… on 10 Tools For Managing a Creative Environment

The Web 2.0 Expo keynote presented by Bryan Mason, COO and Sarah Nelson, Design Analyst from Adaptive Path, connected their experiences as professionals in the arts with their other role as experience designers for clients in an agency setting. Mason began his career in the stage arts and Nelson is a classically trained, lifelong violin player.

They gained insights from the processes and organizational structures of various creative entities such as the highly structured restaurant kitchen, and the theater experience, “Too Much Light makes the Baby go Blind” written and performed by Chicago’s Neo Futurists .

As a creative professional in a dynamic agency setting, it is thrilling to see a project go from initial seeds of an idea, to a fully formed product. However getting through the process can be intense, complex, and challenging. Ultimate success relies on a certain set of constantly changing rules, circumstances, and resources.

By dissecting other successful creation models, and applying the analysis to their current business model, Adaptive Path is saying: We don’t know it all. We can be better. We can be different. We’re always learning.

Adaptive Path’s work environment seems like one that supports and fosters creativity — and it’s not just about putting your people in a room and asking them to emerge at the end of the day with THE BIG IDEA. It’s about finding activities and processes that will allow that stuff to naturally and smartly emerge.

I want to work in an environment that subscribes to the following points Adaptive Path presented:

  • Cross train the team. Foster empathy – let people see what it’s like for others. Its about cross-pollination, more like a web, not nodes.
  • Rotate creative leadership. Don’t let people get burned out. Let leaders play a support role sometimes.
  • Actively turn the corner. Know when its time to stop brainstorming (where collaboration rules and roles are less important) and start making/producing (roles become more important people need to know what’s expected).
  • Know your roles. Hierarchy streamlines production. Clear sets of responsibility enables communication.
  • Practice as a team. When in execution mode, it’s not time to practice individual skills. The group needs to work things out and trust each other.
  • Make your mission explicit. What’s the creative project you are trying to solve? Develop strong process for making decision. Clarify communications. Increase constraints is counter-intuitive but helps decision making.
  • Kill your darlings softly. Don’t be afraid to let go of good ideas. Put it in Phase 2!
  • Leadership is a service. I love this one!! Its your job to enable others to do their job well.
  • Generate projects around creative interests. This will keep people engaged and give them a sense of ownership.
  • Remember your audience. How many times are decisions made to benefit business needs at the expense of user’s needs are forgotten.
  • Celebrate failure. It’s ok – only by taking risks, can we get to something great.

Adaptive Path – Sign me up!


2 responses to “… on 10 Tools For Managing a Creative Environment

  1. this is very inspiring! thank you.

  2. Pingback: YOU are the Mobile Device « One Lucky Bird

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