The Creative Nirvana: Where Human Behavior and Technology Align

May 24, 2016

Do you know the definition of “Nirvana”? (No, not the “Smells like Teen Spirit” kind.) Nirvana means a state of perfect happiness; an ideal or idyllic state. For creatives, that state of perfect happiness comes when their team is running in perfect unison: Stress is low, inspiration is high, and deadlines aren’t only getting hit—they’re getting beat. If I mentioned that description to your creative team, wouldn’t they consider it the “holy grail”? If a Creative Nirvana could be reality, would you take it?

In today’s world, for that to even get close to possible, two major things have to happen:

  1. Human Behavior needs to be adjusted
  2. Technology must be embraced

To truly experience Creative Nirvana, you must take a deeper look at the overall process flow and uncover where valuable time and energy can be saved. While virtually all creative teams have embraced software like Photoshop and InDesign, and some have even adopted MarTech, many have still not fully utilized a major time and resource-saver: workflow automation. Now, unlike the chicken or the egg argument, human behavior must change first before any technology to improve workflow can even be considered. But let’s face it: Humans have a very difficult time changing. We are comfortable. We like familiar. That’s why in the general bell curve of adapting anything you have early adopters, mainstream adopters, and laggards. (You know laggards, the folks still using flip phones.) We are still on the early adopters phase when it comes to workflow automation.

So how do we encourage change? How do we make it happen? For starters, create a coalition or “strike team” of folks with similar interest in improving the status quo! You can certainly go rogue, like Jack Bauer, but remember the old adage, “there is safety in numbers.” Generally speaking, if the more vocal or respected team members announce there is an opportunity to change, then others will follow suit and want to join in.

Next, I’d encourage everyone reading this to audit their current processes.

Three questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is our current process truly efficient?
  2. How can our team work better together with what we have now?
  3. Is there a need for change and do we have time to invest?

If you can’t honestly and accurately answer these questions, then it’s probably too early to invest in technology. Without commitment from the entire time, you won’t be able to fully adopt a new solution. That can spell disaster to your group and ultimately slow you down.

Once those boxes are checked, though, it’s time to blaze the trail of change.

Of course, selecting software for your creative group can be an uphill battle. While most creatives are familiar with programs used to create assets, many lack a solution that supports their process for getting work assigned, completed, and approved. This hasn’t been as big of area to invest in because it is hard to quantify with the current manual processes. Many organizations think their creative team is doing great, when those in the trenches are staying late most nights, running around the office trying to get a final approval, or wasting hours on creating a month end report for executive meetings. It is exhausting and has to stop.

After you’ve decided your team is ready to bring in technology, ask yourself some key questions to determine which direction to go in.

What are the 3 most significant challenges your team faces? (ie Is client communication at key project milestones lacking? Do you fall behind on work because of a disorganized process? Are you constantly chasing “x” department for updates or approvals?) This will help when narrowing down the solutions that fit best for your challenges

What volume of work is your team responsible for? Break it out in to levels, like low, medium, or high? Identifying the volume of work is crucial to understanding what kind of bandwidth your team has to learn and ultimately fully adopt a new solution.

Do you have leadership buy-in? Obtaining buy-in from the decision-makers in your organization will save you time later in the process and keep momentum high. If leadership understands that a solution will have important implications for the team, then you will be able to justify dedicating time to searching and making a recommendation. Additionally, you save yourself time doing a ton of research then presenting the idea and it gets shut down. Technology is vital in today’s industry, but it’s important to be diligent about your process to ensure you can go full throttle (Charlie’s Angels 2) when it comes time to explore solutions.

Human behavior and technology can mesh extremely well when properly thought through and executed. It is important to embrace change and the opportunity to grow in any way possible. Always audit your processes and never be satisfied with how things are going. Strive to be that group that other organizations look at and say “Boy, how do we hum like them”.

The Creative Nirvana exists, gang. I’ve seen it first hand and it is glorious!

Are you ready for it?

 

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