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: firstname.lastname@example.org