How to overcome 3 oh-so-human barriers to creative success

Ranjith Kumaran

April 5, 2017

We’re in the middle of a content explosion driven by technology. When you can capture HD video on your phone and edit it with free software on your laptop, anyone can create half-decent content.

Standing out from this content crowd requires breakthrough ideas and the touch of quality that comes from individual creativity and, even more crucially, great collaboration.

However, creative success is hindered by the same human factors that make collaboration so valuable:

1. Creativity is messy 

The creative process is filled with dead ends, regressions, moments of inspiration and long hours of nothing at all. This lack of a linear path makes it difficult to manage. Creatives often believe that too rigid a process stifles the creative spirit, but a lack of structure affects the marketing managers who need great campaign content on deadline and in budget.

2. Creative teams are fluid

The multi-channel world demands a range of content and therefore multiple skills from digital design to filmmaking. Most marketing organizations won’t have all this creative and technical expertise in-house so draft in outside agencies, freelancers and contractors. When creative teams vary in terms of geography, technology and process, collaboration is much harder.

3. Clients don’t get it

The most critical collaborator on any creative project is the client or business stakeholder who commissioned it and has final approval. But they often take too long to provide feedback and are ambiguous about approvals, which means creative teams prefer to share more fully-formed work less often. This reduces the client’s potential input and risks all the team’s hard work being brutally rejected.

Combine these three factors and you get project delays, bad work and unsatisfactory results. What if technology could provide a better way? Software has transformed collaboration in areas like sales (Salesforce) and coding (Github), but so far creativity has been neglected largely due to the above barriers.

These human problems are far from insurmountable and here’s how technology can help.

Open the collaboration curtain

Creative teams often want to hide the messy creative process from clients and partners. Yet opening the curtain to provide access to early drafts and conversations will allow clients to guide the process more effectively. Better exchange of opinions and ideas will ensure a project’s stated goals are achieved and that weeks of hard work aren’t meet with a “don’t like it” review.

Develop new creative habits

Creative teams composed of a range of media-related specialists and skill-sets are unlikely to have a great crossover of processes and tools. And when many are external partners, the likelihood of having practices in common decreases further. New collaboration tools can provide common neutral ground where these various teams can work together.

Explain what makes good feedback

When creatives say that the client “just doesn’t get it”, they usually means that their stakeholder doesn’t understand the creative process. Clients often struggle to explain their ideas and thinking to the creators. Educating them on how to provide better feedback and providing a way for them to do it quickly and precisely will increase their ability to provide insights that enhance the final work.

Creative collaboration is now being liberated by innovative new services like Hightail that help teams overcome these oh-so human factors that stifle collaboration.

By bringing creative teams, clients and other stakeholders together in a place dedicated to discussion, review and approval of creative work, your business can tear down creative collaboration barriers and create great work that beats the deadline, is in-budget and achieves its goal.

An amended version of this article originally appeared on AdWeek.

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