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How to add order to your creative workflow without killing creativity 4 min read
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Creatives are expert inventors. They excel at imagining, ideating, and bringing novel concepts to life. They understand the importance of harnessing moments of inspiration and the value of spontaneity. But while freedom is fundamental to creative brainpower, the act of creating itself requires structure.

Without a foundation that provides order and organization to creative endeavors, your creative workflow won’t flow very far.

The challenge for leaders of creative teams is finding a way to increase order, ownership, and productivity without killing the creative process.

3 obstacles that divert the creative workflow

Whether you lead a team of copywriters, designers, design thinkers, artists, or any other type of creative, these are three challenges virtually every team can relate to.

1. Ineffective brainstorming

Brainstorming is essential to the creative process, but facilitating a productive brainstorming session is harder than it seems, especially when the process lacks structure.

Unstructured ideation increases the risk that the session will lose seriousness and not be productive. We’ve all been in those sessions that end up in YouTube purgatory, Wikipedia sinkholes, or a complete tangent of nonsense. 

While a free flow of thought can offer a greater quantity of ideas, these exercises often lack focus, and there’s no guarantee that they will produce actionable outcomes.

Instead, structured brainstorming — the systematic and liberal generation of ideas — will yield more extensive and useful concepts. Unlike unstructured brainstorming, where participants throw out ideas as they come to mind, structured brainstorming requires everyone to follow certain rules, such as deferring judgement, staying focused on the topic, and maintaining one conversation at a time.

By sticking to structured brainstorming, you will:

  • Allow all team members a chance to contribute ideas (and not just the few loudest voices)
  • Encourage quality and not just quantity
  • Steer ideation to take a specific direction, and encourage the mutual stimulation of ideas
  • Ensure there is a conclusive ending to the session and next steps to drive action.

 2. Losing sight of the big picture

No one is better than creatives at taking a problem and emerging hours, days, or weeks later with the perfect solution. An outsider who observes this process would probably assume the method to the madness here is just… madness. But for creative teams, they’d say it’s the natural conclusion to the creative workflow.

The challenge for creatives is not problem-solving. Instead, it’s the risk of losing sight of the big picture. Every task your creatives tackle — whether it’s designing an ad, coming up with a new tagline, or editing a script — is part of some larger strategy, campaign, or initiative.

Unless your team can see and understand the greater context within which their work exists, it can be difficult to ensure consistency and coherence across the entire project. Losing sight of the big picture might also lead to misallocating resources or trouble meeting deadlines.

3. Difficulty adapting to changes

One of the most unique traits of people in creative fields is that each individual develops their own methods and creative workflow over time. In most ways, this is their superpower, but at the same time, it can become an obstacle.

When changes occur — a team member leaves or a new one joins, there’s a leadership transition, or there’s a client who wants to be super involved in the creative process — it can be difficult to manage disruption without hurting the creative process.

Despite the urge to resist change, adding structure and organization can be beneficial. By creating processes that help facilitate the creative workflow, you can guide how creative teams approach projects, tackle brainstorming, vet new ideas, and ultimately, create, amid or despite change. 

By adding a level of consistency throughout changes, your creative team will become more adaptable and agile.

Striking the balance between order and creativity

Creative team leaders must be thoughtful about how to add structure to the creative workflow. Systems or techniques that limit new ways of thinking, discourage risks, or insinuate judgment will quickly hamper creativity and lower morale.

Instead, an unobtrusive system that adds visibility into the scope, goals, responsibilities, and timelines of a project will be the ideal fit. A Work OS is a platform that enables all team members to better manage workflows without dictating their work or interfering with the creative process. It centralizes key information to ensure all users keep sight of the big picture, stay updated on progress, and foster greater accountability.

Sometimes the key to letting the creative process flow is by building a levee. Want to hear more about how to maximize creative thinking and productivity within teams? Check out our tips from top marketers on the subject

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