There’s a special state every team is trying to achieve. It’s those magic moments when everyone has clarity, goals are being met, and the org is in perfect alignment. Athletes call this being “in the zone.” Techies call this being “in sync.” Psychologists call this “flow.”
Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, who pioneered research about the flow state, describes it this way: “A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it even at great cost, for the sheer sake of doing it.”
The ability to get into and remain in flow is absolutely critical for creative teams. This is where the most creative ideas, highest productivity, and greatest sense of work satisfaction exist.
When flow is interrupted, the whole team suffers. Deadlines are missed, clarity is lost, and momentum grinds to a halt. Working with thousands of creative teams, we’ve identified five roadblocks that sabotage creative collaboration. And drawing upon the insights of the experts, we’ve discovered the keys to overcome them:
Roadblock #1: Confusing and vague requests
Creative work typically starts with a request or creative brief that outlines the requirements of a project. When this request is unclear or incomplete, time is wasted trying to decipher what’s actually being asked. Even worse, the request may be misunderstood completely. Misunderstandings like these are costly, causing teams to waste time and resources doing work that can’t even be used.
The solution: Create an official request process. Map out the types of requests your team receives and all the information needed to complete the tasks. Make sure everyone who works with your team understands the new process and knows exactly where to find the relevant request forms. Whether ideas are discussed in meetings or informally in hallways, work shouldn’t begin until a formal request is made. By sticking to the process, you’ll save both yourself and your team some serious headaches.
Further reading: Why Won’t People Fill Out My Creative Brief?
Roadblock #2: Endless reviews and iterations
The key to great creative work is receiving and acting on valuable feedback. It’s critical to seek an outside perspective because it will help you cut through personal bias. But when feedback loops are left unchecked, projects can end up in iteration limbo. Vague and conflicting feedback can stall deliverables, introducing unnecessary friction in your organization.
The solution: Seek as much clarity as possible from stakeholders throughout the entire project workflow. A well-crafted work intake process is the first step, but the work doesn’t end there. You’ll need to identify your stakeholders and define clear roles and responsibilities to keep projects moving and prevent them from stalling. Specify exactly what you need feedback on and set deadlines for when people need to share their thoughts. Finally, use a visual markup tool to collect and collaborate around specific, actionable, creative feedback.
Further reading: 5 Steps to a Stress-Free Design Revision Process
Roadblock #3: Siloed teams
It’s always a struggle to keep a team connected and in a flow, but it’s especially hard during high-growth periods. As organizations expand, silos form and collaboration suffers. Before you know it, messages get lost, it’s not clear who’s working on what, and communication breaks down. The resulting confusion is a momentum killer.
The solution: Team leaders need to step up and set the example for others. When teams see management working together, they’ll follow. If possible, bring everyone together in the same space for project kickoffs so assignments are clear and everyone knows who they can turn to for help. Leverage work collaboration tools to show teams how cross-functional projects and tasks fit together to achieve larger company goals. These tools keep the communication rolling and all project-related details, files, and comments in a single, centralized place for everyone to work around.
Further reading: The “We” in “Teamwork”: How Marketers Can Drive Cross-Team Collaboration
Roadblock #4: Too many tools
Digital transformation has provided teams a tool for every challenge — even some challenges they didn’t know they had. When these tools don’t talk to one another, important information slips through the cracks. Different teams are armed with different data sets, and version control chaos ensues. Not to mention workers may be forced to switch between tabs and copy information back and forth across systems, wasting valuable time, increasing the chances ofhuman error, and hurting creativity by constantly pulling your team out of the zone.
The solution: Take a step back and evaluate your tech stack. Is every platform serving its purpose? If not, it could be time to pare down. Next, select a “single source of truth” to centralize as much information as possible and help teams work as one. Finally, integrate systems to automate data transfer and workflows while keeping teams in the tools they love. The Wrike Adobe Creative Cloud Extension is a great example of integration at work. It allows marketers to view creative briefs, leave comments, upload documents, and more in Wrike from directly within the Creative Suite!
Further reading: So Long Silos! 5 Tools Marketers Should Centralize via Work Management
Roadblock #5: Time-consuming and repetitive admin work
There’s a pervasive myth that all creative work starts from scratch. However, “new” work is often built on previous work, which in turn can be quickly revised to meet current needs. Templates,macros, and custom presets are useful creative tools. More and more, creatives use automation to take care of repetitive tasks that suck up time. But when there’s no automation, teams can burn out recreating past work. That leaves them with less time to collaborate and do more impactful work for the business.
The solution: Build automation into your processes wherever possible. Create templates for repeatable tasks. Set up custom workflows that automatically assign dates and tasks in your work management system. Use automated notifications to let team members know when a task requires their attention and the ball is in their court. Leveraging technology to handle administrative and low-level tasks frees up your team, which gives them more time to band together to do impactful work.
Further reading: How Expert Project Managers Get Powerful Results with Automation
Find your flow at Adobe MAX!
Did you find these five creative collaboration tips helpful? There’s plenty more where these came from! Wrike is taking the stage at Adobe MAX to talk about how creative teams can build a highly collaborative culture across in-house creatives, outside stakeholders, and remote workers. Join us Tuesday, November 5 at 1:15 p.m. to listen in, and be sure to stop our booth at the conference!
Not registered for Adobe MAX? It’s not too late — register now!