Despite common perception, organisation and creativity don’t have to be mutually exclusive.
But in creative agencies – where teams juggle multiple clients with constantly changing demands – forward planning and prioritisation can seem impossible, and chaos is often the norm. For some, disorder is even seen as the necessary price of creative freedom and success.
This attitude, however, locks teams into an endless cycle of inefficiency. Interrupted every 3 – 7 minutes on average, creative workers barely have enough time to devise one concept before their attention is diverted to another project. And that’s not to mention the fact jobs are shown to take as much as 40% longer when multitasking.
To stay competitive in the fast-paced digital world, agencies must balance efficient production and originality by bringing some vital structure to creative chaos.
"jobs are shown to take as much as 40% longer when multitasking"
Breaking the assumption barrier
Agencies are facing several challenges that could be tackled with more streamlined operations. Growing competition from every direction — rival agencies and in-house creative teams — is making it vital to produce innovative work that sets them apart. Meanwhile, the rising value clients place on speed means new ideas must be delivered quickly, with 77% of global CEOs committed to driving revenue through slicker processes.
But concerns around the potential consequences of bolstering operational efficiency continue to block progress. Though aware that the efficiency ideal of swift yet high-quality delivery could boost client satisfaction, agencies fear increased focus on fine-tuning workflow might steer teams away from what matters most: creative work.
It’s time to set those misperceptions aside. Instead of hindering innovation, smarter project management tools and techniques can enhance creative output and quality. As long, that is, as agencies follow three key efficiency rules:
1. Slow down to speed up
Being busy isn’t the same as being productive, and for many employees, covering too many bases is a one-way ticket to burnout. In fact, recent US Digiday research reveals overwork at agencies can result in mental strain, with 35% of respondents worried about their mental health.
As simple as it sounds, this means the first step towards improving efficacy is swapping multitasking and firefighting for focused operations, where workers are empowered to concentrate on completing one task at a time. As well as cutting down chaos, this small change can drastically ease pressure; providing room for individuals to breathe and creative ideas to thrive.
2. Enabling clear communication
Whether it’s between internal teams or the agency and client, clear communication is paramount. Clients need to know what they can expect, and to meet those expectations each individual also requires a defined idea of core project goals, alongside their own responsibilities.
By far the easiest way of ensuring absolute understanding is via holistic management: implementing a single centralised system that houses all project information, and is constantly updated. With a real-time picture of project timelines and progress, employees can keep track of workflow and organise checklists without taking their eye off the creative ball, while also giving clients an accurate, real-time insight into performance.
3. Cut out the time-wasters
Slowing down to do a thorough job is one thing, but wasting time on unnecessary tasks is another. To tell the difference, agencies must ensure their holistic platform includes company-wide activity, not just individual projects. By harnessing tools that offer an all-encompassing visualisation of every project timeline, agencies will be better equipped to spot bottlenecks before they cause major disruption to delivery.
Plus, going one step further and assigning an individual responsible for time management in the company (a Chief Time Officer) can further lighten the load on creative teams. With the designated person analysing collective project data to measure where the minutes go, pinpoint time wasters and identify where resources should be directed, creative workers will be released from the inefficient processes that are sapping their energy and holding back productivity.
"Chaos is an integral part of creativity"
Chaos is an integral part of creativity, but there is no reason why it should be the most dominant feature. While agencies don’t have the power to freeze all changes in client needs and industry trends, they do have the ability to control how they respond to emerging priorities, and adjust projects. By moving away from firefighting and gaining a unified view workflow, they can build stronger operational structures that take creative and efficiency to a higher level.
By Fred Krieger, Founder/CEO at Scoro