Creatives are prone to messiness – it’s science. In fact, according to a recent study published in the Journal of Psychological Science, “being around messiness [can] lead people away from convention, in favor of new directions.” Creative types across the globe will rejoice when reading the findings, “finally – an excuse to leave my desk just the way it is – a mess!”
In all seriousness, creatives have a unique approach to problem solving. And, as it turns out, their unkempt environment can actually trigger innovative solutions. Because it would be a disservice to require a rigid routine and reporting structure from your left-brained design team, it’s important to find common ground. Achieve cross-team efficiency by addressing the below reasons your creative team is always missing deadlines.
Answer: They’re trying to keep the process a secret
It’s no surprise that creative types like to hoard their work. Oftentimes, it’s easier for them to keep managers in the dark until the end of the project. In the grand scheme of things, this causes tension and conflict between departments. From the creative point of view: designers often feel like if they share their ideas, there will be an endless amount of critiques and miniscule, seemingly-pointless changes. From the account point of view: managers tend to become irritated by not knowing the status of their ongoing campaign. Knowing that creatives prefer to work in secrecy, how can you, as a manager, allow them the autonomy they desire, while also providing transparency to your account team? It’s a delicate dance. And the answer is simple: deadlines. At the beginning of a campaign set a minimal amount of hard and soft deadlines for everyone, and enter them into a tool with open visibility to the entire team. While it may be difficult for creative roles to stick to an entire, detailed process calendar, more often than not, they will respect a hard deadline and use it as motivation, a finish line.
Answer: They’re working in silos
It’s nearly impossible for creative directors at large agencies to keep tabs on what each member of their team is working on – there are simply too many moving parts. Usually, creative departments get segmented into role type. You’ll see small “creative departments” pop up inside of a larger agency – anything from social, digital, print, TV, outdoor and packaging could each end up with their own design team. This approach quickly puts team into silos, which are not effective when trying to keep everyone on the same page. The problem arises when your employees are unaware of the progress of a project because they are in their own little creative bubble. Switched the direction of your outdoor campaign and never told digital? Great, your designers now have to toss hours of work because they were never brought into the loop. A simple solution is to begin breaking down communication barriers by providing an overall, collaborative vision for the whole team to work towards. Once that vision or goal has been decided, most likely by the leadership team, it’s time find a way for the goals to be visible to everyone.
Answer: They don’t have the right tools
Creative potential can quickly be squashed by managers who are unwilling to provide their team the tools they need to succeed. Most creative teams are currently working in or on a singular platform and maybe even (kids, cover your ears) in spreadsheets. But with a more integrated solution, one that provides one-click access to an overarching, visual view of your monthly, quarterly and campaign-specific creative, you will be able to keep everyone on your team up to date. Even better: choose a tool the automatically integrates with the scheduling and design systems that your team is already using. This way, they don’t have to onboard any new software systems for the benefit of their managers. With the right tool, those who need orderly processes and a view into the artistic process will get what they need, and your creative team won’t feel stifled.
Don’t force your most influential visionaries to adhere to a company-approved process simply because it is comfortable for management. Instead, bridge the gap by addressing their unique set of needs. Make sure your creative team is armed with the appropriate communication channels, and content planning tools, and they’ll never miss a deadline again. The cleanliness of their desk, on the other hand, there’s not much hope for.