2019 IHAF Awards Show Recap: Powering Creative Genius
Last week the In-House Agency Forum (IHAF) held its annual conference and awards show. This annual event brings together and celebrates the incredible work produced by in-house agency teams from both consumer and B2B brands big and small. Deltek was fortunate to sponsor the attendee lounge this year, so we worked to create a space for attendees to “Power Your Creative Genius” – to take a breather, chill out, rest, refresh, hydrate, and recharge.
As with last year, all of the work submitted – whether it won an award or not – was impressive. It is why we are seeing a rise in brands taking more work in-house – there is just as much (maybe more) creative genius at work at in-house agencies as we find in external agencies. Thinking back on the session content and discussions, I’ve mapped out the key things I learned at this year's event about powering that creative genius.
Powering Creative Genius Starts with Purpose-Driven Culture
Whether you identify yourself as an in-house agency with its own identity and brand or as the creative services department, one thing stands true for both: creatives do NOT want to be order takers tasked with producing cookie-cutter, paint-by-number templated work. If you want to attract top talent with a diverse set of expertise, you need to foster a culture that nurtures and encourages growth and creative thinking. So, how do you make the shift from “order takers” to valued business partners?
- Define your sense of purpose: Claim your authority - Plant that flag, put your stake in the ground and share it with your internal business partners. Whether that means creating your own in-house agency identity and branding it, or simply making it better known what you’re capable of producing (like submitting work for awards like IHAF). Show your organization you are capable of producing work that is on par or even better than an external agency.
- Make time and space for growth and exploration. Creatives thrive when they are encouraged and supported to get out and be inspired, learn, and get outside perspectives.
- Shift internal perspectives – sometimes this is something as simple as a change in vernacular. Instead of the traditional “client” and “service provider” mindset – switch to a more collaborative model like “business partners” that focuses on collaborating together towards a common goal.
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Powering Creative Genius is Supported with Process & Technology
Demand and pressure continues to rise for in-house teams. This means you’re tasked with producing a higher volume and variety of content at a higher velocity – and as brands continue to search for new and innovative ways to reach their customers these demands will continue to increase. Without processes and tools in place that can adapt and scale up with these demands, in-house agencies will struggle to meet deadlines and experience burnout. How can you future-proof your processes and tools to keep up with the demands of the business?
- Document and assess your existing processes. This will enable you to find gaps and possible problem areas – those parts of the process that can’t scale well. Then create a plan to adjust and implement changes to those processes – this may mean change happens over a few years with room to test and iterate.
- Explore ways of working outside of the industry standard. There has been a rise in marketing and creative teams adopting the agile methodology traditionally used in software development teams – and for good reason. The traditional waterfall approach takes longer, and leaves little time or room for iterations and continuous feedback.
- Deploy the right software tools. There is no shortage of tools in the market to create, manage, review, and measure creative operations. It can be overwhelming, but having tools that support your processes (and can scale with the demands of the business) is critical to powering creative genius. Otherwise, your creatives are spending more time on administrative tasks than actual creative work. Technology is meant to enable and empower your team – not burden them. Technology that streamlines and centralizes everything is key – all-in-one and best of breed tools that integrate together will alleviate the administrative burden on your team, unleashing their creative genius so they can focus on the work that matters most.
To summarize, creative genius is powered by the convergence of team culture (people and purpose) with the right tools (process and technology). All of these things can be streamlined over time until they are a just right fit for your in-house team. When this happens, you are firing on all cylinders, producing impactful work that is valued and created efficiently, with data to backup those claims.