Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Client Leadership Pillar

This post introduces the Client Leadership Pillar.
A client is defined as an individual or organization that is engaging professional services to solve their problem(s). In the 4 Pillars model clients can be both internal and external to ones parent organization. The key to success in this pillar is to earn the trust and approval of the client stakeholder so the best work is fully considered and ultimately implemented.
Every elevator pitch in history has been to a known or prospective client.

Stakeholders defined.
Generally stakeholders are; the client, the client's customers (everyone serves) and the firm or agency hired to solve the agreed problems. Anyone who benefits from the solution is a stakeholder.

The right problem
One of the biggest obstacles to connecting with a client is fully understanding the right problem to solve. Client provided insight to their problems is often lacking in clarity.
A creative professional understands various methods of inquiry to ensure the scope of the problem is well understood in order to create innovative solutions that drive returns to all stakeholders. Creative professionals will research or seek information on the end customers needs and issues in order to fully understand their pain points and issues.
Market and competitive audits also serve to drive insights to potential solutions.
This information is often presented in project, creative and insight briefs, however the agency chooses to summarize and clarify scope and direction.

Persuade or sell, either way the client needs to be convinced.
Salesmanship, presentation and relationship skills are essential in order to build client rapport.
Agencies rarely decide for their client, they recommend.
A recommendations merit is often rationalized in relation to competitive, market and customer conditions, development methods, media strategies and material choices.
All creative professionals seeking to advance their portfolios or reputations face the need to persuade and sell their clients on the right solution.

In my experience the most successful creative professionals vest themselves in the work and see their projects through to completion. These leaders understand project success extends client relationships, sells new clients, builds portfolios and improves customer experiences.

This blog is not about prescribing a master how to, it is about exploring all aspects of a professional problem solvers career with the hope of sharing experiences, methods, successes, failures, results and ideas.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Creativity or Ideas Have Two Forms

This pillar focuses on core competencies within a field or discipline applied to solve the problem and deliver the solution. Both the concept and the execution are established within this pillar. The Pareto (wikipedia) principle works well when describing the weight of effort required within the Creativity pillar. 20% of a project or individuals effort would be required to establish the idea or concept, with the remaining 80% used to assemble the manifest deliverables.
This recalls Edison’s famous quote, “Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration”.

Idea form #1 _ the holy shit moment, or for some the "oh my blog" moment ;)
Ideas start out as intangible thought.
How do we manufacture ideas and concepts?
First off creative people don't accept things as they are, they identify problems and apply themselves to conceive possible solutions and improvements.
This fits with a fundamental tenet of human behaviour; people seek the path of least resistance. For some, thinking is resistance, for creative people, thinking is a proven means to a smoother path.
Creative professionals are called upon by their clients to generate ideas and innovations in a reliable manner.
This is no small feat and requires mastery of brainstorming and ideation techniques.
As ideas move from thought to material they are often expressed in words and or sketches. (Critical Mass is a digital shop, but we burn through sketchpads and post it notes).

Future posts will explore ideation methods and stories with the aim of sharing and inspiring.
How do you manufacture ideas and concepts?

Idea Form #2 _ the prototype and the product
Once the concept is established the next order of business is to do it justice through excellence in execution. Anyone who is producing work based on personal ideas can dive right in and get to work. The general problem with solo executions is the final work is limited to ones mastery of tools, formats, platforms and materials.
Engaging a team permits multiple experts to apply a host of disciplines to achieve excellence. The keys to effectively engaging a team of creative professionals to do their best work is communication and ownership.
One of the most effective communication tools is a prototype. Prototypes take many forms and strive to represent the concept well enough to solicit more refined contributions of form and function. Precison of final work is highly dependent on how well the concept is shared with and understood by the development team.
My point on ownership is simple. If a creative professional or team is truly vested in realizing the concept, they will fully apply themselves in solving all related development issues and deliver a portfolio worthy product.

In addition to prototypes what effective concept communication methods have you experienced?

The 4 Pillars themselves are a concept.
I have a solid understanding of them in my mind.
This blog is one of my tangible executions of the concept.
I look forward to continuing to express this concept; your thoughts and ideas are welcome.