Fuel INjected IN-house: The Pitfalls of In-house Hide & Seek

Are you involved in a cover-up?

by Sam Harrison

Maybe you’re mixed up in an internal cover-up and not even aware of it. And this diabolical situation may be strangling creativity. Ask yourself these questions:

1. Am I covering-up the creative process?

Are you fed up with how managers and clients just don’t understand your work? How they expect instant turnaround? How they take you and your team for granted?  If so, maybe you need to pull back the curtains on your creative process and give the world a peek.

Hold a bagels-and-coffee briefing for clients. Select a few of your top-hit ideas and walk clients through the process– the exploring, researching and brainstorming, the editing, prototyping and refining. And don’t forget to point out hours and manpower required for each step. Help clients see exactly what it takes to turn out winning ideas.

2. Do you cover up collaboration?

Are you brainstorming behind closed doors? Are managers and clients clueless about collaboration? If so, you’re depriving yourself of divergent views. And you’re making final pitches more difficult than they need to be. If decision makers aren’t involved, they’ll feel no ownership during approval stages.

You don’t have to include clients in every step, but spend time collaborating with them. As my friend David Schimmel says, “If they feel they birthed it, they can’t kill it.”

3. Do you cover-up research?

Have you explored and researched the project, then failed to show decision makers the significance of that research? If so, you’re not letting research help build the case for your solutions. And you’re not getting credit for your many hours of due diligence.

I’m not saying you should overwhelm decision makers with mountains of boring data and raw statistics. That’s worse than showing no research at all. Instead, sift through findings for illuminating insights and vivid examples.

4. Do you cover-up achievements?

Nobody likes a showoff, but, on the other hand, nobody gives credit to someone who hides accomplishments.

Be a booster for yourself and your team. Show off work. Share success stories. Announce awards and recognition. Promote yourself the same ways you would promote clients. Do it with style. Do it with humility. Do it with creativity. But do it.

5. Do you cover-up creative flair?

Earlier this year, I conducted creative workshops at a major food corporation. After these sessions, the design director showed me his in-house department –and it looked totally different than the rest of the handsome but conservative headquarters. His space was colorful, playful and packed with creative energy.

“We got tons of pushback when we first began deviating from headquarters’ traditional design scheme,” he said, “but we kept making small changes. Little by little we got approvals to pump up the look. And now the CEO and other key executives can’t wait to show off our department when touring visitors.”

Does your department display its flair? Is it a showplace for your creative work? If not, start making incremental, imaginative changes that tell people they’re standing in a space where ideas take place.

Sam Harrison is a speaker, workshop leader and writer on creativity-related topics. His latest book, IdeaSelling: Successfully pitch your creative ideas to bosses, clients and other decision makers, was recently released by HOW Books. He is also the author of IdeaSpotting: How to find your next great idea, and Zing!: Five steps and 101 tips for creativity on command.