Innovating in Creative Operations

Posted by Krissie Harrigan on March 19, 2019

Deltek Marketing Agencies Blog Post

How Small Changes Lead to Big Impacts

This month we had the privilege of attending Creative Operations London. This unique conference was the 2nd annual gathering in Europe for agency and in-house teams to get insights from industry leaders on the key pillars that make up creative operations: People, Process, Technology, and Metrics.

Nish Patel, Deltek Agency Solutions VP, gave an inspiring talk urging creative operations teams to find opportunities to not just improve the process of how creative work is produced at their organizations, but to not be afraid to innovate their creative operations by making small changes that lead to big impacts.

The summary below provides some of the key highlights of his talk that we hope will inspire you to go beyond simply putting out daily fires and help you find those opportunities to innovate within your agency or creative team.

Creative Operations Innovation isn’t Magic

Innovation isn’t about pulling a rabbit out of a hat. You don’t have to be a magician or have a special skill / have tricks up your sleeve to be able to innovate. You just need a keen interest in digging into the problems / challenges you see with the way you / your team / your org has.

Creative Operations Genius

Albert Einstein himself said “Genius is 1% talent and 99% hard work”. In order to something truly innovative, you need to be prepared to try, fail, iterate, and repeat. This takes a lot of rigor and hard work to be able to see things right through to the end – when you can do all that, that’s when you have breakthrough moments, and it’s through those breakthrough moments when innovation happens.

Innovation Starts with Knocking Over a Single Domino

Innovation starts with a single change. And that single change is the catalyst to other changes that lead to something truly innovative. Remember: If you have a row of dominos, each one 1.5X bigger than the one before – it would take only 27 dominos to knock over the Empire State Building.


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Innovation is a Journey

It takes hitting 5 key milestones to get to something innovative:

  • Curiosity: Failure & frustration with a problem, or the way things are fuel curiosity (why is this happening?)
  • Questions: We start to dig into things – data, processes, assumptions – we gather information and analyze
  • Insights: By investigating things we uncover new information and learn. We uncover what we need to know in order to find ideas on how to fix things
  • 1st Domino: We make a change, implement a new process or policy. Innovation is unlocked.
  • The Domino Effect: That first innovation leads to additional innovations that have quantifiable positive impacts on productivity, efficiency, and the success of the business

Innovation is a Culture

Teams that find themselves on the innovation journey are often have specific attributes and ways of thinking and working that make innovation a natural extension of their daily work. They:

  • Are Data Informed
  • Have a Strong Sense of Self: These teams 
  • Observe & Think
  • Amplify Credible Opinion
  • Have a questioning Mindset
  • Have the Ethos of the Agile Inventor


Innovation doesn’t have to be a huge, overwhelming thing to take on. If you start with small changes with those key things listed above in mind, you will find over time that you / your team will start developing those key attributes, and over time – innovation will simply be the way you work and do things.

So, what will be the first domino you knock over? 

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