One of the first things that we need to start a project is a project proposal or a brief. Most projects don’t achieve anything close to their potential because either their briefs are too prescriptive or the people working on the project are not fully immersed in the project.

I recently watched a video created by Bassett & Partners where they interviewed some stellar creatives from the advertising industry to understand what they thought about brief’s that they get as creative professional – what works and what doesn’t.

I think that what is applicable to advertising agencies and brands is as applicable to all of us who want to start a project and work with a team.

My notes from the conversations about what makes a brief a great one is as below:

  1. Great briefs are not like handcuffs or railroad tracks – meaning they shouldn’t be too restrictive
  2. Great briefs are conversation starters and great starting points
  3. Great briefs are short form communication tool to show the clarity of purpose
  4. Great briefs are concise and have a sharp point-of-view about the problem you want to solve
  5. Great briefs are open statement of ambitions – with passion and conviction
  6. Great briefs provide a lot of room or runway, so the team can take off
  7. Great briefs are statements of dreams but with a deadline
  8. Great briefs are a short form communication that at best is a provocation.
  9. Great briefs answer the question – why are we doing this and how does this matter
  10. Great briefs inspire us – they ask us to go down a path that seem audacious and impossible.

So, if you look at these characteristics, one thing that stands out is that the great briefs are exactly that – BRIEF.

They are strikingly similar to a commander’s intent – a way that the army commander communicates with his army. According to Wikipedia, A Commander’s intent is an intent describing military focused operations and it is a publicly stated description of the end-state as it relates to forces (entities, people) and terrain, the purpose of the operation, and key tasks to accomplish. It is developed by a small group, e.g. staff, and a commander.

I think as leaders, if we are able to remember this and create briefs that allow the teams to be inspired and bring in their full creativity to play, we will see that the projects that we initiate have a much better probability of turning in fabulous results, results that even we wouldn’t have expected to achieve.

So, let’s give our teams briefs that unleash their creativity and unlock the potential for greatness in each project that we start.

You can watch the video that led me to these insights below: