If there’s one practice which right-brain in-house creatives and their left-brain business-minded colleagues both value, it is concept visualization – and specifically the use of flowcharts. This commonality can be leveraged to the benefit of an in-house group in a variety of ways.
The creative process can be very complex and is often misunderstood by both creative and operational stakeholders. The drafting of carefully crafted workflow charts can help demystify the process for non-creatives whose misconceptions about what goes into a design deliverable can lead to unrealistic expectations and poor creative management practices. Providing visualizations that clearly define all the work and who does the work in a way that clients and managers can get their heads around will allow them to make educated decisions on creative projects and become more effective partners in the creative process.
These charts also help those involved in the creative process better articulate what they do and the value of what they do to management and clients as well as assist them in identifying opportunities to refine and improve the process.
Flowcharts defining the creative process serve as a roadmap for all who play a role in that process. Rather than constantly reinventing procedures and collaborative practices with the accompanying risk of misunderstandings, misaligned expectations and mishandled handoffs, a clearly visualized representation of a baseline process allows everyone to stay focused on their functional roles and not waste time or energy on figuring out what is supposed to go where or to whom by when.
Process illustrations are, in a sense, a contract that allows for accountability and better collaborative relationships. If someone is not adhering to predetermined SOPs he can be called to task and have his lapse explained to him with the use of a chart. Charted workflows also set mutually agreed upon expectations about how different team members or functional teams will work with each other.
The cousin of the flowchart, the org chart, is a powerful tool in maintaining and improving the efficiency of a team. It can quickly define escalation procedures when conflicts or disagreements arise, clarify career path opportunities and assist team members in seeking out support from appropriate colleagues. Org charts can also help management identify staffing gaps and opportunities.
The timeline is yet another iteration of the flowchart that can powerfully support an in-house team. The illustration of a project schedule created as a series of boxes with the agreed upon deliverables and accompanying due dates included in the order they will occur is a much more effective way to communicate timing than a series of bulleted dates and activities.
As simple and obvious as these tools may seem, they are often underutilized or ignored. They provide a quick and effective path towards improving communication and improving team efficiency – and they’re what we as creatives are expert at creating. So jump in, go with the flow and chart your course to success.