A sound understanding of what it is to do creative work and get the job done is vital for team health and long-term client relationships.
In Agency land there's often a propensity to overcomplicate and mystify the creative process. There are two main reasons I’ve seen people do that:
That can be a lack of confidence in an individual or team’s ability to deliver. Alternatively, it can be a lack of confidence in knowing/implementing the process to achieve what they’ve said they’ll do. Either way, mystifying the process can seem like a good plan if you aren't confident. That's because it feels like you can get the time/space to work everything out before going back to the client with a 'perfect' solution.
For clarity when we’re talking about mystifying, I mean.
It's dangerous to mystify the process for two reasons; 1. it would make us hard to work with and 2. it would devalue our work.
It would make us hard to work with because no one likes working with someone that doesn't conform to the standard rules of work. I.e. works to deadlines, justifies thinking, provides evidence etc.
And, it would devalue our work because it is impossible for anyone to see the value in the actual effort. The only observable value is the result. What we need to be showing is the process and thinking that makes solutions 'right' for our clients. If all a client can see is the results of your work, then they can only compare it to other outputs. At which point, you look poor value compared to a cheap stock template off of the internet that also 'looks great'.
The biggest way to combat mystification is to remember that creativity is a job.
A job that you turn up to, you prepare for, you train for and ultimately, work you complete.
Training and preparation give us the confidence to present and justify our work.
In one of our most loved books, Design is a Job by Mike Monterio; he talks about why presenting design is so important:
"Stop trying to get your clients to 'understand design' and instead show them that you understand what they hired you to do. Explain how the choices you've made lead to a successful project. This isn't magic, it's maths. Show your work. Don't hope someone 'gets it,' and don't blame them if they don't - convince them"
At Brightec, we express everything above as 'Getting the Job Done'. That's a phrase I impress upon myself and upon those with whom I work. Notice it's 'getting' as in it is active, rather than the command 'get'. It's not a phrase that we use to beat each other with, but rather a slogan to encourage our confidence. We want to promote each other's belief in our ability to see a design or development through. Believing that we do have the process and experience to face the creative challenges we call work.
In fear of repeating myself… If you work in any role that could be classed as ‘creative’, then absolutely go and read the book Design is a Job by Mike Monterio. However, I should warn you that it is a little on the sweary side.
(This post is part of a series exploring the principles that have helped shape the creative teams I have worked with, as well as myself. Click here to read them all.)
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