Thursday 08 December 2016

Friday Five: Five Tips on Growing an Idea Into Exceptional Work

At the core of everything we do, we strive to be creative with the digital solutions we deliver to our clients. We gather information on requirements or a particular challenge and then expend a lot of blood, sweat and (only occasionally) tears trying to solve the problem in the most elegant way possible. Sometimes, a great digital concept can fall flat because it wasn’t communicated effectively or was critiqued in a way that didn’t nurture the idea to its fullest potential.

Here are a few pointers to maximize your chance for success:

1. Present Your Work

Ideas are fragile and best discussed in person with the key decision makers in the highest-quality presentation possible, regardless of project constraints. This is your best chance to communicate the proposed solution against the project criteria, overcome ambiguity and defend scope.

2. Hold a Critique

Critique is the neutral dialogue between praise and censure and is a two-way discussion between the creator and the jury. A critique is a shared effort among all stakeholders, whether they are account, creative, production and client etc., to validate the idea against established criteria.

3. Look to Solicit Clear, Actionable and Objective Feedback

“I Like it” or “I Don’t Like It” isn’t helpful. Critique participants should seek to get to the why?

CLARIFICATIONS:

  • Detailing, Expanding “Can you explain _______”

POSITIVES:

  • Pluses, Advantages, “What I like about the idea is _______”

OPPORTUNITIES:

  • Spin-offs, Interests, Unique connections, “It might ______”

CONCERNS:

  • “How to _______?”  Overcome concerns
  • “How might we_______?”  Overcome concerns
  • “In what ways might we_______?”  Overcome concerns
4. The Role of the Creator

If you are the creator, it’s your job to accurately explain and defend your digital solution, field questions and assess feedback/direction against strategy, redirecting recommended changes where necessary.

  • Be prepared and understand the concept completely.
  • Communicate clearly.
  • Clarify that which is not clear.
  • Ask the right questions.
  • Be objective, critique is not personal.
  • Listen, listen, listen.
5. The Role of the Jury

If you are a member of the jury, appreciate that when talking about work, you should be in a critique mindset. Thinking this way maximizes the potential for a meaningful and valuable conversation about a digital product.

  • Withhold judgment prior to presentation.
  • Let the creator explain intentions.
  • Judge success against previously defined criteria (i.e. SOW or brief).
  • Give actionable and objective feedback.
  • Listen, listen, listen.

Clearly defining roles and engaging a team in a critique are great ways to build advocacy. Asking the right questions and clear communication are key to avoiding common points of aggravation like feedback loops, misaligned project goals, wacky changes and budget overruns, etc. Professional creatives are taught how to critique work in school, but a critiquing methodology works well in bringing out the best of whatever you do. Thanks to all my great mentors over the years… This Friday5 captures just a few of the best points I could pass along.

Do you have any preferred rules on the critique process? Share them!

Image credit: zetson

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