Brilliant creative work starts with the germ of an idea, built out by a great design team.
But ideas don’t just emerge, fully expressed, into a welcoming world. Success hinges on brilliant execution— a good battle plan… how the great work gets produced, to ensure top-quality execution and a smooth landing.
I love the creative process, and I love seeing ideas being brought to life. But what I’m truly obsessed with is the middle part — how the work-in-progress happens. To be sure, success in this realm depends a great deal on a talented and dedicated team, and also discipline and good processes.
But a major facet of execution is also the tech — the tools used in the process of producing the work, and how they enable the flow of ideas and design and content iterations during the creative development process.
The toolkit is also a place where fails can happen, and this can go a couple of ways.*
For one thing, an organization might acquire a digital system, but it’s just the wrong tool for the job. I’ve written about this elsewhere. Another way it can fail is by complacency… when an organization ignores the great need for solutions that enables creatives and their stakeholders to collaborate.
This post is about the second: Neglect.
So many organizations just toss a couple of tools in the direction of their creative team (DropBox and a subscription to Slack) and call it a wrap.
But neglect won’t stop your creative team.
Your team will improvise. They’ll do what it takes to get the job done — even if it means using their personal accounts or a free or “lite” consumer-grade service. For example, I’ve seen a professional team of video animators using Vimeo as a place to store their best work, just so it could be easily viewed all in one place, shared, and later submitted for awards. I’ve known department administrators to set up Google docs in their own name, for the department calendars and spreadsheets. That’s just a couple of examples I’ve seen.
Ad-hoc tools might include:**
What are the risks? For one, mission-critical information or media can end up scattered across a universe of disconnected silos — email, instant messaging, posting files to an FTP site, a user’s personal drop box or cloud storage, or a consumer-grade video sharing site.
What if records of your marketing campaigns are stored on an employee’s personal Google Drive or Facebook account… and that person leaves? What if nobody can remember where the final version of their project files are from a crucial project done six months ago that just got renewed?
There are a number of well-supported systems available that serve this problem space. Choosing the right provider and system is a complex process. If this work was easy, we wouldn’t have such a thriving industry of consultants dedicated to assessing the unique challenges and specific needs of your creative organization, and offering up their advice on what to do, and how to do it. On top of that, there’s another tier of consultants waiting in the wings to help out with the implementation.
One great way forward is to take those experts to heart. Find a good one and let them come in and poke around your organization to get an idea of what you’re doing, and how you do it. Pay well for their sound counsel.
And consider that there is not and may never be one single digital tool to solve all the challenges facing the organization. But there are usage patterns and need themes that can be identified and met using strategic deployment of core tools.
Don’t leave it to chance. Organizations must develop a tech strategy based around the documented needs of their creative teams, supporting workflows with digital tools to optimize their work-in-progress and maintain control of their IP.
*(I’m not talking about desktop software tools such as Adobe Creative Cloud. That’s standard stuff and in most organizations it’s more or less up to date.)
**Products/vendors mentioned here do not imply any endorsement.