Many creative organizations recognize that they have room for improvement. This could mean better alignment within the organization, improving existing processes or implementing technology that can help manage the work. But often nothing gets done, because the next step requires time and effort... and those are in short supply. So, what options are available to creative leaders to address process and technology initiatives?

Usually the first option is to assign an internal team member to investigate the issues and available options. Using automated workflow as an example, this person may be tasked with identifying some basic workflow requirements and investigating the available options. This approach often fails due to some combination of these factors:

  • The person assigned the project just doesn't have the time available after getting other work done to do this extra project
  • This project is a lower priority for the department than getting creative work out the door and therefore doesn't get much participation from other team members
  • No one on the creative team has the right skill set for the job

Thus, these projects often don't go anywhere and just add to the team's frustration. According to a Harvard Business Review Study , this lack of progress or spinning of the wheels is more demotivating than any other negative factor for a knowledge worker.(1)
A second option, particularly in a larger company, is to use internal resources from other departments. Usually the resources would be from the IT organization or, if the company has one, Six Sigma or LEAN team. If the focus is on process, a Six Sigma or LEAN project may be a great way to improve your process flows and efficiency. For technology projects it may work great to have IT resources do the requirements analysis, tool selection and project management. When these projects work well there are usually some common factors:

  • For process work, the resources used have experience with transactional processes and not just manufacturing
  • The IT team has bandwidth to address the project in a timely fashion
  • Resources from outside the department have some level of subject matter expertise with creative processes

I've seen some great examples of technical resources supporting the needs of creative groups and driving very successful implementation projects. In one particularly successful example a company assigned a strong technical team to work exclusively with the creative organization.


A third option is to bring in outside resources for the project. This is a good option if you can't free up internal resources with the right skill sets, or if your support functions, like IT, don't have a good understanding of your business needs. But bringing in outside resources is not always successful either. Some important factors to consider when working with outside resources include:

  • In depth experience working with creative organizations--a general business consultant is not going to understand the unique needs of creative teams
  • The ability to understand your unique culture--creative organizations are not the place for a one-size-fits-all solution
  • The right skill sets--outside resources need to have experience and expertise in the areas you are addressing, whether organization, process or technology

So what's the right answer for you? Well, as often is the case, it depends and it may include a hybrid approach. What's important is that creative leaders consider whether a qualified creative team member can truly be freed up to address the initiative, whether there are corporate resources that understand the business needs and can support creative team's initiatives, or if it makes sense to bring in outside resources with the right experience and skill sets.