The second day of HOW Design Live was jam packed with great In-House Management Sessions so buckle in – we’ve got a lot of great learnings to share!
Amanda Froehlich of Saint-Gobain talked about Transformational Reorganization and the Evolution Revolution her team went through. When Amanda took over as Creative Director at Saint-Grobain, the 30-person team was perceived by internal clients as merely tactical and worse, difficult to work with. Things were so bad there was talk of shutting the whole department down.
With zero processes, no metrics, no job descriptions, and a nonsensical org chart, Amanda knew there were opportunities for the team to make great improvements. She asked for one year to turn the department around.
Amanda started her team’s transformation by talking to both clients and team members about what their weaknesses were and what was needed from the team. She hired a business coach to provide objective opinions and bounce ideas off of, and selected a leadership team comprised of three of her highest-performing staff. With all the players in place, they began documenting their values and created a detailed roadmap of where the team was headed. A structural analysis led to a new org structure with three groups: Accounts, Creative; Technical and finally team members were given job descriptions.
Not all reactions were immediately positive – some clients who had pushed the team to change balked once the changes were actually underway. But with improved communication with clients, including regular demand planning to understand their long-term goals, nerves were calmed. Another stabilizing force was monthly staff meetings with the team and the implementation of project tiers and a homegrown automation solution to manage it all. Along with new workflows came workflow charts, to ensure everything continued to be documented.
With growing confidence from her team and clients, Amanda kept pushing the department forward. They rebranded as The Hive, and marketed their capabilities to the entire company with a website portfolio, email campaigns, and meetings with department heads. They developed an RFP process to compete against outside agencies, and within their first year won a huge internal project as well as Saint-Grobain’s most prestigious merit award, previously never granted to a US team.
Now The Hive is seen as a global brand steward for Saint-Grobain. They developed the brand guidelines for the entire company and are regularly consulted on best practices. Productivity has increased 615% and client opinion of the team has seen similar lift – so much so that the CEO unprompted granted Amanda an additional $100,000 to continue traveling and pitching senior leaders on the capabilities of her in-house agency.
Next up was Jackie Schaeffer of Cella Consulting and Conor Smith from The BOSS Group to present the much-anticipated 2015 Creative Services Industry Report. This year’s report features articles on everything from A Solution to the Prioritization Problem to A Creative Approach to Adopting a Project Management System.
Digging into the numbers, we learn that more and more creative teams (if they’re big enough) are breaking out the operational role as its own full-time job. Also changing in the operational landscape is the rise of digital asset management. Jackie sees DAM as the next project management – a tool that will quickly move from being a nice-to-have to a must-have. She encourages creative teams to start looking at tools now, because if you don’t beat your IT team to the selection, you might get stuck with a tool that doesn’t fit your needs.
The statistic that most surprised us was that 37% of creative teams are using YouTube to get feedback and approval on videos. While that certainly shows resourcefulness, creative teams and their clients deserve a better way to collect and track feedback on video projects. Check out our online proofing tool and see how inMotion makes it easy to proof video, print, and web projects.
Brand stewardship was one of the main recurring themes in this year’s In-House Management Conference. Tim Cox, Director of Creative Services at Publix, touched heavily on the subject in his session, How to Get Taken Seriously. Tim emphasized that creative teams have to take ownership of the brand (not marketing teams), since no one is better positioned than the in-house team to develop and maintain the company’s brand expression. To do this well though, in-house teams first need to identify their brand values to remove subjectivity from the “is this on brand?” evaluation of creative work. Developing brand expression means identifying your brand’s character – traits like Publix’s honesty, simplicity, and freshness – and translating that to a copy voice, photography, typography, illustrations, etc.
In the end, collaboration with other departments and hard work will be necessary to influence the rest of the organization. The first thing creatives need to do is to stop waiting for somebody to assign strategy to you. Ask “why does my team exist in my organization?” and then take initiative to fulfill and expand your purpose.
And finally, corporate creative guru Andy Epstein was up to discuss Getting Professional Development PDQ (still trying to figure out what that stands for…). Andy called out the 75% of creative leaders who say that they don’t have time to develop their team, reminding us that that’s the most important function of a leadership role. You want to groom your team members to take your job one day, so you can take your boss’s!
Start by expanding the context of what professional development means. Andy shared two imperatives for creative leaders. The first: obtain and retain great people. To do that, you need to understand what makes people excited to come to work – autonomy, mastery, and purpose. The second imperative is to become a change manager. Change won’t change, it will always be there. The trick is not to simply react to it when it happens but to plan for it.
When developing your team, remember to cover all five of the PD “flavors”: creative, business, judgement, leadership, and self-discovery. But at the end of the day, Andy says, “whoever you are, everyone else is going to be.” So make sure you’re being the kind of team member you want to see your staff become.
What did you take away from Wednesday’s In-House Management sessions? Does anyone know what PDQ is? Share in the comments!
And in case you missed it, check out Tuesday’s In-House Management recap.