Project Management in the Creative World

Project management is relatively new in the creative world; traditionally it has been used in industries such as construction and engineering, and, let’s face it, most creative minds don’t like process. But in our world, project management is a large part of creativity. Managing the project and relationship of the client, the team and all other stakeholders is critical to any project’s success, especially in the creative world.

An account manager is on board to build the relationship with the client to initiate a project; the creative team produces the work. A project manager acts as the core of the project; we lead the team from project initiation through to the completion of the project. It is the meaning behind our signature line: “Right brains that can be left alone”.

Project managers can get your project moving. For example, if you were to ask a creative person or team how long it would take for them to produce an idea, you would be unlikely to get a firm response, particularly without providing them with the parameters of the idea. A project manager can identify and communicate to stakeholders the project requirements, identify the various needs of stakeholders, as well as balancing competing constraints related to the project, including:

  • cost,
  • schedule,
  • scope,
  • quality,
  • risks,
  • resources, etc.

A project manager can work with the creative team to ensure those objectives are met during the planning and execution of each project. This allows your creative team to be creative and produce the work without worrying about developing schedules, managing budgets, finding resources – all the organizational aspects of the job.

A good project manager provides a human touch your project, encouraging team members when morale is flagging, and has the ability to explain to creative teams and the client and other non-creative types why they produced the work in question. Interfacing with the creative team, the client and other stakeholders to ensure your project success.

Great things take time. Including a project manager as a part of your creative process can allow for seamless integration in collaboration giving your right brains the freedom to be creative!

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The Journey to Clarity

The flash of brilliance, the light bulb going off, the big “ah ha”, are what we at SJG call moments of clarity: the magic point where everything becomes clear and understanding rushes forward. Seems simple. Archimedes “eureka” moment took place while sitting in the bathtub. But what they don’t tell you is, the bathwater had long gone cold and he was a wrinkled as a prune.

You see, getting to a moment of clarity is not a simple task. It is a journey, and it starts before the creative flows and long before the cameras roll or the designs begin to take shape.

Clarity Starts by Getting Curious
When you get curious you’re going to be asking lots of questions. The right questions, the tough questions. You’re going to deep dive for the nuggets of truth. Get ready to swim in a sea of content. You will be immersed in the flotsam and jetsam of messages, specifications, facts, figures, reports and competitive analysis.

Content is King
After thoroughly saturating your brain in a tidal wave of information it is time to sort and organize. Okay, it sounds boring, but stick with me. It is going to pay off big time. More than just a quick creative brief by an account manager, it is an in-depth enquiry into the entire content landscape. This is going to build a foundation for your moment of clarity. Content is one of the cornerstones to achieving clarity. It is the blueprint for creative development and the document we use for reference as we come up with ideas. The better the content is, the better your ideas will be.

Creative Collaboration
Isn’t it great to sit alone in a room and come up with brilliant ideas? Well, sometimes it is, but we have found it is a whole lot better to collaborate with other people. We have a saying here at SJG: If your idea sucks it was probably created in a vacuum. Get up from your seat and start having conversations with your colleagues. Don’t worry about where the idea came from. Just care that you generate lots of ideas and make sure they are documented. On any given day here at SJG, we will have quick phone calls with our clients; have hallway idea exchanges with our colleagues; we have run an idea past a barista at our local coffee shop (White Squirrel Café is our new local); or even get input from our families. We scribble on pad boards, Skype our way to a solution, or jam in a boardroom. It really doesn’t matter – the key is to roll up you sleeves and collaborate.

Compress to Clarify
The last step on the journey to clarity is to distil your creative into the smallest possible package. Get out the red pen and ask, what is the minimum amount of information possible without losing the entire concept?  Einstein said everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. We love this idea and are constantly asking each other if there is a simpler way to get this idea across.

That’s it. The journey to clarity starts by listening big and ends with a big idea that your audience will love.

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