's the people behind the work that make it happen.

As employees, I think we are pretty savvy when it comes to deciding where we work. We know ahead of time what we are getting ourselves into. You can bet we’ve googled the company and its leadership, and checked out the dirt on industry blogs. Our friends have told us about the environment, the recruiter used certain words to clue us in, and quite frankly, the company’s values are pretty much out in the open.

Being as S.M.A.R.T. A.S...

Being as S.M.A.R.T. A.S...

How do we get project managers to think beyond basic project goals? By remembering that creative assignments are a set of accomplishments beyond being on-time and on-budget.

One of the reasons why I hesitate on the "traffic manager" approach to managing creativity, is that if you ask any traffic manager (and albeit many project managers) what determines a project's success, you are going to hear the single repetitive mantra of "being on-time and on-budget." Traffic managers are good at getting things from point A to point B, fast, but that's because there is a set path. Deviations from that single path, however, can be hard on traffic managers, since they have high accountability for providing regular outcomes on just those two work activities. They don't always think beyond what is provided to them as project objectives.

Traffic managers are rarely given the responsibility or held accountable for a project's holistic goals. Since just like a production manager, they are only held responsible for only part of the bigger project. This is best shown, by the adaptive mantra of, "Pick two: Do you want it on-time, on-budget or good? You can't have all three." As far as measurable metrics go, these three variables are pretty poor. Who and what determines if a project is good or great? Good is a pretty subjective criteria to measure...

What Makes a Great Creative Project Manager?

What Makes a Great Creative Project Manager?

Recently, I attended a panel on project management as an audience member. One of the topics that kept coming up was, “What makes a great project manager?” I don’t think the panel ever fully got around to fully answering the heart of the question. 

Over the years, my project management style has certainly changed. But when I look back to when and where I was very successful, I can see certain patterns emerge. 

Beyond the Mechanics and Taskmaster

If you have ever taken a project management course, or worked on your PMP, you tend to focus on the mechanics of how to manage a project. How to create a scope, a project plan, identifying tasks, navigating process, risk, milestones and deadlines are all things that are taught and learned. Certainly these are skills are important to know, a strong foundation in the basics means you can apply these concepts.

Indeed, knowledge of the mechanics is often one of the key things people look for in a project manager. However, if all you did as a project manager was to apply these concepts religiously, you may find yourself in the role and style of a taskmaster. I think this is where a lot of company’s get it wrong. If you are all business, and driven by tasks, productivity and outcomes, you might find yourself driving people on your team away from working as a team.

I’ll give you an example. I remember when I started at a very well known creative shop. First day on the job, I had a very senior project manager come up to me and announce, “Hi, my name is ______, and I’m a bitch. Get use to it.” 

I raised an eyebrow, like I tend to do, and I thought to myself, wow — great first impression, I bet everyone just loves to work with you.

From the outside, upper management thought she was one of the most productive people in the company. And yes, this person got stuff done. This person valued outcomes and this is what management saw, and by providing positive feedback she felt empowered.

So yes, this person got stuff done, but bullied everyone along the way. Did anyone want to work with this individual? No, this empowered person, lacked empathy. While this style may push work through, it wreaked havoc on the creative teams. While this individual may have completed things on time, if you compared this person’s projects with other project managers, you would see some significant differences...

Producers vs Project Managers in Today's Agency - Revisited

Producers vs Project Managers in Today's Agency - Revisited

When it comes to managing how work gets done organization wide, advertising agencies are anything but typical when it comes to workflow & process. Part of what makes an agency special (besides the people that work there) is the agency's approach to how they create work. It’s also driven in part, by how the agency tries to carve out a unique place for itself among the hundreds of agencies in at the marketplace.

In the past, we often identified agencies by either being account or creative driven. Now, however, we identify agencies in dozens of different ways from being creative, account, digital, data-driven, interactive with varying 360° experience, a general agency with varying degrees of interactive experience, to name just a few. This fragmentation of focus and company values has lead to a greater variety in workflow paths among agencies.

As experienced managers we know the dangers and pitfalls of having a workflow process that leans toward one of these extremes. It's no wonder that many agencies are re-examining project management and redefining traditional roles within the agency. In the quest to better manage our agencies, we are tearing down traditional silos to create cross-functional teams, but on the opposite end we are also creating new digital silos with technical teams that seem to have a narrower creative function...

Building Your Agency's Integrated Engine

Building Your Agency's Integrated Engine

Your agency's engine has a dual purpose. First, it needs to be able to drive your agency to develop creative solutions and innovations for you and your clients. Second, your engine is the heart of how you get your team to those solutions. Without out a reliable, and strong engine that can keep up with the evolution of advertising, you may find yourself running out of gas and stuck on the curb.

One of the main reasons why I started this site was to not only share the basics of process and workflow — to provide a starting point in defining what goes on during the creative process — but to make the case that the way an agency operates is a vital, strategic part of the business model.

Throughout the site, you are going to find a variety of ways of doing things, most of it centered around the basics, to help you evaluate what parts you may need to build your own unique agency model. This definition process, I think is vital to help you define and develop your own practices for your own specific agency...

Building Presence on the Creative Playing Field

Building Presence on the Creative Playing Field

On any given weekend, you may find yourself watching a game. In my house, the sport of choice, both watched and played on the weekends is soccer. As with any team sport, each member of the team needs to work together in order to score a goal. Every member of the team has a particular role but plays with an intricate underlying knowledge of who's on the field and where they are. Some play offense, some defense, but they have enough knowledge and ability to fill a gap if a player needs help. They work together passing the ball forward, backwards and sideways to keep possession of the ball and ultimately to score a goal.

Creativity is also a team sport. The art of solving creative problems requires thinkers, makers and builder to come together to solve business strategies by executing ideas that resonate emotionally and designed for you and me. Project managers along with strategists, creatives, and technologists all play different roles on the field, but the best teams are made up of individuals who not only play well together, but complement and support each other in developing ideas.

If you ever watched a soccer game, every now and then you'll see a player seemingly come out of nowhere and make a play, taking away the ball, acting as interference, blocking or shooting for a goal. It can seem like the reaction was almost instantaneous, and can have the direct effect of changing the tempo of the game. All of a sudden the ball is on the other side of the field, just one more kick a way from making a goal.

In order to be that individual, who can see all the players on the field, the hundreds of variations on where the ball can be kicked or passed to, and be the player to arrive at the exact instance in time where you are needed most is called having field presence. It is the ability to see through all the extraneous distractions, analyze what needs to be done and then act. 

While this is especially true of team leaders, anyone on the team can have field presence. However, as a team leader or project manager or producer, it can be an invaluable skill. As someone who may have played sports, or have been on a creative team, I bet you already know what I'm talking about, or at least you've seen someone utilize this skill in the real world. While this can be a natural ability, everyone can improve their own field presence skills. To give you some idea on how you can gain field presence, I'm going to walk through some project management framing questions that can not only help you in managing projects, but help to develop your own project management presence...

The Integrated Team Model

The Integrated Team Model

The integrated model for agencies is focused on building collaborative teams to strategize, come up with ideas, make, execute, and evolve creative projects together. It is a more dramatic way of tearing down silos in an agency. While all agencies have their own core business model, these diagrams show how a small team can be built to work together in a design thinking "like" environment. Successive slides show how the team can work with the larger agency group.

The idea is, as you move out of the core, you either bring in new players to the team, or the team members themselves use their "T" shaped knowledge of their core function. This also means that the entire team can share and exhibit strategic multi-discipline views on a creative problem.

Please feel free to comment and share your thoughts. In the upcoming weeks, I will be adding to the diagrams.

The Creative Brief - An Exercise in Soft Values Between Client & Agency.

The Creative Brief - An Exercise in Soft Values Between Client & Agency.

If you do a quick google search on creative briefs, you’ll find hundreds of articles online. I think this is a testament to how hard it is to write a good brief, since the development of the brief, is as much a part of the creative process as thinking of ideas to answer the brief itself. The creative brief is meant to be the culmination of all the research and strategy completed, an understand of the client’s business, an understanding of the audience and a framing of the goal of the communication – in addition to uncovering the truths and insights about the emotions and behaviors surrounding the brand, consumer and cultural relevance. It's a lot to think about. However, a good creative brief is also meant to spark inspiration while guiding your team through the constraints of objectives, how and where you may engage, and hypothetically how much time and budget is suppose to be spent. 

It’s a tall order to create a good brief (and one that is brief). It is no wonder that many briefs, to put it mildly — suck.

We expect clients really do want to engage agencies for their creativity and innovation, as well as the tactical application of strategy. However, sometimes clients get more caught up in a tactical approach to defining projects (writing a 12 page essay chock full of business objectives and must haves) than actually engaging agencies to do what they do best – think...

Managing the Creative Process & Integrated Project Management

Managing the creative process is more than just setting and following the rules of typical project management procedures. As a creative industry, you would think that agency's would be better at identifying that the reason for tension and conflict is often created by the formality and rigidness of processes that we put in place to help us be more efficient.

I often look back at my time working at both small agencies and startups with great nostalgia. For those of us who have spent time in similar small organizations, we know what it's like to have that small company, "we can get done," team spirit. Or at least what's it like to work with your slightly awkward extended family.

In small agencies, you often get the impression that very little formal project management is in place. While that's most likely true, what you do feel is that people often feel invested in common goals and that they really believe in the philosophies that founded the agency. In a way, small agencies do act as one very large cohesive team, even though they seem dysfunctional at times. At a small shop, everyone usually knows what's expected of them, what the goals are, how to get the work done, where they want the agency to go, and what they want from the experience. If you had a problem, people talked and communicated. If something was outside of your job, you still felt you could contribute and be appreciated...

Managing with an Open Mind, Balance & Humility

If you work in advertising, you know the work can be stressful, filled with last minute changes, long hours and strong egos. There are risks in managing creative projects that are unique to this business. Having spent my formative years in production, the pressure always seemed amplified. If you throw in a hierarchy of creative approvals that extends up the chain at both the agency and the client, managing outside production and ever changing technology needs, you find yourself constantly facing and managing the unknown. 

I think keeping an open mind has helped me to not only to manage the unknown and become a better leader, but also aids tremendously when things go wrong...

Shape Organizational Change Through Cultural Development

Big changes in an organization start by identifying the core values that make up your company's culture and which new values you want to incorporate. This set of values acts as the foundation that your company will use to identify and map out the key beliefs that you want everyone in the organization to embody. These core values are the underpinnings of decision making, as a group they let people know the right and wrong ways to behave in the organization. They identify not only what it means to be successful as an individual in the company, but will guide the organization as it maps out a way in which the entire organization will run and face change...