More Heads Are Better Than One: Five Things Creative Teams Do to Collaborate

Making decisions as a group is hard enough, much less coming up with original ideas. Today’s technology and media landscape presents opportunities that are too complex for one person or one marketing discipline to tackle alone. We need each other’s perspective and expertise. So how do we get everyone being creative together?

Weber Shandwick Southwest brings together a multidisciplinary team every day, because that’s what we are. Here are five things we’ve learned about teams that are creative.

1. Creative teams comprise a diversity of roles.

In the 21st century, producing impactful ideas can be challenging. With so many different ways to engage – from news stories to social posts, from visuals to video — brand marketers are looking for integrated media ideas. We’re talking about ideas that are only successful when multiple marketing disciplines are involved. A good rule is: if you can’t execute it on your own, then don’t create it on your own. So, the old art director-copywriter duo alone just won’t cut it anymore. Creativity is not one department; it’s a culture. In our creative sessions at Weber Shandwick Southwest, our experts from various disciplines within our network — such as media relations, social, paid media, video, crisis, employee engagement and more — meet to collaborate in one room. This process ensures that we consider each of our client’s challenges from every angle, and that no great ideas go unnoticed.

2. Creative teams break apart – then come back together.

The more expertise you add to a creative team, the bigger it gets. We begin with small groups that develop initial concepts. We then assemble the larger group to refine the ideas collectively. This is how Weber Shandwick Southwest manages creative sessions that involve experts from various disciplines, setting the tone for successful outcomes. In addition, we host sessions for clients that include multiple agencies from their roster. Our approach introduces a layer of selectivity into the process that weeds out the obvious and the mediocre. This combination of divergence, breaking into small groups, and convergence, coming back together again, guards against groupthink while allowing us to recognize recurring themes that could lead to something big.

3. Creative teams have someone facilitating the conversation.

Someone has to orchestrate the creative session for all these different voices to harmonize. This person isn’t necessarily the creative maestro or the person with all the ideas. The conductor’s instrument is their ear. Creative teams need a facilitator who can keep the discussion moving at a nice rhythm, listening carefully to each idea but also knowing when to move on. It takes someone who can think on their feet. Being able to pick out ideas with a lot of promise, see how they fit together, and reflect that back to the team is how you bring a creative session to a crescendo.

4. Creative teams do their homework before class.

There’s no surer way to kill a traditional brainstorm than for someone to ask when you are half-way through, “what’s the objective again?” Questions like this should be answered prior to the meeting. At Weber Shandwick Southwest, our account, strategy and creative leaders work together to craft briefs that go beyond the basic background questions. We chart out a strategy and big idea to give the creative team confidence that their ideas will support the objective and engage audiences. In addition, our creative session begins with a thorough briefing and Q&A. Every minute spent on developing the strategy up front is an investment in the quality of ideas that come about as a result. Because the best ideas are the ones we are confident will really make a difference.

5. Creative teams take time.

Creativity should not be rushed. Pulling together the right team, and doing your homework, may seem tedious, but it will result in a more productive outcome and experience. The thing we must do to make any collaboration work is build a solid foundation. By obtaining input from a variety of contributors early on — before the creative session even begins — we can avoid that dreaded last-minute second-guessing that can send a traditional brainstorm back to the drawing board. Background research and thought-starters give the creative team confidence that ideas have been vetted and refined to a level that is up to the standard that clients expect.

If you have a creative challenge that requires truly integrated marketing ideas, and you’re up for being part of the process, then we want to put our collaborative approach to work for you.

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