I have to find a working process

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Processes. In theory, is the goal of developing a working processes to improve the way of doing something. To just do something better and / or in larger quantities with being more eficient. Not necessarily in that order or combination.

And when we talk about delivering of creative work within an agency, no matter what type it is, we also talk about processes. Or at least, the attempt to implement it, engage people to adopt and make it work.

But why am I talking about the process?

Last week I finished one more project of Hyper Island, the module was: Running a Creative Business. We assembled three groups of 10 and each group had to be a creative business, with real briefs, the challenges of acquiring clients, win pitches and of course organize ourselves to make it all happen. Part of this module was designed to structure what would be the work processes of this agency, how to organize the team for decision making, what would be the format of the execution of the work and how presentations to the clients would be carried out.

We had another workshop on Self-Leadership and a lively lecture on Agile Scrum (until then I did not know). We tried for 4 weeks to implement processes in a structured way to organize our working method. And we could not. In this aspect we failed, however a board was created and leaders were chosen.

You may be thinking that the project was a failure but, infact it was the opposite, our agency was a success: Twenty Eight Mayflies.

We had customers who submitted briefs by e-mail asking for projects, we presented work for clients here in Manchester, Amsterdam and New Zealand. We won the Branding competition, a surprise pitch to launch a new TV series and we were nominated here as “Creative Business of the Year – 2012″.

The question I asked during my reflection was: to what extent was this result impacted (or not impacted) by the absence of super-structured processes?

I assume that I am not an enthusiast on the step-by-step processes and am definitely not a fan of the question: “How would you define your way of thinking?”. I do not think formulas are a better approach to creative processes and find it funny when people are surprised that this kind of thinking comes from a planner. I don’t have a thinking process that applies to all the briefs I work on, and I believe that I “define” my way of thinking / working that I’ll never get away from it and it will become my karma.

What we had in our agency moments where we tried to get everyone on the same page, to visualize where the boat was going, so-called moments of “Check”. As the project was short, we had to perform “Checks” with a certain frequency, so we had:

. Check-in – every morning: before we start working: expectations about the day and issues to be solved;

. Check-ups – after lunch: issues that need to be solved by the end of the day and rearrangement of work when necessary;

. Check-out – end of the day: what were done, feelings about how was the day and expectations about the next one.

Does highly structured processes work? It depends. Does “organized chaos” process work? It depends. In my point of view, the processes need to be seen as something to be undermined and deconstructed.

“The usefulness of the process is the establishment of mental models, not the bureaucracy,” Ana Paula Cortat.

I believe that was essential in this project, we were aligned with the culture that we had built for the agency and the goals we wanted to achieve in those four weeks. The whole team walked into the same direction and unstructured process gave us freedom to be who we are, to work in the way each one thought was best, sharing our individual mental processes.

My experience made me even less enthusiastic about processes and further advocate for a common culture with shared goals for the team. I agree that the challenge of finding a way of working to share with your team is huge and deserves close attention. The hours spent in our “checks” were essential to our success, and yet did not take our freedom.

I ended up believing in: hours spent on processes that do not impose yourself on how formulas work but help everyone to see the path being walked by the team.

What is your reflection on the working process of your team? Share it: priscila.cortat@hyperisland.com

Someone asks me to turn into a leader

The subject of the last workshop I attended here in Manchester was leadership, specifically the search for skills and behaviors that make us  transformational leaders. According to Leithwood, the definition of transformational leaders is a facilitator in redefining the mission and vision of people. This leadership is a relationship of mutual stimulation, which converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into agents of transformers values. Much has been said and written about this subject and I have a huge list of sources, in case anyone is interested. I will not delve into the definition of the term or history, I want to share my reflection on the leadership of our daily lives.

In search of leading processors, we had to remember someone who was part of our lives and inspired us positively. Try to do this exercise as well. What types of behaviors did this person have? What characteristics do you admire at the moment? Remembering these characteristics and behaviors we could define which of them we would like to have as a leaders or admire in the people that could work with us.

We got to our interpretation of the term, transformational leader, is one who can first be a leader of himself, and consequently an agent of transformations, of something really big or tiny. It has no relation with the position held or hierarchical leadership. It’s almost a state of mind that generates a behaviour that looks for effective changes. And it was here that I began my reflection. As a planner, I heard many times that part of my goals is to inspire the client, inspire the creative team, inspire the consumer, inspire the account manager team… And part of this whole exercise of inspiration, in my point of view is our attempt to be transformational leaders, trying to inspire change, trying to encourage new and more strategic behaviour.

We spend much of our time planning how to inspire all those people. And I asked you a question: are we spending part of this time inspiring ourselves or inspiring those who sits beside us every day and is part of our team? One of the key points of transformational leadership is to act according what you say. Looking at the experiences I’ve had so far and talks with my strategic planner friends, I had the feeling that just few of what we say is actually what we are doing within our teams. And, will we be able to be agents of change if we fail to inspire those who are already in search of inspiration, we strategic planners?

I am searching for experiences that could guide in the learning of how to become a leader and would definitely start trying to inspire those who are beside us every day. More than being hugely enjoyable to work with a team that feels inspired to go further, I believe is a great way to test behaviors, techniques and processes of leadership.

To close I want to share that in my memories exercise, that I mentioned earlier, I shared my experience of working with Rita Almeida, who was for me an incredible example of transformational leader who inspires the team all the time, with small actions all day. I know that I have the power to choose what I kind of leader I want to be, in this reflection I choose  that I want to be a Rita. 🙂

A little more about reflections: in Hyper Island, the exercise of reflection has two parts, one individual and one to share, always in the first person in singular.

So what is your thinking about leadership? If you want to share: priscila.cortat@hyperisland.com

I have to reflect

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I am part of the first class of Master’s Degree from Hyper Island in Manchester and one of the things we learned here in the first week is how to reflect. Or rather, this is one of the things we’re trying to learn from the first week. So far it has been somewhat difficult.

Very early we are conditioned to learn, learn fast and as much as we can. And in the era of information, the data-sexuals decade, this becomes even more intense. We turn ourselves into heavy consumers of information, trying to learn more and more things, in our eternal hunger for knowing about everything. We have been having access to more content, more tools to organize them, more ways to cross and understand them. In real time, if you want.

Individually, over the last few years I’ve been trying to organize the data sources in my lifelong. I’m in Delicio.us creating stacks, I use Pocket all the time, I have at least 12 folders of bookmarks in my Chrome, I was addicted to Google Reader until the anxiety about unread links drives me crazy and now I’m using Feedly as often as possible. All these tools to try not lose one piece of information, to not miss any important data or item that needs to be read.

But since my class at Hyper started I have asked a question: How often I’m really thinking about what I’m reading? Have I managed to put meaning in all this huge amount of information?

All the time, we are trying to digest the daily news, the trends of the year, the macro-trends for the next five years, the apps of the week, the functionalities  of new tools.  But I feel that we have reflect very little about the impact of that in our lives, in the lives of people that we are trying to understand during the our projects, in different societies. The anxiety for the consumption of information does not give us time to think deeply about anything.

We’ve learned more about a process of reflecting and  learning with experiences. The reflection moments allows us to put meaning in which we live, it gives the brain time to make connections that we don’t do in our busy day-by-day lives, anxious to read more or start another project.

I feel that we have became mere consumers of words and meaningless concepts. Shifts may be undergoing beaten in our eyes because we have too much to see.

I’ve started to give myself more time to reflect on the content that I have consuming and have asked more often about the real meaning of them.

In my busy days, being occupied for at least 9 hours of Hyper Island, everything I have achieved is only with a few minutes to do it, beyond our days especially reserved for the practice of reflections. But surely we still need to understand the importance of that time, that is not wasted but invested in the search for deeper insights, work processes more efficient, meaningful lives.