A Framework for Creative Prevents "Too Many Cooks" Syndrome

May 05, 2017

It’s an old adage that the oddest-looking animals in the world – the giraffe, for example, or the platypus – were designed by committees on which everyone wanted input and the only way to get the project signed off was to agree to ridiculous compromises. Anyone who has ever worked on the creative side of marketing will find this concept familiar; with so many hands in the project, the vision never gets out the door without being muddied by compromise until it makes little to no sense anymore.

“These days there are many proverbial cooks in our kitchens,” wrote Amy Duchene in a recent article for Business2Community. “Everyone has an opinion and wants to share it, and they aren’t always organized about when and where they provide feedback.”

Is there a way around this conundrum? Not really, unless you have good friends at the very top that will let you be the first and last voice on creative marketing. But it does help to establish a creative workflow process so you can’t be blindsided at the last minute by rogue elements. While there are those who will always be tempted to jump the process and weigh in with opinions that aren’t wanted when they’re least workable, having a framework can help, according to Duchene, and save money and headaches along the way.

“At its most basic, a creative workflow is the process by which your organization or team generates, approves, and signs off on things,” she

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wrote. “It involves identifying who’s in charge of what – and when – within your organization. It’s a document that shows the hierarchy and/or flow of movement, from concept to revisions to finalization.”

A lot of time in the creative process is determining after-the-fact whose opinions matter and whose don’t, or whose opinions override everyone else’s. “The pecking order of opinions” will be familiar to most creative marketers, as will be the process of figuring out which feedback is “opinion” and which is “get this done immediately or else.”

A good workflow system, which can be managed with a marketing automation solution, is a must-have for major projects such as website redesigns, new product rollouts, media kits and events. It’s also not a bad idea to create a mini-process for smaller projects like to-customer emails and social media posts, according to Duchene, who recommends a process something like this:

Outline your team hierarchy. Who on your team needs to review and where does this person’s opinion fall in the hierarchy? Do other departments need to be consulted and at what state of the project? Ensure the final signoff is by one person, and not a committee, or you’ll never get projects done. 

Determine where reviews will take place – and how and when. Establishing a strict framework for the final review will save time, money and headaches. It’s important to be honest at this stage, according to Duchene, and define the technologies that will be used (Dropbox, email, etc.).

“Do you think your team will do better with in-person meetings or individual task assignments?” she wrote. “Be honest – it’s not about what you want, but what is best for the team. For example, if you’re all introverts, you probably don’t want to plan for an all-hands team review in person so that people can share their opinions – lest you end up with a room of stone-faced, silent folks who email you later with their thoughts.”

While it may seem like a lot of extra work initially, getting everyone used to a framework reduces unpleasant surprises and last-minute delays. It also helps consolidate and streamline the creative process so you don’t end up continually putting out platypuses.

Edited by Alicia Young

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