The award for the most overused and trite term used in the creative agency goes to… “Think outside the box.” Why then write a post that props it up as an important element to the creative process and creative project management? Because I enjoy irony, and there is a lesson to learn in this aphorism that is oft overlooked and deserves greater attention afforded to it. Creative projects suffer from imbedding false assumptions and self-limiting beliefs into the project plan via a vertical, linear thinking that keep ideas well inside this proverbial box.
Let’s look at linear thinking and the dangers it presents to the creative project. Continue reading
First there is a project , Then there is no project, Then there is a project…
A koan is meant to bring about deep reflection on a topic with the intent of taking the practitioner closer to the goal of enlightenment. These concise and clever proverbs contain gems that afford a better perspective on complex topics. In this post I will use the mountain koan to dissect the phases of a project and illustrate three key points:
- We should not lose “beginner’s mind” and the lofty idealism of the project plan
- It is difficult to see the forest through the trees while “inside” the project
- There are missed opportunities by ignoring project postmortems
Kaizen for the Creative Agency Project Manager
Literally translated from Japanese to English, Kaizen means “Good Change”. The inference in business terms becomes improvement, or the process of continuing improvement. Kaizen’s history in the business world began with manufacturing and is closely associated with 5S Lean, but like any simple theory based in the scientific method, it can be applied to broad range of industry. I would argue that holding the principles of Kaizen as a core value is especially imperative for the Creative Agency Project Manager.
Lack of Time Sheet compliance is a common issue among creative agencies. No matter what the firm’s billing scheme is–fixed fee, retainer, or time and materials–capturing the effort spent at the task level of projects is critical in these three areas: Estimating, Productivity Analysis, and Financial Accounting. To counter this problem I propose a tiered system of bonuses as an incentive program for increased Time Sheet compliance for creative agencies. Continue reading
Hi, my name is Damian, and I have a problem with the current state of estimating in creative agencies. Do you also have an agency that is averse to estimating? Have things gotten out of hand? Hurt feelings? Damaged relationships? Maybe it’s time to start the healing process and have an intervention. Let’s review a 12-step program that can lead your creative agency to a rehabilitated estimating process.
How does your creative agency estimate task durations?
If you’re like most agencies, you’re using a mixture of historical data tempered with solicited resource input. I.E., I’ll start my estimate by looking at what we did last time (if available) and I’ll ask the resource how long they think it will take. The CCPM method then adds another step that many in the creative agency profession would find shocking: cut those durations estimates in half!
Anecdotal version: “You have a project with a budget of $1,000 that is 80% complete but you’ve only spent $600 of your budget on it so far. That’s one healthy project! We should do this more often!”
Earned Value Management (EVM) is a tool that can help the creative agency get a quick look at the overall health of a project. I want to review a couple of the key concepts of EVM and apply it to a health check that can be performed on a project over time to give the creative agency project manager a useful report to check on a project’s health.
If you’ve read any of my other posts you can tell I really go for the concepts that apply rules to creative agency project management. A concept as succinct and transmutable to business applications as The Rule of Seven is quite appealing to me. In his article, Modeling business processes with the Rule of Seven, Jonas A. Zahn spells out a great use of the rule in regards to documenting process. He applies the rule to effectively “cut away the fat” of for business process modeling (BPMN). I love this idea and I would like to extend this construct the creative project.
Can you recall being in grade school and learning the inverted pyramid system of writing expository essays? The system stipulates your introduction ought to be started out broad and then focus to a thesis point. Conversely, in the essay’s conclusion, you should reverse the process by recapping your thesis and move out to broad strokes that recap the points of your essay. I’ve always liked this model and would I like to propose that its simple relationship can be translated into a project management scenario in the creative agency. Specifically, the inverse pyramid model has value in the realm of closing processes in the creative agency project.