Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Technique for Getting Ideas

In my post Creativity or Ideas Have Two Forms, I ask; "How do you manufacture ideas and concepts?" Well I found someone who is bold enough to answer and share the principles of his creative process. I'll be damned if I can recall where I found, James Wood Young (need to improve my habits), so I'm forced to introduce him somewhat out of context.
Suffice it to say he is an 1940's era "Ad Man".

Young wrote a text titled: "A Technique for Getting Ideas" and I'm going to share it with you, but first some encouragement, questions and affirmations,

Young's text is quirky and it took me sometime to relate to his voice, but he does an excellent job of delivering his 5 steps in a fun and unknowingly historic manner. I strongly encourage you to digest the whole thing by following the principle of his first step, disciplined gathering of specific material.

Young describes an individual approach to ideation.
As you review his methods ask yourself, "can we apply these principles in team or group environment?" Future posts will explore this further.

Young's text is affirming for me in many ways as he stresses the need to see relationships, constantly fill your mind and "submit ideas to the criticism of the judicious".

You can find a PDF of A Techique for Getting Ideas here.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Fiscal Acumen

This post introduces the Fiscal Pillar and completes the foundation for this blog.

Creativity and Fiscal Acumen?
Contrary to first blush these are not mutually exclusive concepts.
We're talking commercial creativity, our clients pay us to help them increase returns and remove barriers to growing their businesses and organizations.
I have no problem stating fiscal ineptitude will rapidly decrease credibility and opportunity. This pillar permits some coaching, knowledge sharing and business POV's that are sometimes held hostage by the account, sales or finance masters in our midst.

Ultimately the creative leader is charged with the seemingly disparate goals of driving ROI to both their client and host organization. Competency here is entirely dependent on understanding business models, pricing structures, industry verticals, market influences, consumer behavior and competitive analysis.
Advanced strategic thinking and business comprehension will lead to selling the right work in turn connecting the Fiscal Pillar to the Client & Creativity Pillars.
Sounds like a formula for advancing your portfolio to me.

Practically, creative people are tasked with informing account plans, project plans, budgets, work orders and estimates. The effort can be dry as toast and distracting. Elevated fiscal competencies ensure accuracy and efficiency in developing these essential business records and permit a quick return to the more inspired aspects of creative roles.

Lets pry the lid off the Fiscal Pillar in more detail in future posts.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Team Leadership Pillar

In order to effectively lead a team one must need a team.
This post explores effective leadership characteristics and behaviors.

Natural & Appointed Leadership
Natural leaders readily create or accept more work than they're capable of producing themselves. The complexity, volume or time requirements of the work demand this person actively engage a team in order to meet stakeholder expectations.
These leaders ask for help and empathize with the help when they get it.
Appointed leaders are provided with a team or a previously established need for one. Appointments may assign leadership accountabilities but they do not make leaders. Some people are rewarded with team leadership positions due to their fiscal, client leadership or creative development abilities. These strengths are all encouraged and explored in the other Pillars of Success, however excellence in one pillar does not imply advanced competencies in another.
It is important for creative organizations to create a meritocracy that fosters and recognizes natural leadership, in turn appointing and sourcing proven people into formal leadership roles.

Pillar Parallels & Connections
When we bring a team into the scenario the interdependencies of the 4 Pillars reveal themselves. If this blog were for creative lone rangers it would be called 3 Pillars of Success.
This pillar is about leading people and teams through the idea and execution phases of the Creativity Pillar. It also provides the context for the internal client referred to in the Client Leadership Pillar. Another parallel is scope confirmation provided to the end client is often used to brief and engage team members.

The Leadership Gig
Creative leaders with a solid track record often choose to find the solution versus create it themselves. This approach requires them to effectively represent the problem to their team and engage them with brainstorming and ideation techniques proven to remove paradigms. With multiple minds applied to a problem this leader is more likely to find answers, which lead to new concepts.

Equally important to articulating the problem is articulating the chosen concept. Engaging a team in building out the concept and making it real is an art in itself. Senior leaders understand various development methods and the resulting team competency requirements. They can clearly delegate and evaluate task artifacts for fidelity to concept.
They critique the work not the person.

Progressive creative leaders advance through succession planning.
These leaders understand the need to bring new and entry-level personnel into all phases of the project in order to get to know them and not overlook their potential. Leaders seek and coach team members who display competencies in all 4 Pillars allowing their organization to scale while providing project diversity for themselves.

Checking the Ego
In my experience most people with overly high opinions of themselves don't build the best teams, nor do they create the best solutions. Generally I regard self-centered behavior as a destructive trait rather than a creative one. The leadership behaviors described here require a vision of excellence and a grace that encourages individual growth.

Have a look at your portfolio, my bet is the best work is associated with strong leadership, either your own or someone who effectively engaged you.