Time is Essential in Fostering Creativity

If you want ideas to evolve, you can't rush creativity. As a project or creative manager we need to be creative in how we manage the creative portion of the process.

In this site, you will find many tools and articles on how an ad agency needs to and how it does track time. Time is such an important part of the business. We charge for our time, we have limited time and we track time. In the agency world it seems we are all a little too time obsessed. However, unlike our nice and neat SOWs and time estimates, the time it takes for a creative idea to happen doesn't work in neat 4 or 8 hour blocks of time.  

Creativity doesn't happen in the continuous linear fashion that a project manager's Gantt chart would suggest.

In the last blog entry, we talked about how to manage your team during those times where there is no time. While those situations happen, you owe it to yourself, your team and your agency to not get to that point where every project is rushed and put together at the last possible moments.

At every stage of the process, there are things that we can do to help foster a positive working environment in which ideas are able to form and evolve.

First things first. 

 • Define the projects parameters. 

Allow the proper time for your strategy team to do its job. 

• Get that creative brief where it should be.
• Kick off the project the right way, with the actual team that is going to work on the project.

When you can, foster competition.

• Allow for multiple teams to compete for creative solutions.
• Allow for all members of the team, not just the AD and CW and CD to offer ideas.
• Have internal meetings to show initial ideas. Have several internal rounds before presenting.

Break the project parameters.

• In the right situation, don't be afraid of presenting and allowing alternative solutions to be presented to the client.
• Don't let your own judgement narrow your team's thinking possibilities. Stop and think before you limit.
• Research, research, research. Get the right team members (internal or external) onboard now to assist in seeing if that big idea can be done.

Give the creative teams a break in the timeline to work or think about other projects.

• Quality ideas require time for people to think. 
• Breaks in the idea thinking process allow for new connections to form.
• Get into the habit of thinking... Let them work, let the work sit, get them to work again, let the work sit. It's a rhythm that can sometimes can do two things; it gives the creatives a chance to recharge and reassess the work they've done and it also helps to lower the large amount of burn time spent on a project. 

Shake up the internal meetings.

• Think about who you can bring into each review meeting that may help provide new perspectives.

Allow for the idea to evolve.

Don't insulate your creative teams from your client.

• Let the team that worked on the work, present the work. It's there idea and can speak to it. If they are going to be responsible for creative changes, then they need the to benefit from hearing the client's comments directly.
• Talk to your team prior to presenting, make sure everyone understands what's expected.

Allow time for creative revisions.

• Did the client love it or just like it? Did they love it as is? And is that the way the creative team really envisioned it? If the client is only half buying the idea, spend the time to make it better.

Allow time for craft.

• A sketch, a storyboard, a script, a photoshopped comp are just ideas. Allow time for your production people to be able to produce the idea or concept. Allow time to find and hire the right artists, photographers or directors.
• Foster creativity during this time, even when you are tasked with keeping the project on track.
• The best work that gets produced during this time are true creative collaborations, between your creatives, production and your outside partners.

Lastly, every now and then, don't be afraid to let those special projects go over budget (and time).

• Those special projects are an investment that can lead to more business with existing clients and with potential clients.