What’s your problem? – a briefing template

For this month’s theme of “Doing, not talking”, I’m providing practical methods and tools for supporting collaboration.

In an earlier post, I gave some insight into my process for building a top creative team. But before you start your search for talent, one of the most important things you can do is to produce an effective brief.  This will help you to identify the actual skills and expertise you need to look for.

There’s sometimes a temptation to think of what the solution could be before a problem has been properly defined. But the briefing stage enables you to consider your broader business needs and take a more strategic approach.  Its purpose is to define the problem well and provide context to enable the team to start the ideas generation process and/or ask more questions.

Brief Template

Although a brief is often written as a linear document, I’ve designed a template which takes a more visual approach:


How to use it:

  • Start with the ‘now’ – your current situation (1) and the problem (2) – you can use tools  such as Five Whys to get to the real root cause.
  • Describe your target audience (3). They are, of course, central to whatever you are doing.
  • Jump ahead to the future. First describe the desired outcome (4) – it might be useful to view this as if success has been achieved, not by the solution but by what success means to you and the target audience. Then outline your objectives (5) – how you will measure that success.
  • Consider other factors that may have an impact (positive or negative) on a successful outcome – review (6) your competitors and your own strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT), and identify any known barriers or challenges (7)
  • Finally, describe any other parameters – points of reference (8)  – any successful or unsuccessful examples that you’ve seen, and practical constraints (9) – deadline, budget, resources etc.

You’ll find that thinking through each of these sections enables you to consider who you’ll need to bring into your team.  Like our last post, this tool is a prototype, so if you use it, we’d love any feedback.

Download the Brief Template (pdf).

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