The Creative Development Manifesto

Welcome reader – Shell here. What you’re about to embark on are 10 things that I have come to find incredibly important in the creative process. These have been acquired through experience, observation, blogs, research, conversations and convictions. Each of these have come to be a significant pillar in the Creative Development department, and drive how we carry ourselves and execute our work. I give to you, the Creative Development Manifesto.

1. Listen.

As Beyoncé so melodically reminds us in the cinematic interpretation of Dreamgirls, Listen. Being a good listener is the first step to every creative endeavor. Listen to the client and their needs. Listen to the team and their ideas. Listen to your instincts. Listen and learn from the people you respect.

2. Without trust, creative collaboration is not possible – this is true internally & externally.

Oh man, I can’t stress this one enough. Trust in collaboration is the foundation of good creative. Brainstorming and concepting require a certain degree of vulnerability – and if a person doesn’t feel like they’re in a safe and nonjudgmental environment, they won’t share what’s on their mind.

The same philosophy goes for your relationship with the client. If you don’t take the time to build a foundation of respect and care, they won’t trust you to lead them creatively. So take time to invest in your team internally and your clients externally – the creative benefits will be tenfold.

3. Make sure The Brief is what it needs to be.

If you’ve taken the time to invest in your client in order to build trust, you will know them well enough to know what it’s going to take for them to join you on the creative journey. Put in the brief what you need to, leave out what you need to. There’s a really good chance each brief is going to be different because each client is different. Take the time to make it what it needs to be.

4. Have a real opinion.

This one is two fold. First: Don’t say things that don’t mean anything. Don’t throw around industry jargon to supplement lack of real opinion. If you don’t have an opinion on something, don’t say anything. Just listen.

Secondly: Have an opinion about the work you do. Defend your creative, have resilience. If you have a leg to stand on and reasoning behind what you create, you’ll be able to meet the client where they are at, and take them to where you’re going.

5. Know your team’s passions & strengths well enough to put the right people on the right projects.

One of my greatest passions in the creative process, and otherwise, is identifying what gets people excited. When new members join the creative team, one of the first things I do is sit down with them and ask what they’re passionate about. What gets them amped out of their mind – both work and discipline related things and life in general. Once you have this information, when you know what makes someone come alive, you’re able to identify which people are perfect for which projects. When you know what kind of work isn’t work for someone, you’re going to get a much better final product and sustain a much happier team.

6. If the person presenting doesn’t believe in the work, there is no reason for the client to care.

It is extremely difficult to successfully feign care. You can get by for a while on masked indifference or extravagant delivery, but people can tell when you don’t truly care about something.

When you are pitching an idea or trying to lead a client in a direction that you yourself don’t believe in, you’re going to have a very difficult time (mainly accomplishing #2 on this list). I’m also going to refer back to #5 regarding this topic: know who is passionate and put that person on the project, on the phone with the client, and in the editing room.

7. More Thinking, Less Meetings.

Sometimes getting in a room and throwing mud against the wall is the way to go. Most of the time, it’s certainly not. Block out the necessary time before coming into a meeting to do your research and form your foundational thoughts and concepts (I’m lookin at you, #4). This is going to make for a much more efficient and successful collaborative gathering.

8. Utilize who you need, but with intention.

Make sure you get the right players at the table. However, be intentional about respecting people’s time – if they don’t need to be there, release them of that obligation.

9. Sometimes, it’s okay to say no. Say no to meetings, say no to requested revisions, say no to make room for important yes’s.

This is such an important lesson that we’re all (referring primarily to myself here but using an all inclusive pronoun so I don’t feel alone) still learning. Make room to breathe.

10. Collect (look at others work), Curate (share others work), Consume (support others work), Create (make your own work).

In a world full of brilliant minds, groundbreaking conceptual approaches, and so much wisdom to share, these four things are going to greatly benefit your process. Support each other, promote each other, encourage each other. Someone else’s success does not depreciate your own.

Well folks, there you have it. This list of ten is neither finite nor exhaustive, but has significantly shaped the way this department is run. So until next time, I leave you with this sentiment: care about the work, care about the people, and care about the process.

Casey Williams