Making Creative Decisions with Large Teams

“Design work is as easy as crossing T’s and dotting I’s…” said no one ever. Creative decisions can be difficult, and it’s understandable given the stakes involved. These decisions can be the difference between having a turkey or an eagle represent your nation. (Probably good we skipped the former in the states.) Even with high stakes, there are a number of things you can do to help your team’s creative workflow, eliminating gridlock in the process. With this guide, you’ll speed past those hurdles faster than Michael Phelps inhales pancakes, so let’s dive right in.

1. Be Decision-Ready

As design professionals, we want to help you meet your design goals efficiently and effectively. After we’ve proposed where to direct resources, having your decision made prior to the next call is paramount. Things happen, and sometimes these decisions aren’t made in time. When delayed until the call, it’s like deciding which cake should be baked for a wedding while the groom and bride are reciting their vows. It’s good to avoid when possible! Once an agenda has been set, making those decisions prior to our next meeting ensures we’re equipped to move fast.

2. Keep the Bigger Picture In Mind

Hot pink or neon green could be your favorite colors, but it’s a hard palette to swing if you work for an aerospace company.  When making a creative decision for your company it’s important to leave personal tastes behind.
Try to ask yourself:
What is this thing really about?
What is its function, its purpose, and goal?
What are we trying to communicate?
Similar choosing a gift for someone, a creative decision is for the recipient, not the person choosing it. If this doesn’t come naturally, our next tip should help.

3. Nominate a "Tastemaker"

Considerate team leaders want everyone to have a voice. This is well-meaning but often causes major gridlock (especially for larger teams). Instead of one traffic officer, imagine twenty people at an intersection trying to direct traffic. With too many people offering direction, frustration, honked horns and confusion are unavoidable. There’s a secret to fixing this. You choose an in-house tastemaker who excels at creative decisions. One or two people within your organization can serve in this role. The tastemaker(s) selects two concepts (no more than three) and presents them to the team.

It can be tempting to offer more than three concepts, but anything over that amount defeats the purpose of the tastemaker. Their job is to eliminate options so your team can choose more easily. 

How do you pick a tastemaker?

Look throughout your organization for those who dress tastefully or someone who pays special attention to aesthetics. They might decorate their desk thematically, and may even do art in their free time. They needn’t be a DaVinci, just as long as they have some creative flair and the ability to eliminate options.

4. Be Specific with Your Asks

Vague, open-ended questions are perfect traps for slowing teams down.  When getting your team’s opinion, be as specific as you possibly can.  Instead of asking which version they like better, ask questions like:

Between these two options, what color combination feels more impactful/bold?
Of these two choices, which variant feels more vibrant?
Of these two options, which pulls at your emotions more strongly?

Specific questions get specific answers. Adopting this tip alone can help your team’s creative workflow immensely.

5. Trust Your Agency

We’re here to help you amplify your brand. It’s our mission, our purpose, and our OBSESSION. Even so, expert opinions can’t create change if there isn’t trust in the working relationship. Our clients come to us because they want expert strategic direction, not just production. We’ve spent tens of thousands of hours serving clients and honing our skills. Our perspectives draw off this experience. >If there is no trust, there is no progress. We have our client’s best interests in mind and we’ll spare no expense to help them win.