The Cohen-Miller Report: Dream Team Scheme Part 3

Characteristics of the Ideal Creative Team – Part III

by Emily Cohen

In an earlier post I highlighted six core character types that are particularly important when you have right and left-brain personalities working together. In that same post, I then describe, in more detail, two of these (the cheerleader and the industry activist). Todays blog will focus on two more core types, the tech guru and the emotional quarterback.

In most cases the in-house creative industry is challenged with working within a PC corporate culture, but are the lone department using Macs. Thus, having someone on your team that functions as the tech guru is critical. The tech guru provides the necessary support and day-to-day troubleshooting that internal IT departments may not be able to. Internal IT departments are primarily skilled in PC issues and often are not skilled in troubleshooting Mac related issues. While some IT departments think they can and others do their very best, in most cases providing IT support for Macs is not in their area of expertise. Other times, internal IT may hold the responsibility for the procurement and related budgets associated with buying new hardware and software. Yet, a deep understanding and skill with industry-specific hardware and software technologies that a creative team utilizes is often outside the purview of IT. The tech guru within a creative team often loves to attend technology conferences and, on their own, devours websites and publications dedicated to the latest software and hardware updates and offerings. They keep the team current and liaise with internal (or even external) IT to ensure the creative team is supported with the latest industry-specific hardware and software needs. Depending on the size of the creative department, the tech guru may be either a designer or production artist, or, within a large team, may be a separate role entirely.

The emotional quarterback diffuses the drama and minimizes internal conflicts associated with managing creative personalities. Similar to the qualities of a good therapist, this person is genuine, empathetic, and conveys warmth and mutual trust. Most importantly, they are comfortable providing feedback and are not afraid to confront, challenge, and, if possible, resolve the current emotional crisis. This critical and often challenging role is uniquely suited to the needs of a creative environment. In this environment right-brained creatives are often driven by their emotions and need some degree of handholding and patience. Look for my next posting on the last two character types, the enforcer and the political navigator!

Emily has consulted with design firms and in-house corporate creative departments for over twenty years. During this time, she has provided confidential, best-practice insights and advice. She helps creatie teams improve operational effectiveness and helps companies build efficient teams and processes.

Emily currently serves on the board of advisors of InSource and on the AIGA In-House task force. Emily has also served as Secretary for the AIGA/NY Board of Directors and has taught classes and conducted seminars for many leading design schools and organizations. Emily is a frequently-requested speaker on business-related issues for the creative industry. Learn more at and

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