Working Effectively with Creatives

The Story of The Dropshadow Box

Creative people are always being second guessed. A graphic designer would never dare tell an engineer how to build a bridge, but that same engineer would likely have no problem telling that graphic designer how to design a website.

Why is that?

Whatever the reason, it leads to a breakdown in communications, bad feelings, and poor execution.

But, there is a solution.

Creatives follow best practices just like engineers do. There are rules for design, for music, for creative writing, and for videography.

Recognizing that those best practices exist is the first rule for working successfully with creatives. It’s perfectly acceptable to tell someone that something in their design, music, or video doesn’t work for you.

It’s not okay to tell that creative person how to solve that problem, unless you’re skilled in those best practices and can provide direction consistent with the overall design of the work.

When creatives dig their heels in about a “fix” it’s usually because the solution you’ve proposed doesn’t work with the best practices that creative follows to do his or her job.

The attached video tells the story of a meeting planner and a designer who, after a bumpy start, were able to find a way to work together to achieve a result they were both happy with.

One day a senior meeting planner came to me with a complaint.

She was overseeing the design or the production actually of a program guide, well over 100 pages and she had asked the designer, the design firm that was working on this guide to put some information in a drop shadow box.

And the designer refused.

As she described what had happened, it became pretty clear to me that what she had requested, a drop shadow box of all things, didn’t work within the overall design that this designer had envisioned for the entire 100 page document.

It didn’t fit it, it didn’t work. And the more she demanded she get her drop shadow box, the more the designer dug in his heels.

He was protecting the integrity of the overall design.

When I asked the meeting planner why she was so insistent on a drop shadow box on that page, she told me that the information that was going into that drop shadow box was the most important information on that page.

It really had to pop and a drop shadow box was her understanding of the best way to call attention to that information. So I suggested to this meeting planner that she go back to that designer and tell him what just didn’t work on that page, what was the problem with that page and to ask him to come up with a solution for the problem on that page.

That information wasn’t standing out. Come up with a solution to that problem and that’s exactly what she did and he came back with a design that they were both really very happy about.

The solution is to let your designers, your musicians, your video editors, know what isn’t working in the design for you, what doesn’t work and ask them to come up with a solution to that design problem.

It’s a solution that puts the burden of problem-solving squarely on the shoulders of the people who are best suited to solve the problem.

That’s why you hired them, right? You’re not a design professional. You’re a meeting planner. You’re an engineer, you’re a whatever you are and your profession has best practices and rules and ways of doing things.

So do designers, so do musicians, so do video editors.

There’s a way to do things and they’re the best people best suited to come up with a solution to the problem that you’re having with that particular design. So give it a try the next time a design or a piece of music or a video isn’t working for you.

Go back to the person who created it or who is managing the creation of that and ask them to come up with a solution for that particular problem, for the thing that isn’t working for you within the confines of what they do and their best practices and their ways of doing things.

Ask them to come up with a solution that’s gonna solve that problem.

Got any good design problems, stories that you wanna share? Leave them for us in the comment section below and be sure to like this video and share it with your colleagues if you found it helpful.

Until next time, I’m Paul Gannon for Thoughtcast Media.