The Cohen-Miller Report: Dream Team Scheme

Characteristics of the Ideal Creative Team – Part I


What are the key characteristics that makes one creative team work successfully while another is dysfunctional and siloed? In working with and meeting a wide-variety of creative teams I’ve always been intrigued by this issue.

The most obvious and essential factors that shape a successful team include the quality of operational and organizational areas including:

  • executive leadership – do you have executive-level advocacy that supports your team and understands your value?
  • department-level leadership – do you have strong visionary leadership that can effectively navigate internal politics?
  • management – do you have the necessary and dedicated client, project, and staff level operational management to implement the leader’s vision?
  • organizational structure – does your team grow and compress in response to the latest urgency (as you put out the latest fire)? or do you have a planned structure and staff forecasting methodologies that consider long-term growth and needs?
  • role clarity – does everyone understand what each person’s responsibilities are, including their own? are roles defined primarily by specific and measurable responsibilities in core functional areas such as process, people, projects, etc?
  • performance evaluations – do you evaluate your staff solely by HR-driven tools or are there evaluation tools that are customized for the unique needs of a creative team?
  • processes and systems – do you have department-level and individual-level standard operation procedures (SOPs) that further define roles and interactions from relationship building through project closeout?

These core operational and organizational factors are important and help ensure  that the team is functionally successful. Yet, what makes a team enjoy working together? What makes one creative team “click” while others have internal strife and politics?

What we’ve discovered is that there are much more powerful but subtle influences going on that impact a creative team’s culture and personality. In the next few blogs, I will focus on some other factors that aren’t always considered as one develops and shapes a creative team. These will include the talent, behavioral and communication styles, and ages of the staff involved.

In my future posts, I will highlight factors that HR rarely focuses on in their hiring process. For a creative team, these factors can be the difference between a team that simply does their job and one that is passionate about their job, and more importantly, the work they create and produce.

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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One thought on “The Cohen-Miller Report: Dream Team Scheme

  1. Toasterdroid

    Nice article and accompanying header image even. I look forward to reading the rest. I auto-share these posts in Twitter via IFTTT so I too can keep up-to-date with them 😉