How to run a productive team workshop

Throughout May and June, I’ve been focussing on “Doing, not talking” –  practical tools that can be introduced to teams, to actively help them work better together. For the last post in this series, I’ll address the team workshop.

Workshops are a great time to experiment and explore. But whilst they can be fun and energising, it can be difficult for teams to stay focussed, and also to keep the momentum going after the session.

Here’s an overview of how I plan project team workshops for productive results.

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A checklist for creative management: from theory to practice

For years, academics and practitioners alike have been exploring the best way to ‘manage creativity’.  The two words in themselves seem like opposites– by its very nature creativity is chaotic, whereas management strives for order and efficiency (I first wrote about this in two posts a few months ago – The Messiness of Creativity and Working with Creative Chaos).  Finding a balance between the two can be tricky.

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From idea to execution: tips for keeping teams and projects moving

 Our energy and commitment – and thus a willingness to tolerate the sometimes painful process of execution – are naturally high only when an idea is first conceived… Our ideas become less interesting as we realize the implied responsibilities and sheer amount of work required to execute them

Scott Belsky in Making Ideas Happen

Something a creative team struggles with the most is execution. Developing ideas at the beginning of a project is an energising and exciting stage. But when it comes to knuckling down and seeing those ideas through, it takes much more determination and self-discipline.

Generating ideas requires a different type of thinking from actually delivering them, and shifting between the two isn’t easy.  The Ideation Switch, a post by Lukas Fittl on tech startups, explains perfectly how idea generation and execution need to be separated, when often they are attempted at the same time. And in The Creative Benefits of Split Personalities, Heidi Grant Halvorson describes how, to be successful in their work, a creative person needs to employ two different thinking approaches – idea generation and idea evaluation.

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Getting stuff done: workflow for creative teams

For the fourth post in the “Doing, not talking” series, I’m looking the “doing” during a project – developing a workflow so that a creative team can concentrate on what they do best.

An online search for the word “workflow” is not particularly inspiring – returning a lot of technical-looking and process-heavy results. But considering workflow for a new creative team is useful for effective collaboration, it just needs a lighter and more flexible approach.

I look at workflow as a way to help a team progress as productively as possible through a project (not necessarily as ‘smoothly as possible’ as it’s those bumps and roadblocks and messiness that often leads to great ideas). The aim is not to squeeze creativity out, but to make more space for it, by ensuring that team members are kept up-to-date, can find the information they need easily and are well-supported.

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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.

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Start with the individual: the personal audit

This month, I’m looking at “Doing, not talking” and providing some practical tools that can be used to help teams work better together.

PersonalAuditSince collaboration starts with the individual, for this first post I’m trying out the personal audit – a tool to be used by team members to review their own position before the collaboration starts.  The intention is for it to be useful for team members that are approaching a project from separate businesses (or different departments within an organisation) to help the team find common ground.

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Doing, not talking

Throughout May and June, the theme is: Doing, not talking.

Image: _sarchi cc

Last month, I was at the Business Design Summit in Berlin. The two-day event brought together 11 leading authors and business experts, plus practitioners, to share their latest tools for strategy and innovation. And it demonstrated that the best way, by far, to encourage people to work better together is to do things that help them work better together.

From the event website:

 “Whether building new businesses or re-inventing existing ones, all leaders need practical strategies to navigate today’s ruthless business environment. You need tools, not talk.”

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