I worked in an agency that was having a big issue with Process. Yep that’s the P Word.
I started there as a consultant, then, when they discovered how brilliant I was (or I was willing to do something that no one really wanted to take on) and couldn’t live without me, they offered me a full-time position. I couldn’t turn it down – solving issues is right up my alley.
In the process of evaluating everything that was going on – and going wrong – in the agency, I had a chat with one of the creative directors. I asked about process. He said, “If I ever hear that word again I’m going to kill someone.”
Process gets discussed To Death.
Why can’t anyone in a creative environment figure out process?
Because it’s so simple. Most agencies and marketing departments actually have a process. They just don’t know it.
Why? Because they think they have to have a big meeting, involve all the managers, sketch it out on a whiteboard, write a long-winded document, 50-slide PowerPoint, have creative do a Process Workflow Diagram to print out and post on a wall, hold a company-wide training session, avow lofty pronouncements and declarations, then roll it out.
Two reactions come from this: a) why are they doing this to us? b) hooray! What’s next?
Then everyone goes back to what they were doing. Before all of that hullabaloo.
And why is this? Because management, in their brilliance, didn’t include anyone actually doing the work on outlining the process; and this is a big one – they have no one to manage the roll-out, follow-up and make adjustments as needed.
That’s because it was perfect. From a management perspective.
I can outline your process in a couple hours.
You say, “Charlotte, you’re insane! You have no idea what our agency/department is like! We’re different! We have a Special Culture!”
Bet you do.
And another thing I’ll bet is that the people doing the work know what process is and practice a little bit every day. It’s just that when things go sideways – which they do in every agency – management decides they’re going to do a process survey and decide what’s best for everyone . . . else.
That is, after it’s been discussed To Death.
So, yes, you do need Process. You need to define it, outline it and everyone needs to follow it. There are exceptions because disaster can strike any time in an agency. In those cases, you take care of the client, get the work done, fix the mistake – then learn from it. Revise the process.
But the exception is not what this is about. This is about the 95 percent of the work in your agency – the routine stuff – that shouldn’t be a pain to manage. A workflow that is predictable. We don't need drama.
Routine isn’t a bad thing, and neither is a clear process that allows most of the work to happen in a routine manner. When it’s all in place and work is just humming along, you have time for the disasters . . . and even more time to spend on the real creative stuff.
Don’t hate Process. Just don’t discuss it to death. Get the folks doing the work to outline it; give them GOOD tools to manage their work (I advocate for agency management software – you should know that by now); and once in place, assign an individual (make allowances for this additional duty) to keep on top of evaluations and adjustments.
You need champions for Process to work. None better than the staff doing the work. They, after all, have all the responsibility and actually really care.
Process is easy – not a Death Threat.